DCD Connect New York 2024: A Look Ahead for Construction

9th April 2024

Share this post

If you’re in the data center industry, you don’t want to miss out when DCD connect comes to town. It’s one of our favorites for the excellent networking opportunities but also for the engaging content and interesting topics they discuss. This year’s New York conference was no different. Soben director, Robert Kim was at the event joining the industry’s leading thinkers to explore the ever-evolving world of data center design and construction. In this article, Robert shares his takeaways from an agenda that offered a glimpse into the future, highlighting the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI), ongoing supply chain challenges, and the growing focus on sustainability.


DCD Connect New York Day 1

AI Revolution in data center design: Are we comfortable redefining the blueprint?

The conference kicked off with a familiar question. With AI poised to revolutionize data center design, are we ready to change the design of these critical facilities. There was a lot of engaging conversation that followed. But it came as no surprise that the consensus was yes – the majority of companies are ready to evolve.

The ever-growing power demands of AI necessitate a shift towards data centers with much higher power density. Speakers like Derek Horton of Tensorwave discussed designing for racks capable of handling a staggering 300 kW, nearly triple the current maximum. This shift will require innovative solutions across the industry to accommodate these high-powered facilities. But there’s just no practical reason to hold on to the designs of the past. It’s a new world and we all need to embrace it!


Will the data center supply chain ever be improved? Or is this just a fantasy?

While there were signs of improvement in the data center supply chain compared to last year, labor shortages remain a significant hurdle. The industry has traditionally relied on a skilled workforce with many years of experience (over 75% of data center professionals have been in the industry 10+ years). However, with a large portion of this workforce nearing retirement, attracting new talent is crucial. The conference offered insightful discussions on strategies to bridge the gap, emphasizing the need for innovative recruitment methods and training programs. A great example came from DCD itself. Its DCD Academy is a fantastic initiative, working with companies throughout the data center ecosystem to build training programs that target all areas of their mission critical workforce.


DCD Connect New York Day 2 – The Road Ahead

Opening Keynote: On the edge of our seats – will AI reveal the next business models?

Day two’s keynote offered a fascinating look at how AI is transforming business models. We heard from Sarah Keller (Uber) and Darrick Horton (TensorWave), who gave inspiring accounts of how AI is changing their businesses. Horton shared how TensorWave is pushing their designers to construct buildings capable of housing 300KV racks as they bring long-term thinking into their designs. Equally as insightful, Keller talked about Uber’s rigorous approval process for their AI proposals. They manage their AI computing power as a resource, constantly looking for opportunities to improve efficiency.


Using AI to improve data center operations
Jim Gao, someone I had the pleasure of knowing from my Mountainview days, was always one of those people you knew were going to make it. So, it was great to hear about the work he’s been doing at Phaidra, developing an AI platform that can assist with tasks like maximizing energy efficiency and optimizing cooling systems. I say assist because Jim was clear in differentiating that their product is designed as a “co-pilot” for data center facility operators. These advancements hold immense potential for reducing the environmental impact of data centers. However, using AI as a collaborative tool, rather than a replacement for human expertise, is where I believe we’ll see truly monumental shifts in efficiency.


Navigating supply chain disruptions – rethinking partnerships and predictability
Have there been supply chain disruptions? I hadn’t noticed! Just kidding – of course supply chain issues were a recurring theme at this year’s DCD Connect. The importance of fostering strong partnerships throughout the data center supply chain emerged as a critical theme as the industry continues to address the disruptions we’ve all faced. Collaboration with key players like Nvidia, a dominant force in the chip market, will be essential for navigating future challenges and ensuring access to cutting-edge technologies. Here at Soben, we understand the value of strong partnerships and are committed to building lasting relationships with industry leaders.


Leading the charge towards sustainability
The conference and industry, underscored the data center industry’s responsibility to become a leader in sustainable construction practices. Companies like Schneider Electric are taking the initiative by meticulously tracking the carbon footprint of their entire supply chain. These efforts pave the way for a more sustainable future for the industry.


The road ahead
The DCD Connect New York conference provided a valuable roadmap for the future of data center construction. As construction consultants, we must be prepared to adapt to this ever-changing landscape. A focus on AI integration, innovative labor solutions, and sustainable practices will be paramount. Building strong partnerships will also be essential to navigate supply chain disruptions and ensure project success.

I came away from DCD Connect New York inspired and optimistic for the future. As ever, the event was an invaluable way of staying ahead of the curve and spending time with some of the leading thinkers across our industry. I truly believe that the sector is well-prepared to navigate the road ahead, and that by understanding and embracing these advancements, we can ensure that data center construction continues to meet the ever-growing demands of the digital age.


Diversifying the industry

A champion for diversity in our industry, Soben HR Director Ana Liesch, also attended the event, where she joined the exclusive iM Women lunch for a discussion around the challenges and opportunities faced in the industry.

Ana said:

“I had an incredible experience attending the DCD conference in NYC. I had the opportunity to meet and network with so many powerful women in the industry at the iMWomen lunch. I am looking forward to collaborating with many of them on initiatives that are truly changing the direction of this ever-growing industry.”

Contact [email protected] to find out more about opportunities for ambitious women to build exciting Data Center careers at Soben.


Where ambition meets delivery

Soben is the industry leader in innovative data center construction consultancy, working with the leading hyperscale and colocation data center companies on some of their most complex schemes. Find out more here or reach out directly to Robert at: [email protected].


Data Center Trends 2024

In the fight to meet the demand for new data centers, the path ahead is far from simple. From power problems and skills shortages, to soaring material costs and lead times that refuse to return to pre-Covid dimensions. But for those who successfully navigate the challenges, there will be reward aplenty. That’s why it’s more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve. Packed with experience, insights, and advice from our data center specialists around the world, discover the top ten trends that are shaping the industry in 2024. Read the report here.