Matt Gleason, general manager for Coresite's New York region, has been voted Mission Critical Magazine’sInaugural Data Center Facility Manager of the Year for 2015. With the privilege to write about Matt and this prestigious MVP award, I endeavored to learn more about Matt and was not surprised in the end with the choice.
Consider the supporting evidence to make the case obvious and easy: Matt is being recognized for work in his previous role as CoreSite's vice president of facilities to improve the performance and operational efficiency of one of the larges publicly held dat center providers in North America. Consider the size and scale and criticality associated with improving that type of infrastructure, while it’s hot, with no downtime. That’s a tough pedigree to beat. MVP candidate for sure.
Consider the credentials of the judge and criteria. Mission Critical Magazine’s editor and staff collaborated with Julius Neudorfer on the qualifying criteria for the Facility Manager of the Year. As chief technology officer and founder of North American Access Technologies, Inc., a member of AFCOM, ASHRAE, BICSI, IEEE, and The Green Grid, a Certified Data Center Design Professional “CDCDP” designer and instructor, author of countless white papers and articles, and an instructor for the US Department of Energy “Data Center Energy Practitioner” “DCEP” program, I’d say Julius qualifies as an All Star Judge.
Together, they came up with three criteria to evaluate the demonstrated proficiency of nominated
1. Efficiency – Demonstrated energy, operations, and sustainability efficiencies
2. Innovation – Improved data center operations through new or existing technologies, approaches, and/or methodologies
3. Management – Demonstrated team leadership, ownership of technical issues, empowerment of IT considerations, quality assurance, exceeding customer expectations, etc.
For starters, Matt has one heck of a canvas to work his magic on. Started in 2001 by affiliates of The Carlyle Goup and then known as CRG West, CoreSite Realty Corporation delivers secure, reliable, high-performance data center solutions across 2.75 million sq ft in eight key North American markets: Boston, Chicago, Denver (2), Los Angeles (2), Miami, New York (2), NoVA/ DC (3), and Silicon Valley (3) serving over 800 enterprises, networks, cloud and IT service providers, and digital media providers. CoreSite’s portfolio has performed at 99.9999% (six 9s) uptime for the past four years running and is backed by a 100% uptime SLA as well as a diverse in-house team of 50 technicians and facility managers.
Not surprisingly, Matt hails from Navy Nuke origins as an Electrician’s Mate in the Navy for six years. He spent five years as a technical manager for Switch & Data before Billie Haggard, CoreSite’s SVP Data Centers, was fortunate enough to find and hire Matt in 2010. Matt returned to school while working full time to earn a BS in Business Management at Liberty University in 2011. The rest, as they say, is history.
Consider the canvas Julius had to work from in considering the project accomplishment credentials Billie Haggard, CoreSite SVP Data Center Facilities submitted for Matt’s nomination.
• Overaw CAPEX and OPEX projects resulting in a PUE reduction of almost 20% during a 24-month period. Projects ranged from UPS and mechanical system replacement, equipment configuration changes, new design and technology advancements, efficiency monitoring, and water reduction
• Responsible for the implementation of a security officer, technician, and facility manager qualification certification and training program nationwide
• Achieved a 99.9999+ uptime for last four years running
• Implemented real-time PUE monitoring, DCIM, and energy monitoring for all facilities nationally
• Served as guest evangelist for customer exhibits and trade shows around operational excellence in data centers
• Responsible for data center compliance with SSAE-16 and PCI DSS
Returning to the “Talent Matters” format, we endeavored to dive in beyond the armor of accomplishment and accolades to find out what really makes this guy tick. As it turns out, no surprise, it’s his day job!
When posed the standard Steve Manos “What feeds your soul?” question, designed to bring out the soft diminutive human being in all of us, Matt hardly complied. His answer – successful people.
Matt has one of the more progressive and enduring perspectives relating to his life’s journey – his is really a business education disguised as a technical job. Success is hardly measured in financial achievement. Matt is inspired by successful people in that they all have a continuous thirst for knowledge and improving every day. Technically we may be limited in our options on a given day or month but never personally. We grow by choice with what we possess in terms of ambition and curiosity and an interest to give versus take. All it requires is that we take a more holistic perspective, effectively looking beyond the facilities, plants, and power to understand the company’s broader proposition. How do we improve? How do we increase our sales capability and provision space faster? How do we address customer satisfaction by anticipating needs? What is their business? Who are their customers? How do we balance our customer’s resource requirements with the responsibility to operate profitably on a given day or month?
Even the Data Center Genie felt privileged to interview Matt, obviously at the leading edge of combining talent and technology to push progress, and get his credentialed perspective of crucial initiatives to ensure the industry’s enduring success. Here are Matt’s three wishes –
1. Continued trend toward more standardized maintenance programs – The scope of work associated with maintaining these facilities has become really complex. Twenty of the checklist items we have and require may be very well-documented. Unfortunately we need a much broader list of maintenance items and activities in order to navigate and train successfully. Manufacturer’s recommendations at this point are really insufficient.
2. Improvement in training and credentialing – There are really two sides to this one. Operations and facilities separately. At CoreSite we define operations as the racking and stacking and cross connects and cabinets. We define facilities as all of the mechanical, electrical, MEP, HVAC, and the plant itself. There really is no formal designation or degree or form of acceptance in terms of qualifications for these broad ranging considerations which are all ultimately integrated and tightly orchestrated to ensure uptime. CoreSite itself has something of an internal university in order to train existing and new data center employees.
3. Finding qualified talent – We discussed partnering with a couple of different firms and have tried both insourcing in outsourcing solutions. We found great success with the navy nuclear veterans.
Is Matt Gleason the Michael Jordan of Data Center Facility Managers? I’m sure Matt would much prefer to invite all other nominees, and those who weren’t nominated but aspire to improve, to the podium with him than stand alone. That said, given the evidence provided, no one could argue that in order to succeed, one need to only endeavor to “Be like Matt.” Unfortunately our interview was conducted via phone vs. in the Big Apple, so I didn’t get to see his shoes. n