Dean Nelson, Founder and Chairman at Infrastructure Masons, brings a wealth of experience from leading $10 billion in infrastructure projects across nine countries. 

Speaking with ADAPT’s Senior Research Director, Matt Boon, Dean shared his insights on the future of software-defined data centres, the realistic expectations of 5G, and how infrastructure leaders can drive transformation. 

Dean joins 150 CTOs, Heads of Cloud, Infrastructure, Data Centre, Architecture and Engineering from firms contributing a quarter of the region’s GDP at Cloud & Infrastructure Edge, discussing visibility, simplification, orchestration, and optimisation. 

 

The Software-defined Data Centre Vision 

Dean Nelson discussed the evolution of the software-defined data centre (SDDC) from its origins in 2009.  

While compute, storage, and network resources have long been software-defined, he emphasised the need to incorporate power management into this framework. 

Dean highlighted the discrepancy between highly efficient IT components and lagging facilities management.  

By virtualising power like other resources, data centres can dynamically optimise their use of allocated capacity, enhancing efficiency and reducing redundancy. 

 

Economic Drivers and Hyperscaler Demands 

Economic pressures, particularly the demands of hyperscalers – the largest consumers of data centre capacity, are driving the need for software-defined power. 

Hyperscalers, having already implemented advanced power optimisation in their own facilities, expect the same capabilities from colocation providers. 

Colocation providers face the challenge of meeting these demands while upholding service level agreements (SLAs) and profitability.  

Dean argued that software-defined power management offers a solution, enabling them to unlock stranded power, optimise capacity utilisation, and improve margins. 

 

The Future of Edge Computing 

Dean also touched upon the growing importance of edge computing, predicting it will eventually surpass core data centres due to the advent of 5G, enabling greater bandwidth and lower latency.  

Emerging technologies like gaming, medical applications, smart cities, and autonomous vehicles will rely on edge computing’s capabilities. 

He emphasised the need to rethink traditional data centre deployments for edge computing, considering modular units and micro-edge deployments, and addressing the unique security and scalability challenges posed by the edge environment. 

 

Enabling Innovation and Transformation 

For leaders in technology and infrastructure, Dean underscored the importance of fostering innovation and transformation.  

He encouraged a departure from proven patterns, advocating for empowering engineering teams to think creatively and explore new solutions.  

This approach has historically led to groundbreaking advancements, such as the first fuel cell-powered data centre at eBay. 

Dean believes that true innovation comes from challenging conventional thinking and empowering teams to engineer transformative solutions. 

 

Key Takeaways 

Virtualise power management: Integrate power management into the software-defined framework to optimise data centre efficiency and reduce redundancy. 

Meet hyperscaler demands: Adopt software-defined power management to unlock stranded capacity and improve margins while meeting the sophisticated demands of hyperscalers. 

Embrace edge computing: Prepare for the rise of edge computing by designing scalable and secure infrastructure capable of handling the unique challenges of edge deployments. 

Foster innovation: Encourage engineering teams to think differently and explore new solutions to drive transformative changes in infrastructure management. 

Leverage economic pressures: Use economic pressures as a catalyst for adopting software-defined solutions, ensuring long-term efficiency and competitiveness in the data centre market. 

 

Contributors
Dean Nelson Chairman & Founder of Infrastructure Masons
Dean Nelson is the Founder and Chairman of Infrastructure Masons, an independent industry group of executive and technology professionals entrusted with building... More

Dean Nelson is the Founder and Chairman of Infrastructure Masons, an independent industry group of executive and technology professionals entrusted with building and operating the physical and logical structures of the Digital Age.

Dean has led $10B in infrastructure projects in 9 countries. His extensive architecture, engineering and operations experience includes 29 years in Hardware, 22 years in Network, 17 years in Infrastructure Software and 17 years in Data Centers. He has produced numerous award winning innovations in mission critical facilities and compute environments. He also holds four US patents.

Until 2019, Dean was Head of Uber Compute, at Uber. His team is responsible for Metal as a Service (MaaS) technical infrastructure (data center, compute, storage, network and infrastructure software) and business functions serving Uber’s global leading ridesharing business, as well as UberEatsUberFreightUberHealthUberForBusiness, and Autonomous vehicle and UberAir development.

Prior to Uber, Dean worked at Ebay Inc for 6 ½ years as the Vice President of Global Foundation Services, which served over 300 million active users enabling over $250Bn of enabled commerce volume annually. At end of his tenure at ebay, his team successfully integrated, then split ebay and paypal infrastructures into two independent internet companies. Prior to ebay, Dean worked at Sun Microsystems for 17 years in various technical, management and executive leadership roles in Manufacturing, Engineering, IT and Real Estate. His final project was the consolidation of Sun’s multi-billion dollar global technical infrastructure portfolio of over 1,000 facilities.

Dean is creator of the Digital Service Efficiency methodology, the first miles per gallon measurement for technical infrastructure, used to measure ebay.com as a single system. He served as the Chair of the Technology Business Management Council High Tech Workgroup, and Chairman & Founder of Data Center Pulse in 2009 – an exclusive datacenter owner community with over 9,000 members in 100 countries. In 2016, Dean founded Infrastructure Masons, an industry association where infrastructure professionals connect, grow and give back. Dean was identified by SearchDatacenter.com as one of the top five people who changed the data center. Dean is also the recipient of Sun’s prestigious Innovation AwardModular DC Deployment award and Best DC Design award from Uptime Institute as well as the Operational Excellence and Infrastructure Trailblazer awards from The TBM Council and Outstanding Contributions to the Data Center Industry award from Data Center Dynamics.

In his personal time he gives back by building schools and dorms providing access to education for impoverished children through his Mother and Son Just Let Me Learn Foundation. He also enjoys spending time with his wife and performing with his daughter.

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Matt Boon Senior Research Director
As Senior Research Director at ADAPT, Matt Boon is responsible for directing and developing ADAPTs research content and positions. In his role... More

As Senior Research Director at ADAPT, Matt Boon is responsible for directing and developing ADAPTs research content and positions.

In his role at ADAPT Boon advises C-Suite executives across the end-user and technology provider landscape. Boon is also responsible for bringing together groups of C-Suite leaders to discuss and prepare for the myriad of challenges and opportunities they face.

ADAPT hosts numerous industry-leading IT-focused events annually and Boon is responsible for hosting, chairing and delivering ADAPT independent content and positions to help attendees make informed IT decisions.

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