CHARLOTTE, NC

Chris Crosby Provides Insight on Developing a Data Center Skillset


Chris Crosby is a recognized visionary and leader in the datacenter space and the founder and CEO of Compass Datacenters. Chris has over 20 years of technology experience and over 10 years of real estate and investment experience. Previously, Chris served as a senior executive and founding member of Digital Realty Trust. Chris was Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for Digital Realty Trust, responsible for growth initiatives including establishing the company's presence in Asia. Prior to this role, Chris was the Senior Vice President of Sales and Technical Services with international responsibilities including sales, marketing, design, construction, technical operations and customer service. Prior to the initial public offering of Digital Realty, Chris was founder and managing director of Proferian, a company which was responsible for marketing and sales within the GI Partners portfolio with an emphasis on technology-related leasing including colocation. Proferian served as an operating platform for GI Partners and was rolled into the IPO for Digital Realty Trust. Prior to Proferian, Chris served as a consultant for CRG West, now Coresite. For the first ten years of his career, Chris was active in international and domestic sales, sales management and product development at Nortel Networks, a major supplier of products and services that support the Internet and other public and private data, voice and multimedia communications networks. Mr. Crosby received a B.S. degree in Computer Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin.

Critical Facilities Summit: How has the role of data center facility professionals changed over the years?

Chris Crosby: Innovation in terms of the applications that run within data centers, as well as the facilities themselves, continue to rapidly evolve. Five years ago, for example, wholesale data centers tended to be located in just five or six metro areas in the US, but innovation in building methodologies, etc. are now enabling customers to have their data centers delivered in locations that are not traditional "data center" markets. This has led to an increased need for data center professionals to be familiar with not just the technical aspect of the business. For example, real estate is now an area where they need to be conversant. Within the facility, enhancements like virtualization and the cloud are now placing greater pressure on data center personnel to track and manage their equipment and the applications that they support. You can't track things on a spreadsheet anymore. Thus, today's data center professional must be much better versed in the things like the management aspects of the facility than they were just a few years ago. The end result of this continued evolution is the need for professionals to continually be enhancing their skill sets.

CFS: What is the best mix of skills for today's mission critical facility management career?

Crosby: An individual seeking to embark on a mission critical facility management career today needs to be well versed in both the technical and business side of the business. This means a solid background in areas like engineering and finance to make them the well rounded individuals the industry needs today. Just a strong technical background will no longer be enough to successfully operate in today's data center environment.

CFS: What does the future hold for the mission critical job market?

Crosby: The world continues to migrate to an information based economy. The need for data to flow across global boundaries in near instantaneous fashion will continue to drive the need for more processing and storage capability and data centers are the home for that equipment and the corresponding applications that they do (will support). As a result, we can expect to see a continual increase in the demand for the professionals required to staff these facilities.

CFS: How would you suggest implementing a new skillset for data centers already in place?

Crosby: Fortunately for today's data center professionals the need for continuing education to enable them to continue to successfully operate increasingly complex facilities is being recognized by leading educational institutions like SMU. Through programs like their new MS in Data Center Engineering today's professional has more and more options to augment their capabilities while continuing in their present positions. Thus, the necessary new skill sets can be cultivated without any disruption to their current work environments and with no degradation in the level of support they currently provide their organizations.

CFS: You will be presenting "The Data Center Skillset" at the Critical Facilities Summit. What is the biggest takeaway attendees can receive from participating in this session?

Crosby: I think that the biggest takeaways that attendees can expect to walk away with are:

  • Understanding how data centers are changing
  • What these changes mean for them
  • The skills they will need to continue to advance their own careers and the avenues available to obtain them.


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