This piece was originally published as the president’s column in the July 2016 issue of electroindustry.
Kevin J. Cosgriff, President & CEO, NEMA
This month we’re introducing a new look to electroindustry magazine—a fresher, more modern manifestation of NEMA’s future-focused initiatives. What better timing than this issue on data centers, one of the most forward-leaning industries in which our members are engaged. Customers—from large corporations to individual consumers—increasingly rely on data centers for everything from industrial inventories to movie binges.
Data centers are, quite simply, the physical manifestation of the cloud. Just as countless droplets of water make up a meteorological cloud, so too do hundreds of thousands of components make up the physical structures that warehouse the information we now expect to have at our fingertips. Bits and bytes may lack mass, but the equipment that enlivens and sustains them physically exists in what we now recognize as data centers.
It may seem as though these centers became ubiquitous overnight, but they have been in the works since the 1970s, when early computers relied on mainframes. Studies suggest that more than 90 percent of global internet users are already on the cloud, and many don’t even realize it. As further proof of its overwhelming presence, we need only look at computer engineering. Once the hottest career path, it may soon be overtaken by data science.
How does this relate to our industry? In addition to manufacturing the equipment used in data centers, NEMA members build the physical structures—everything from high-efficiency transformers and advanced lighting and controls to switchgear and energy storage. They are all increasingly integrated with the cloud either directly or as part of a connected system.
Cloud solutions also rely on interconnectivity and shared resources, much like the electric grid. Products and devices by different manufacturers must work together, according to standardized protocols. These connected systems render cities smarter, medical imaging more extensive, and electrical power distribution more reliable.
The resulting Internet of Things is materializing in real time, with the electroindustry as both its indispensable foundation and an active participant at the product and system levels. As you read this month’s issue, I suspect you will see the future unfold with opportunities for companies of all sizes.