ORLANDO, Fla. — It happened again — a record-smashing number of industry professionals and students attended the 7x24 Exchange Intl. 2023 Spring Conference, which was held June 4-7 in Orlando, Florida.

Anyone who’s been to a 7x24 Exchange conference in the past knows there are a few “special” traditions to look forward to — one of which is the Monday morning welcome from Bob Cassiliano, chairman and CEO of 7x24 Exchange Intl.

To honor the veterans in recognition of Memorial Day, Cassiliano played a video of the National Anthem that would have brought the audience to their feet if they weren’t standing already. Although the song was not performed live, the crowd clapped and cheered, setting the stage for first-timers by demonstrating the amount of energy and enthusiasm they bring to the conference halls.


Cassiliano’s inspirational opening was a perfect segue to the keynote presentation, “Opportunities Earned & Leadership Learned: An American Hero’s Journey.” Florent Groberg, former Captain of the U.S. Army and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, not only has a remarkable story to share, but he also has a captivating way of telling it. He relived moments from his entire life on stage for the entire audience to witness. Some funny, some sad. Some typical, some wildly unique. The anecdotes took listeners to from France to the U.S. to Afghanistan and touched on everything from childish games to death and terrorism, each one containing a lesson learned.

Groberg talked about what it was like to join the Army, train in the Army, learn from the Army, and serve for the Army. He talked about what it was like to be recognized by the Army and why the Medal of Honor is “the most uncomfortable award to wear.”

It wasn’t a smooth transition from the battlefield to the hospital to the head of Microsoft Azure’s Global Government Mission. In fact, it almost didn’t happen because Groberg didn’t think he had a place in the industry. And, that’s exactly what made him the ideal speaker for this particular event.

The conference theme was “Pandemic Lessons Learned,” and considering the labor shortage is not only the most challenging issue facing the industry but was also exacerbated as a result of COVID-19, recognizing transferable skills and helping talent overcome imposter syndrome is one of the most powerful weapons in the industry’s arsenal.

Speaking of talent — finding it is one thing, but retaining it is another, and Chris Crosby, founder and CEO of Compass Datacenters, shared some tips on how to be successful at both during Tuesday’s keynote presentation, “The Unappreciated Value.” He defined what corporate culture is and, equally important, what it’s not and used real-life examples to prove why it’s the most important investment for a company.


General sessions covered nearly every aspect of the industry.
Images by Amy Al-Katib



General sessions covered nearly every aspect of the industry.

Nic Bustamante, chief technology officer, Corscale; Gary Russinko, principal engineer, kW Mission Critical Engineering; and Aaron Schott, director of product management of Data Center Solutions, ZincFive had a panel discussion moderated by Harry Handlin, U.S. data center segment leader for ABB. The topic was “Future-Proof the Supply Chain.”

Another panel followed moderated Steve Shapiro, partner, EYP Mission Critical Facilities – part of Ramboll. Panelists Jon Gibbs, senior program manager of development, Cologix; Ian Levine, senior lead commissioning agent and project manager, EYP Mission Critical Facilities; and Ramzi Namek, senior director of design management, NTT, discussed “Pandemic Lessons Learned During the Commissioning Phase.”

Robin Daly, vice president, Envirotrol; Randi Johnson, data center facility operations area director, Meta; Kerry King, director of global data center facility operations support, Meta; and Karen Petersburg, design director, Digital Realty, shared their knowledge on the WiMCO panel. Moderator Lillian Rivera, director of marketing, Bureau Veritas Primary Integration, asked questions relating to “The 21st Century Gold Rush — Will the Education Gap Result in Fool’s Data?”

Bernie Oegema, data center business development manager, Siemens, and Simone D’Angelo, senior manager of engineering deisgn, BMO Financial Group, detailed the various phases of “Applying Machine Learning to Optimize Data Center Cooling.”

Luke Durcan, innovation director, Schneider Electric, and Sudhir Kalra, executive vice president of global operations, Compass Datacenters, discussed the deployed solution and value created with a system level On-Condition service approach in “Real World Transition to On-Condition.”

Attendees could choose between the following breakout sessions:

  • CO2 for Data Centers: The Practical Journey to Sustainability
  • Skills Training and Education ROI
  • The Pandemic Changed Everything Else, Now Let’s Change the Delivery Model for
  • Staffing Supply Chains, and Black Swans, Data Center Risk Factors You Need to Be Aware Of
  • Economical, Fast, and Robust: Automated Fleet Management of Critical System Devices

Entertainment and networking

One of the things that pushes the 7x24 Exchange Intl. conferences over the top is the entertainment and networking opportunities provided. Aside from the spectacular food, the strategically timed breaks, and the famous ice cream bar, there was something for all attendees to enjoy.

As always, the conference kicked off on Sunday night with a welcome reception.