The Data Center Alliance (DCA) is a not-for-profit international industry association representing the interests of the data centre infrastructure sector that has recently announced plans to bring its expertise to the Middle East. We talk to the company’s Executive Director, Simon Campbell-Whyte and Operations Director, Steve Hon to delve more into this thought leadership initiative.
Can you give a background of DCA and the initiatives the company has taken since its establishment?
With now over 200 organisation and over 1,000 individual members, the DCA was formed in 2010 and launched May 2011 when we saw the need for an independent representation, without a product or service agenda, for the data centre community. The industry was severely lacking co-ordination and cohesion and the vacuum for better understanding and collaboration with related stakeholders, policy makers and the public institutions was there to fill.
We sought to establish an organisation that could freely discuss and coordinate R&D action plans as well as drive best practices to both industry players and end users.
At present, the main activities of the DCA include driving awareness of the data centre industry to the business world, the media, governments and the general public as well as promoting the development and harmonisation of data centre standards to as many regions as possible.
Membership is open to all data centre operators, both private and commercial, as well as supply chain organisations that support the industry. With EU Commission funding, the DCA has established self-governance, introducing DCA Certifications that span across cloud, storage, applications, telecoms equipment and IT hardware and software, as well as supporting standard development and harmonisation at ISO, EU and National levels.
Our requirements for certification encompass elements such as resilience, operational professionalism, security and energy efficiency, with site inspections carried out annually. Participation can span across data centre owners and operators, cloud operators, users and buyers of data centres and data centre consulting firms.
What we are striving for is a process of constant collaboration, including a process developed for approving auditors and a ‘live’ process for updating certification requirements.
You have recently partnered with Lynchpin Media with a view to bringing the concept of DCA to the Middle East. Can you explain what your goals are for the region?
The Middle East is seeing rapid growth in data centres and extending DCA membership to the region to encourage collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation can only be a natural, and mutually beneficial step for both new and existing members where ever they may be.
However, we know that local market knowledge and presence together with the needed services and support for DCA members on the ground is essential for any successful industry association. Therefore, we are delighted to be able to partner with Lynchpin Media, who have more than enough expertise, experience and track record in the region to help us bridge the gap and help align the strategy of global companies with their counterparts in the Middle East.
Considering the key teaching points of the DCA, what do you see as the major challenges for the Middle East’s data centre industry?
From our experience of working across different regions, many of the major challenges of data centres are very similar. However, we are keen to see and learn what specific challenges exist in the Middle East and look forward to an active membership in the region that can add strength to the knowledge transfer activities on a global platform.
As with other regions, the Middle East also suffers from fragmented, sometimes conflicting, myths about data centre industry standards, where little or no governance is applied and subjective viewpoints are commonplace.
In essence, the “whole” data centre is not clearly represented wherein it can often be the case that there is deceptive use of PUE and other metrics. Inevitably, data centre investors, customers and clients are confused.
With the introduction of the DCA into the region, we want to build a platform to assist with new technology adoption, skills enhancements and improved practices, as well as assist with identifying key requirements for improved data centres. We can help to identify where R&D is best applied to new methods and technologies, promote skills and education and particularly to address energy consumption.
Through the partnership with Lynchpin Media, what is the overall strategy for presenting DCA as a ‘subject matter expert’ and to promote ‘thought leadership’?
The DCA in the Middle East aims to promote a “thought leadership” dialogue through regular independent and educational articles to be featured in Inside_Networks_ME magazine.
In addition, partnering with Lynchpin will also provide added value marketing services to help organisations succeed in the Middle East market, such as a fully featured directory, media platform and an events programme, thus helping DCA members to maximise and leverage their DCA membership.
*This is an extract article taken from an article in the February issue our sister publication, Inside_Networks_ME. Please see https://www.joomag.com/magazine/inside-networks-me-february-2015/0349720001423472647?short