Tom Roberts, a data center industry expert with 30 years of experience, was recently named president of AFCOM, the data center management association. Roberts replaces Jill Yaoz, who steps down from the position after 10 years.
“I am truly excited about having the opportunity to continue AFCOM’s great core values as a membership association which is being vendor neutral,” said Roberts. “I feel, with my history coming from the data center world, I can provide some insight to what our members are looking for.”
Roberts was the senior technical architect for data centers at Trinity Health, a health-care system with revenues of $9 billion, managing 25 data centers across nine states. Prior to his new position, Roberts had served as the president of AFCOM’s Michigan chapter since 2003. In 2011, he was named AFCOM’s Data Center Manager of the Year.
Roberts said he is determined to keep up AFCOM’s position as a leading resource for data center professionals.
“We pride ourselves on our learning environment. An environment that is strictly educational,” Roberts stated.
Roberts said his first priority is to communicate with AFCOM’s chapters, both local and international, and strengthen the union between them and improve member services. Due to AFCOM’s size – there are 4,500 members and more than 40 chapters – Roberts said it has been a challenge in the past with communication and sharing content among the chapters.
“But by bringing forward a closer relationship with chapters, we will be able to help them out by bringing materials and the content needed to the meetings,” Roberts explained.
Roberts said AFCOM’s primary role is to keep its members up to date on the latest trends and changes. Roberts said in his other role as chair of AFCOM’s Data Center Institute Board, which functions as the group’s research branch, he plans to hold regular meetings.
“AFCOM is a resource of education,” he said. “We are here to present different topics and processes to our members so they can decide what is best for the companies they represent.”
Roberts said he understands more people, as well as enterprises, are turning to cloud-based services and AFCOM has to acclimate itself to that movement. At the Data Center World conference in Nashville, taking place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, members can attend several sessions related to cloud computing in the data center.
AFCOM also tests new technologies from companies like Facebook and Google for data center efficiencies it can pass on to its members.
“They are implementing state of the art designs,” said Roberts. “However, not everyone can implement these state of the art designs, but everyone can take the ideas and concepts of these centers and see how it relates to their own data center.”
AFCOM shares the new designs with its members and provides contacts with the designers and other professionals in the field.
“AFCOM looks ahead to what data center managers need to know and prepare them for those changes,” said Roberts.