Coincidentally, two well-respected organizations, the Uptime Institute and DatacenterDynamics contact me as part of mass mailings relating to their industry research. The Uptime Institute released the results of its second annual data center industry survey, which it conducted in March and April 2012. DatacenterDynamics emailed asking for my participation in its census, apparently as part of its efforts to update the census it did in 2011.

I recommend you find time to read both reports, as well as DatacenterDynamics 2012 census, when it is available. The insights are invaluable.

In a nutshell, the Uptime Institute says that its “invitation to the industry at large was met by 2,000 stakeholders, including vendors, consultants, and users. The results focus on the 1,100 owners and operators from around the world. This data provides a true picture of where the industry is headed as our sample base represents many of the top data center owners and operators across the globe.”

Datacenter Dynamics says, “The 2011 Data Center Industry Census was designed to be the largest ever comparative study of data center operators and end-users, in order to:

1.      Provide statistically valid snapshots of scope and direction of the global data center industry as of July 2011.

2.      Collect information from all sides of the industry (owners, operators, suppliers, vendors) and make that information available back to the industry.

3.      Enable comparison between markets to track individual market development.

4.      Create opportunity for the industry to come together and help raise money for a worthy global cause - the UNICEF Children’s Emergency fund”

The survey results were based on 5400 interviews, of which 3800 responses came from data center owner/operators.

In a recent editorial, I wrote that the “Fight Club” mentality of the data center industry impedes its development and slows technological advances. In particular it creates a divide of haves/have nots. I predicted that the gates surrounding the fight club would not last.

These research projects—and the willingness of data center owners and operators to participate—are a leading indication that industry professionals are slowly coming around to the view that widespread sharing of information could be beneficial. Remember a very large number of professionals participated in this survey by sharing information, and received no compensation or direct benefit for doing so.

Progress is slow. These surveys do not required detailed technical information from respondents or audit responses for accuracy. Yet the surveys have value, and data center owners and operators did provide glimpses of their facilities for the general good, rather than ignoring the questions.

 I expect participation to rise, and the number of free riders to decrease, as the direct benefits of transparency increase. Instead of a secretive fight club maybe the industry can move its action to pay per view.