Phillip Koblence, NYI’s Co-Founder and COO, and member of the Independent Data Center Alliance participated in a webinar with guest speakers that included Arun Shenoy, SVP Sales for ServerFarm titled, “Our New Disrupted Reality: The Future of Internet Infrastructure.” The webinar focused on how the recent shift of mission-critical IT is putting the connectivity industry into the spotlight, with the world recognizing their reliance on Internet infrastructure.
The panelists shared some of their personal experiences with the changes and shifts they have experienced as a result of the disrupted reality. Some of the biggest challenges discussed included work life balance, technical hurdles, maintaining productivity. Having work life balance has been the most challenging. Mr. Shenoy mentioned “it takes a level of discipline and thought setting up that environment, and discipline to know when are you there, when are you not, when can you do something that you do not feel guilty about. For example, going to lunch in an office environment for an hour is okay but going to lunch for an hour at home – I’m not doing what I should be doing.”
Mr. Koblence said, “when I was going into the office in the city, I always felt like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, always rushing to get out of the house because trying to get to the kids to school and get to the office for a particular meeting only to get a phone call to say, I am needed at a data center or to meet for a tour or something not on my calendar. Then always rushing home so I can get to have dinner with the kids as a family. There is some level of just relaxation, that removal, that burden of being expected to be in different places that I think is beneficial, of course making sure you’re still present. “
The last five months has established the necessity and a real need for infrastructure, this disrupted reality has accelerated this entire process. Both panelists agreed that infrastructure is something everyone needs globally, in addition the rural parts of America and parts of the world that have not had that kind of investment on building infrastructure. People are going to be more comfortable working from home and corporations more comfortable with that, children having to attend school online, and these not being options for them. Large corporations need to be on board with bringing bandwidth to rural communities. Mobile operators in countries are asking their local governments to remove the red tape to allow them to build the infrastructure needed. All countries want to be known as a smart city.
The discussion also touched on how travel has been impacted and how having business conversations are acceptable now over in person. Not traveling means no more waiting at airports and being able to do more and be more productive instead using the time for physically traveling to meetings. “I found myself in five different airports in one day;” Mr. Shenoy states, the amount of time taken to travel, and if I suggested I was not going to travel and instead suggest we do a call instead; well, I would not have considered asking that question then. The difference now is this a genuine way of meeting someone, even if it’s for the first time and I can do more. Our current way of working isn’t a direct replacement for face to face contact. There are things that convey, and especially true for high context cultures like in Japan or Singapore vs. high content cultures where virtual is not a good medium for getting across meaning because so much of it is contextual. We have to think about how we replace or augment some of those interactions. There is greater opportunity to have more interactions and get to know more about my customers and creates a level of individuality, it isn’t about two corporate people having a conversation on specific topics, there is a broadness to the interaction which is wonderful.“
Mr. Koblence added, “the fact that the idea of formality has toppled is incredibly valuable because you get so much more done when you strip that veneer of formality and I think we all have been forced to because we are all experiencing this together. There’s a shared experience for the majority of us that have to communicate with customers and establishing relationships with our clients is gold in terms of sharing our experiences before we get into a solution.” Companies are saving money on travel, and an opportunity to create collaborative office environments where people come to the office for specific reasons and for efficiency. The impact for employers, the funds can be reinvested into the mental health of their staff, and makes their environment more conducive to productive work.
The Internet was Built for This
“From a networking and power standpoint we have built this infrastructure to seamlessly expand for our customers to focus on their virtual environments. The internet has not only proved it’s crucial but made it more obvious for people who may not have understood there is critical infrastructure is there supporting it, they have a clearer understanding how it works but why it works. How we have had to pivot, shifted how we staff the facilities so not as much overlap with staff, and have staff monitor staff from home and engage our business continuity to support those on site without creating a difficulty for them. Coaching on how to describe things from a data center environment and being
Mr. Shenoy shared it was harder before to describe what he does for a living. Since this disruption, that has changed. “People have been beneficiaries of heroism on the part of IT people and the reason we are able to do what we do is because the IT industry on mass has figured out how to make that pivot very quickly and to create network capacity, to create VPN infrastructure, create remote working with all the security most companies need almost overnight, they are the hidden people behind critical infrastructure.” He went on to say, “people only know IT people when something goes wrong and the same is true for Data Centers and people are realizing how important they are to not just digital infrastructure but the internet infrastructure. Most enterprises have realized that running physical infrastructure is complicated and not the core business of most people. We are seeing an accelerated interest in bringing in the right experts because they do not want to test our environment in the people bit or technology bit in the same way. We are not going to go back to how it was before working in offices, IT and data centers occupy a very important part of our society today and the move to digital transformation with cloud being one part is now imperative and how we help customers solve those problems.