With International Data Center Day upon us, there is no better time to recognize the enormous role data centers play in keeping us connected. This fantastic technology helps power our businesses, keep our homes warm, and even entertain us. Data centers operate around the clock to ensure we have the data connectivity and hosting we need, and they are only getting more efficient. We hope this day continues to bring recognition to the industry, inspiring the next generation to choose data centers as a rewarding and essential career path and drive the sustainability in our digital world. 

Shane Menking joined Data Foundry as his first foray into the data center industry, spending over two decades playing an instrumental role in growing the company from a startup into a large and highly respected provider. As president and chief financial officer for more than 15 years, Menking provided invaluable contributions and developed the leadership and expertise he now brings to his role as chief operating officer of Element Critical, a national data center colocation, cloud services, and managed services provider.

The demand for data centers is at an all-time high, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11.4%, as predicted by Gartner. Menking believes this growth is spurred by digital transformation initiatives, further driven by the global pandemic. Billions of workers may have gone home for months on end, causing normal operations to shift, and, meanwhile, digital resources took center stage. Businesses joined the shift, establishing new operational strategies, altering customer engagement patterns, and increasing their usage of data-driven technology — all of which are supported by critical data center infrastructure. Data centers all over the world scaled to meet these new challenges.

This has had a significant impact on the data center industry, which Menking has closely followed. He has seen an increase in demand for colocation and cloud connectivity services as businesses digitally transform their infrastructure to remain competitive. Organizations have been shifting from managing their own data center to outsourcing to trusted providers for IT solutions. IT environments have begun to distribute and expand to support a hybrid ecosystem. Menking also sees a resounding shift as customer interest leans toward sustainably focused supplier partners to meet their growing internal environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. Data centers have long been resource-intensive, and new initiatives to reduce or eliminate carbon emissions are making this a key focus of the industry.

These evolutions in the data center industry are important to note as we celebrate International Data Center Day. In such a complex and evolving industry, Menking understands that our teams must be prepared to keep pace with demands to support enterprise customers now and into the future. The data center industry is a critical part of our modern economy and the backbone for businesses as we continue to move forward into an increasingly data-driven world. Furthermore, data centers play a fundamental role in unlocking the future. And as all these changes are happening in an emerging age of data center efficiency and sustainability, businesses must take the time to reflect on their IT stack post-COVID and plan for the emerging future of their digital infrastructure. 

As the owner/operator of data center facilities, it is an exciting time to be in the essential services industry. We aim to inspire the emerging generation to join critical infrastructure services and support companies around the world that require data centers to power their business.