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Financial sector data center veteran leads consulting arm

After spending 30 years as a data center manager for Verizon, First USA, Bank One and JPMorganChase, Gary Aron decided to head up the consulting services division at Aperture -- a data center software company in Stamford, Conn. Aperture's flagship product is Vista, which creates a sort of blueprint for your data center.

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Before coming to Aperture, Aron oversaw the construction and opening of three data centers for JPMorganChase, a project that took two years from design of the first facility to completion of the third.

In this interview with SearchDataCenter.com, Aron discusses how he came to be at Aperture, what he plans to do there and the major issues he sees in the data center today and down the road.

How did you decide to move from being a data center manager to doing consulting at Aperture? I purchased Vista...

as a client and worked very closely with Aperture to make enhancements for things that would support my process. So, we created this partnership. Subsequently, starting these consulting services was a very good fit. What are you going to do as a consultant? I'm establishing the data center consulting services organizations, and I'm actually spending time with clients myself -- providing our services, consulting them on things we do related to their day-to-day processes, reviewing their infrastructure. We do an overall assessment of where they are compared to where they should be in creating their data center. How does Vista fit in? It may or may not. If they purchase Vista and want help in figuring it out, I can go in and show them how to make best use of the tool. Quite often, I'll be brought in independent of the tool to assess operation of that facility. In that case, we're independent of the Vista solutions. So, I'm not out there trying to sell Vista. In the 30 years you've spent as a data center manager for Verizon and three major banks, what was the most difficult problem you encountered? If I look over the course of my career, it would have to be standard operational procedures. Most companies have a way of doing things that is sometimes documented, sometimes not documented, often passed through word of mouth. Today, people are starting to get a handle on that, in terms of operational procedures as well as what kind of data center you want to have.

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You just managed the construction and rollout of three data centers for JPMorganChase. What should data center managers focus on if they're building a new data center or upgrading an old one?
There are a lot of things. One is to understand your business and what the drivers are. You have to know what your anticipated growth rate is over the next several years, as far as you can project. You could spend hundreds of millions of dollars building your data center, and it could be obsolete. If you don't lay out the structure and technology equipment properly, you can exhaust your resources very quickly. If you're able to do those things, you can extend the life of your data center. According to a recent Gartner report, CIOs will be dealing with constraints in data center floor space and power requirements in the next three years. Do you think it's better to consolidate servers and implement virtualization or just buy more floor space?
That depends on the client and what their infrastructure is. The major issues today are power and cooling. You pack computing density into a small area, and you have to distribute that across the data center floor -- so it requires more floor space. The key is getting the power and cooling to the equipment.

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