In every industry, there are four types of leaders:

  • Thought leaders, who harness their ideas, and are catalysts for change
  • Courageous leaders, who bravely pursue their dreams despite seemingly insurmountable odds
  • Inspirational leaders who promote change in others and in their “ecosystem” through their commitment to ideas
  • Servant Leaders who care about people and work tirelessly to enable, inspire, and elevate

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To be a thought leader, you must possess many of these characteristics. In the arena of data center design, many innovative, passionate individuals want to create customer value and optimize managed service delivery.

Here are our top five thought leaders in data center design and some points on why you should follow them.

Kevin Timmons, CyrusOne

Back before November 2011, Kevin Timmons was the Microsoft General Manager of their data center business. This was pre-Satya Nadella and pre-Microsoft Azure. Kevin also spent time with Yahoo’s data center division and GeoCities. He is now the Chief Technical Officer of CyrusOne.

Kevin led CyrusOne’s data center design and build in Chandler, Arizona 2012.  It is the largest data center facility in the United States, yet the most energy efficient. It is “massively modular” and has been certified against SSAE 16, PCI DSS, HIPAA, ISO 27001, and FISMA.

Data center executives should follow Kevin on various media channels because he appreciates and believes in collaborative design. He has been quoted as a believer in competitors helping each other out with design best practices. This sort of unselfish, industry-focused mindset is what moves innovation forward.

Mark Thiele, SuperNap

Mark Thiele is the Executive Vice President of Ecosystem Evangelism at Switch. He is also the founder and president of Data Center Pulse, a non-profit organization that provides guidance for data center energy efficiency and design best practices.

Mark has worked with VMWare, HP, Brocade, Gilead, and ServiceMesh, and has been a featured speaker at events like Data Center World.

He wrote an interesting LinkedIn Pulse article titled “If You’re Fighting Fires in IT, You’re Doing it Wrong”. The post provides interesting insights into why networks and IT need to be planned and designed right (or outsourced to a cloud/managed services provider) initially so IT personnel don’t need to fix broken hardware and software constantly.

Dennis Julian, Integrated Design Group

Dennis is a 25-year veteran of the architecture and data center engineering industry. His firm has built data centers for companies like Fidelity Investments, LL Bean, American Express, Thomson Reuters, and Verizon Wireless.

Dennis has been a speaker at events like Data Center World about best practices in designing managed services facilities. He has also authored many articles and other content on the subjects of designing for efficiency, reliability, modularity, and compliance.

Sherman Ikemoto, Future Design

Sherman is a Director of Future Design, which produces tools for data center engineering simulation. He is often asked to provide strategic guidance to companies building data centers and to speak at industry events like the Open Compute Summit.

Future Design’s 6Sigma DCX toolset helps engineers to model a data center and make strategic decisions about space, capacity, and efficiency before working with contractors.

Tom Roberts, AFCOM

Tom has been the President of AFCOM, the world’s leading data center management association, since 2012, after over thirty years as a technical architect for Trinity Health. He was named AFCOM’s Data Center Manager of the Year in 2011.

Tom has been frequently called on to speak and contribute to think tanks on designing data center facilities for efficiency and has been called an industry visionary.

Editor's Note: Tom Roberts retired from AFCOM in 2017. 


If you are considering building of a new data center facility or major renovation to an existing facility, these are five experts you should seek out on social media, at conferences, or in the industry press.


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