I’m just back from the 7x24Exchange Fall meeting in Arizona, and I’ll admit to being very impressed by the program the organization put together. I found almost all the sessions to be very strong and right on target for the assembled group. I hope the survey results confirm my finding. Attendance was also very good, even considering that a number of familiar faces stayed east to deal with the aftermath of the superstorm. Still I find myself more concerned over the people and companies not in attendance: the companies and people who never attend 7x24Exchange events—or the events put together by AFCOM, DatacenterDynamics, Gartner, 451Research, or anyone else.

I can only assume that these “no shows” do not find that data center industry tradeshows offer a compelling value proposition. Certainly, it’s not because the information provided at these shows is not valuable. And, at 7x24Exchange in particular, the speakers and other experts are available. For instance, I spent a few very enjoyable hours listening to AOL’s Mike Manos, Digital Realty’s Jim Smith, Joe Kava and Dan Costello of Google, Rosendin’s Bill Mazzetti, and others trading tips and war stories, right around the fire pit, where anyone could join them. The finance titans are regulars at events, too, and just as available.

Maybe it’s the fight club mentality. But perhaps the no-shows feel they are doing just fine for themselves by reinventing the wheel every time they build, updating themselves on the latest ASHRAE publication, and learning about new technologies from vendor reps.

DSA Encore’s Paul Adams helped me understand the issue, when he said that our industry doesn’t understand the contributions made by our predecessors. He suggested that Mission Critical pursue a series of articles about those who have made great contributions to the industry. And he’s right, many industry professionals don’t recognize the great thinking that helped form the industry and its existing practices.

Paul cited Peter Gross, Bill Mazzetti, Chuck Shalley, Rudy Bergthold, and Mike Mosman as good examples of people who had changed the industry. I can think of many others who should be added to this august group. But Paul’s main point was that the whole industry would benefit from making use of this collective wisdom before these experts are lost to the industry.

With that thought in mind, I told Paul that Mission Critical could certainly start this effort, with the idea of starting a Hall of Fame for data center innovators, so that these innovators and others could be recognized for their work.

What’s the relationship between the industry “no shows” and the many companies that have begun allowing its personnel to “open their kimonos” by sharing best practices? Why do tradeshow operators have an obligation to reach out to those who don’t understand the value proposition of participating? Why should we care?

Well, I think, that companies that understand the value proposition of sharing information are also those most likely to have low PUEs and high reliability and availability. Those companies that stay away are less likely to understand and use best practices, which means that they will be the ones who fail their customers and undercut confidence in energy-saving techniques, cause the feds to increase oversight and regulation, or provide the next headline-seeking writer from the New York Times with valid examples.

In short, this industry will only do well by doing good. And we have to continue to struggle to increase participation by improving our value proposition.