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Where is ‘Ahead of the Curve’ Anyway?

Where is ‘Ahead of the Curve’ Anyway?

A Tech Deep-Dive with Stream Data Centers’ Head of IT

Creating and delivering IT strategies that check all the boxes across security, efficiency, resilience, reliability, and beyond is no small feat. When it comes to being a data center provider, that’s when the pressure is truly on.

When global organizations entrust you with their IT infrastructure, there’s no room for mistakes. In fact, at Stream we constantly strive to continue surpassing evolving industry standards. We don’t merely serve as a home for servers and network equipment; we stand as a trusted enabler that opens new worlds of value and digital opportunity for our customers.

Our writer recently sat down with Joe Cavanaugh, Stream’s Senior Vice President of IT, to get the inside scoop on what’s new in data center IT and explore what it takes to meet those evolving demands. In addition to having a unique background in both data center operations and IT leadership, Joe is instrumental in architecting the next generation of IT across Stream’s operations. So, what better way to get acquainted with this key team member than to have a real heart to heart about today’s critical IT considerations.

Security is obviously one of the hallmarks of a data center. How do other IT trends align with today’s evolving security initiatives?

Joe Cavanaugh, SVP of IT (JC): Security in data centers has always been paramount, but right now, we’re at an especially intriguing juncture. Here are some of the trends that are really catching my attention:

  • AI and ML – Vigilant Guardians: Beyond buzzwords, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can now serve as tireless sentinels, continually monitoring the environment. They identify nuances in threats, offering unmatched protective precision. It’s like having an extra pair of ultra-sharp eyes watching over us.
  • The ‘Trust No One’ Mantra: In today’s security landscape, trust is earned, not given. Enter the world of zero-trust security. It ensures rigorous verification across all our systems — regardless of insider or outsider status. It’s a pivotal shield against evolving threats. This approach, especially with the rise of insider threats and ransomware, is a game-changer.
  • Leading the Cloud Evolution: As we lean into cloud integration, bespoke cloud-centric security solutions will emerge. Custom tailored, flexible, and designed for the modern hybrid world of data centers, they are the ultimate in data armor.

But you know, while these trends are cool and innovative, there are timeless practices we can’t ignore. Layering our security defenses is one of these practices — there’s no such thing as ‘too safe,’ right? And let’s not forget our team. Training them, making them aware — it’s like giving them their own shield against threats. And yes, regular software updates. It’s like getting those routine health check-ups — just because you feel okay doesn’t mean you skip them.

When we say, ‘the next generation of IT,’ what does that actually look like? What are the drivers of this next generation, and what technologies, methodologies, or solutions are being used to build it?

JC: When we talk about the next generation of IT, think of it as a major upgrade in the tech world. It’s a response to several significant shifts that are happening right now.

  • Data Tsunami and Swift Analytics: In this digital era, it’s not just about amassing vast data but rapidly interpreting it as well. Enabling real-time insights empowers nimble decision making. Businesses today want to know what’s happening now so they can make informed decisions as quickly as conditions and threats change.
  • Raising the Security Bar: Let me put it this way: As tech intertwines with daily life, ensuring digital asset safety and verifying authenticity becomes paramount. It’s now much more than simply locking up our digital treasures.
  • Cool Tech Stuff on the Horizon:
    • Blockchain: Think of this as your ultimate ledger. It’s way beyond just digital money; it’s about secure, transparent transactions in general.
    • Quantum Computing: If classical computers are like calculators, quantum computers are like wizardry. They are an unparalleled leap from conventional computing, making the seemingly insurmountable, achievable.
    • Holistic Business IT Investment: Ultimately, there are next-gen applications on the rise across entire operational and business footprints. There’s a lot to dig into, but here’s a peek into some of it from Gartner.
  • Methodologies & Solutions for Today’s World:
    • DevOps & Agility: Picture this: a close-knit team working hand-in-hand, developing and refining things on the fly. That’s what these methodologies bring to the table — speed and adaptability.
    • Cloud Forward: The cloud’s magic lies in its accessibility. No longer do you need massive in-house setups to launch a critical project, business or application — instead, the cloud offers the flexibility to focus on core competencies. Plus, containers ensure cross-platform harmony where everything works seamlessly.
    • Microservices: Think LEGO blocks. Instead of one monolithic piece, applications are now small blocks, making changing or upgrading parts way easier. So, in essence, the next generation of IT is about being faster, more flexible, and more secure. It’s setting up businesses to be nimble and adaptive in a fast-changing world.

With all of this in mind, what does Stream do from a security or IT perspective that helps meet new, innovative standards for customers?

JC: In the world of data centers, trust is the bedrock, and that trust is cultivated through transparency. Here’s how we accomplish those vital foundations:

  • Intuitive Dashboards:
    • Approach: We harness advanced analytics to extract key metrics — from energy consumption and cooling efficiency to security incidents — and are advancing towards presenting this via a digital dashboard. So, when our clients log in, they will have a dashboard that provides a real-time snapshot of their environment.
    • Result: It’s a living, breathing testament to service quality. Customers can see at a glance how our changes are positively impacting their experience.
  • Third-Party Validations:
    • Approach: Beyond seeking accolades, we pursue rigorous third-party audits, such as ISO 27001, as an affirmation of our world-class practices.
    • Result: For our customers, this is assurance — knowing that we adhere to (and often surpass) evolving global standards.
  • Our Own Yardsticks:
    • Approach: We’re fans of renowned frameworks, such as NIST 800-82. These serve as our internal compass, ensuring every operational tweak or decision aligns with the best in the industry.
    • Result: By mirroring these standards, we’re telling our customers: We’re not just adhering to the best. We’re emulating it.
  • Transparent Reporting:
    • Approach: Comprehensive security and operational reports are a staple, but we elevate this with an invitation: We welcome client-led audits.
    • Result: This isn’t just about showcasing improvements; it’s about allowing our customers to verify them.
  • A Feedback Loop:
    • Approach: We regularly solicit feedback, run customer surveys, and benchmark ourselves against peers. This isn’t a one-off; it’s a cycle. Feedback drives improvements, which in turn are reflected in the metrics we present.
    • Result: This iterative approach fosters alignment with client needs, ensuring our endeavors always resonate with their aspirations.

To sum this up, our philosophy is simple: It’s not about shouting our achievements from the rooftops. It’s about letting our metrics do the talking and ensuring our customers have a front-row seat to witness the strides we make.

At Stream, I’ll be honing and deepening these strategies, building out teams that make the customer experience even more transparent and seamless, and making sure that our customers know they’re ahead of global innovation. What could be more exciting than that?

Learn more about Joe in our news release.

To learn more about Stream’s suite of industry leading services, click here.

 

About Our Contributor

Joe Cavanaugh

Senior Vice President, Information Technology
As the leader of Stream Data Centers’ information technology team, Joe is instrumental in developing the vision for the company’s evolving technological goals and architecting the next generation of IT across Stream’s operations. Read More