In the upcoming (Jan/Feb) issue of Mission Critical, Chris Crosby tells Andy Lane, "This is obviously a great industry to be in, but think about how many new ideas that have already been done in other industries are being re-created here. We tout all these “new technologies” like we created them and own them. Modularity. Air-side economizers is free cold air. Hot and cold aisle separation has been done in fab spaces for years."

I'm thrilled that Chris would say that, as I agree wholeheartedly with him, although I am surprised that he used construction techniques as a his example. In this same issue Dennis Cronin talks about his new assignment at Steel Orcas, "When the Steel ORCA team started planning, it was our intention to be the 'Greenest Data Center on Earth,' and, as a data center/services company, we were in the enviable position of being unrestrained by established corporate policies, legacy designs, or outdated facilities."

Dennis and Chris are just two among many who are finding the current economics of the data center conducive to risk taking, both professionally and personally. They are leveraging histories of success to innovate in the data center space. And in most industries in today's economy, that would mark them as unusual.

But not in the data center industry. Take Dennis's remark that "established corporate policies, legacy designs, or outdated facilities" would not constrain his team's efforts to build a green data center.

These constraints exist in other industries and make professionals in those industries at least as resistant to change as data center professionals. Maybe more so.

Consider the lighting industry, where savings are measured in the fractions of a watt per square foot. So much can go wrong that even these small savings never materialize. And ASHRAE/IES 90.1 cannot guarantee occupant satisfaction. Much the same is true for HVAC systems.

The slow pace of product development and adoption in these spaces means that these professionals are far more conservative than data center professionals. Lighting engineers would never face the problem of too rapid product innovation. "Steel Orca, Cronin, and the entire data center industry face it every day. As Cronin says, "Along the way we found numerous solutions and were constantly challenged by new ideas/products in the development pipeline that outperformed the latest advanced products in the marketplace."

So what functions does the data center industry lack that mark it as immature. True standards come to mind, as does the lack of an academic center, a peer-reviewed journal, and widely recognized third-party testing.

Developing these functions might slow product development, but they would certainly reduce or eliminate the guesswork that accompanies the application of innovative technologies in this industry.

In a review of Standards: Recipes for Reality, Evgeny Morozov writes, "Standards play a consequential role in nearly every aspect of our lives, from the quality of our food to the octane of our gasoline. They introduce predictability into our chaotic existence, sparing us unnecessary hassle, obviating routine decisions and allowing us to get on with life. It's surprising that we don't reflect on them more often.According to the reviewer, The book's author, Michigan State University's Lawrence Busch "has produced a stimulating account of how and why we create standards. Standards: Recipes for Reality is not a technical study of particular standards but an eclectic, philosophical attempt to examine how standards 'are used, spoken of, employed, designed, put into common practice.' "

I'm planning to read this book and will let you know just how well its precepts apply to the data center industry.