I’ve attended every single Symposium, including the very first one, where I met Uptime Institute’s late founder, Mr. Ken Brill at the Orlando Hyatt Airport nearly a decade ago.

At the time, I was a data center reporter, covering the challenges facing data center operators with increasing server densities and aging facilities infrastructure. I had just sat in a session where a data center manager from a very large financial organization had explained very candidly, the interpersonal and technical problems he was facing within his organization to improve efficiency and reliability of the data center. This man was frustrated nearly to the point of tears, and was yelling in the session.

As a reporter, I was salivating for the opportunity to write about something so real, and interesting. I’d never seen this kind of information-sharing in a conference of any kind. And that’s when I met Ken. He’d spotted me in the back of the room, writing furiously in my notebook.

He pulled me aside, and true to his inquisitive nature, spent the next 15 minutes asking me about my impressions of the event and the issues discussed so far. Then toward the end of our brief meeting, he leaned in, and whispered “If you ever write anything that hurts any of my people, I will bury you.”

Classic Ken.

This is the first Symposium since Ken’s passing, and we are honored to be able to continue Ken’s vision and legacy with some significant changes to the program, and contributions from the industry.

Last year we renamed and restructured the longstanding Green Enterprise IT Awards, Uptime Institute’s efficiency recognition program, to the Brill Awards for Efficient IT. The refocused program emphasizes effective management behaviors and operational improvements, and judging criteria strongly favor transferability of knowledge.

These were some of the pillars of Ken’s beliefs on how to most effectively achieve data center efficiency. And the industry responded in force – with over 90 distinguished judges, and winners and participants from the biggest global enterprise data center operators.

Senior executives from winning companies including Kaiser Permanente, Telefonica, Taiwan Mobile, Morgan Stanley, Digital Realty, Entel, Fidelity Investments, and eBay will present case studies next week.

Additionally, we are thrilled to recognize Barclays and Sun Life Financial as winners of the Third Annual Server Roundup. This is Uptime Institute’s program to encourage the removal and recycling of obsolete IT equipment, racked and running in nearly every data center around the globe.

As early as 2006, Ken identified comatose servers as one of the biggest opportunities for companies to improve overall IT energy efficiency. Mr. Brill advocated for industry action on this issue, but he often cautioned, “Nobody gets promoted for going around in the data center and unplugging servers.” Mr. Brill meant that data center professionals had no incentive to remove comatose machines and that IT executives lacked insight into the impact that idle IT equipment was having on the cost structures of their organizations, as their departments do not pay the data center power bill.

Today, that situation is changing. Since launching this contest in 2011, participants in the Uptime Institute Server Roundup competition have removed 40,000 physical units of obsolete server hardware. In two years of disciplined server decommissioning, Barclays has saved $10 M. Executives from Barclays and Sun Life will share their success stories and challenges at Symposium next week.

Since 2006, the mission of Uptime Institute Symposium has been to continuously increase uptime and global IT productivity through benchmarking and collaborative learning. Over the years, the Institute focused on identifying practical, immediate data center design and operations improvements that yield significant energy savings without capital expenditure, and offering strategies for breaking down the organizational barriers that undermine progress.

Uptime Institute Symposium calls on IT and facilities executives to develop a common language, meaningful metrics, and cross-disciplinary skills to meet rapidly evolving computing demands.

I look forward to sharing time and knowledge with many of you next week, and hope the insight you gain at this event will shape your organizations’ future success.