AFCOM has announced the finalists for its annual “Data Center Manager of the Year” award. The 2015 finalists are Michael Cunningham, director, University Data Centers at The University of Texas at Austin; Bryon Miller, SVP of Operations at FORTRUST and Brian Smith, director, Critical Facilities at Cerner Corporation.  These IT professionals have all been recognized for outstanding leadership and excellence in the field of data center and facilities management and were nominated by their peers. The Data Center Manager of the Year winner will be announced during a special awards luncheon on Tuesday, April 21 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm in the Grand Ballroom at Data Center World Global.  

AFCOM’s Data Center Manager of the Year Award recognizes outstanding leadership and excellence in the field of data center and facilities management. Award recipients are effective leaders who run highly efficient data centers, giving their company an edge in the industry. The award embodies a tenure of excellence, innovation, superior customer service, creating a positive team environment and overall community focus.

Mike Cunningham, Director of University Data Centers, University of Texas at Austin

In addition to providing day-to-day leadership for the University Data Centers, Mike’s responsibilities include strategy, design, and engineering for data centers and infrastructure, and the coordination of the IT Service Organization’s business continuity program.  Prior to joining the University of Texas, Mike spent 10 Years at Dell Inc. as Director of Global Facilities Development and Sr. Engineering Manager in the World Wide Process Technology Group.  He was instrumental in expanding the Office, Manufacturing and Data Center portfolio across several continents.  Prior to joining Dell, Mike spent 18 years with IBM Corp. in various management roles in facilities and manufacturing engineering in the Personal Computer Division.

“Information and change is coming at us at the speed of light these days,” said Mike Cunningham. “This constant barrage can be dizzying at times.  “I attempt to live by the direction given to me from a former leader and mentor - Focus on the critical few areas where as a leader, you can make a difference.  Don’t get distracted by the trivial minutia that can boil up and overwhelm.  By looking at life in today’s data center through that lens, my team and I are able direct our focus to keep pace and excel!”

Bryon Miller, Senior Vice President of Operations for Fortrust

As the longest tenured employee at the company with more than 30 years of management experience, Bryon provides direct oversight for all aspects of data center operations including security, IT services, facilities, sales engineering, service delivery, 7X24 operations center, construction management and systems implementation and monitoring. Bryon is heavily involved in developing the organization’s processes and procedures and is responsible for FORTRUST’s extensive customized Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) systems.

"As a service provider, the best way to keep pace in an accelerated data center environment is to stay in tune with customer’s needs and expectations, whether the customers are internal or external,"  said Bryon Miller.  "By focusing on customer needs, data center operators will be able to identify areas of improvement and, if acted upon, will strengthen their data center. Another important factor is to keep abreast of the ever changing technology that supports a data center.  We must have the courage to implement new ideas that help us be more efficient and effective."

Brian D. Smith, Director - Critical Facilities at Cerner Corp.

Brian is responsible for the data centers and teams who provide around-the-clock operations and support for Cerner’s remote-hosted clients and internal information technology (IT) services. Brian oversees the engineers who monitor, maintain and operate 3 corporate data centers and 10 remote-hosted service facilities. Throughout his 15-year Cerner career, he has held multiple roles supporting Remote Hosting Option (RHO) for clients, which provides predictable, uninterrupted connectivity and 24x7x365 support. Prior to Cerner, Smith worked for Lucent Technologies and Broadcast Data Systems.

 “Growth, innovation, and market pressures require a well-balanced and proactive approach to data center operations management, and the speed of change in our industry is only increasing,” said Brian D. Smith. “To keep pace on behalf of my company, I’ve focused on building a knowledgeable staff, leveraging business intelligence to better anticipate demand, and regularly connecting with peers and partners to stay abreast of the latest developments and proven strategies. With the right information in hand, and a team that delivers strong execution against our goals, I’m able to spend more of my time focused on the future needs of our business and clients, rather than being mired in day-to-day decisions.”