Justin Jenkins was appointed CEO of UK data centre operator NGD in 2018. He brings a wealth of IT and data centre industry experience including the past ten years at NGD where as part of the senior management team he previously served as Data Centre Director, CTO and latterly COO.
Prior to joining NGD, Justin held posts with a number of entrepreneurial technology businesses and was previously was with Sony Computer Entertainment for several years in a variety of IT and infrastructure roles.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement in the data centre industry?
NGD’s 10th anniversary last year which coincided with commencing the development of the next 250,000 sq ft of operational space on the top floor of our facility which is located in south Wales – this is our biggest expansion phase so far which will accommodate multiple data halls, catering for hyperscale, mid-range and co-location customers. The 250,000 sq ft ground floor had reached full occupancy, comprising 31 data halls (32MW of built space).
Overall, NGD’s facility is 750,000 sq ft over three floors, making it the largest data centre in Europe.
What first made you think of a career in technology/data centres?
For me it was a natural evolution from IT into data centres. I spent the early 90s in IT and facilities management and realised IT and data storage wouldn’t remain on-premise forever but in an increasingly wired world would move online.
The data centre business operates in a dynamic and interesting marketplace with day to day challenges to resolve. It’s not yet a fully mature industry as it continually develops so there are always plenty of opportunities for figuring things out and innovating, which is always fun.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
As CEO I take a facilitative and inclusive management approach, realising when you have good people they should be given the authority and space to do their jobs and make things happen. This is borne out of my having held various roles during my career and not expecting anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.
What do you think is the current hot talking point within the data centre space?
There are several. Clearly Brexit, which for many represents both a potential threat and an opportunity in terms of possible impact on customers. However, NGD’s business is growing strongly, driven by digital growth and the digital drivers are stronger than Brexit, so we will continue to grow with or without it.
Another is keeping pace with the insatiable demand for both hyperscale and enterprise compute and storage requirements, which necessitates a facility having sufficient space, power, cooling and of course diverse connectivity. The cloud too, where it begins and ends – there’s a huge growth in public/private ‘hybrid’ cloud environments which places particular emphasis on low latency, scalability, security, while at the same time being able to accommodate customer legacy IT equipment and systems.
Other hot topics include rack densities and efficiency and whether it’s better to concentrate or spread assets. And of course, the green agenda with the data centre industry already accounting for circa 5% of global power consumption and rising. Therefore, we have to continuously evaluate how to deploy cooling in the most efficient way.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
I find going to the gym and playing squash takes my mind off things. You have to focus 100% on the game.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
Cooling – technologies to meet demand from ever rising rack densities and compute loads.
Capacity – but with an increasing shift towards high performance computing space will be less the issue as it will be how we deploy more power into smaller spaces.
AI – intelligent buildings technologies for enabling predictive automated control, delivering improved up-time and plant efficiency.
Cybersecurity complemented by physical security in a layered continuum.
What are the region-specific challenges you encounter in your role?
None really because NGD is viewed regionally, nationally and globally by different customer groups.
Out of town is coming of age. NGD chose Wales for its space, lower cost and power advantages compared to London/M25. Our business growth and talks with prospective clients shows they understand the value of our offering.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
I was appointed CEO so I am now doing more top-down thinking – previous roles felt very bottom up.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a senior position in the industry?
Start at the bottom – do your time – work it through, don’t lose sight of ambition but ensure you have the experience and foundations to understand the business and lead it when you get there. A good mentor will also be able to help you grow and evolve with the business. In addition to that see that personal goals and business goals are not exclusive – sometimes they can be the same thing.