Deep Dive: Corey Needles, Managing Director, Ardent Data Centers

Deep Dive: Corey Needles, Managing Director, Ardent Data Centers

We ‘Deep Dive’ with Corey Needles, Managing Director, Ardent Data Centers, who tells us more about life inside and outside the office.

Corey Needles, Managing Director, Ardent Data Centers

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement in the data centre industry?

Having been a part of the data centre industry for the past 25 years, my most memorable achievement has been helping the industry to evolve as a whole, playing a role in the various transitions which it has undergone. I’m particularly excited about this current evolution the industry is entering, resulting from the AI boom. It will dwarf anything that the industry has seen before, and my current position as the Managing Director at Ardent Data Centers, a Northern Data Group company, will allow me to be part of a business which is helping to drive that change.

What first made you think of a career in technology/data centres?

I personally started my career in networking systems and IT but ended up making my way into the data centre industry, in quite a natural transition. What’s more, the 90s were a very exciting time in terms of innovation, characterised by the internet boom. I could quickly envisage what a future career in this industry would look like, and how my skillset could align – I’m glad I stuck with it.

What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?

My ultimate goal as a leader is to empower people through coaching, guidance and team collaboration. When growing up, playing team sports was a huge part of my life and now my daughters all play college sport. As such, our whole family dynamic is centred around competition and teamwork, which teaches the value in having a team that works seamlessly together as a unit. This is something that has stayed with me and is the approach I take to my professional life – everything is about the team and our collective mission. Especially in this industry where the stakes are high. Businesses are spending huge sums of money, and as a result I’m partly responsible for their company’s success and people’s livelihoods. That’s why it’s crucial that my team is really disciplined in how they operate, so that we can deliver the best service possible.

What do you think is the current hot talking point within the data centre space?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been dominating conversations in the data centre space as well as all other sectors, and for good reason. AI is currently the biggest driving force in the data centre industry and is directly impacting its evolution, from data centre design and site selection to the types of infrastructure and scalability plans. 

Our mission to power the Generative AI revolution has begun. Already, we are supporting Taiga Cloud, Northern Data Group’s Cloud service provider, as it utilises Ardent’s purpose built, high-density, next generation data centres and cooling infrastructure to house the latest High-Performance compute chips that are needed provide the necessary compute power. I’m really looking forward to leading Ardent as we continue to support Taiga Cloud in its future benchmarking and development. 

How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?

My career has always been very all-consuming, so it’s important to me that I take time to get out and occasionally get my mind away from everything to reset. I always try to remind myself that whatever is going on will be there when I get back, especially as everything seems clearer when you return after taking a step away. Although, this is a skill I’ve had to learn over the course of my career, and I find it a lot easier now than I used to. One of my favourite ways to do this is playing golf which I’ve always found very therapeutic. If I’m truly focused on playing my best game of golf, my thoughts can’t be elsewhere.

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

Building and upgrading data centres, so that they are fit to power the AI industry and it’s predicted growth rate is huge. AI feels very all-encompassing for the data centre sector at the moment, and with its potential to impact innovation across all sectors, data infrastructure being a focus is perhaps unsurprising. I expect the pace of change to continue exponentially, and so the upgrading of facilities to power AI is a huge area of investment. Many hyperscalers are having to retrofit facilities, so Ardent being one step ahead here is very exciting. Density is driving everything, and we’re at the forefront of this. At a more granular level, investment is focused on adapting the data centre from air-based to liquid-cooling technologies. 

What are the region-specific challenges you encounter in your role?

We’re a global business so the region-specific challenges vary. Ardent has an exciting growth plan, so when looking to expand our data centre portfolio each site brings its own challenges. We have to ensure that the sites are cost-effective and so assess each individually – we always do due-diligence to ensure we meet mission critical environments. Specifically, power connections and climate are two major considerations for us.

What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the coming months?

In this industry, it really feels like change is the only constant. Short-term, my role will be overseeing the construction and infrastructure developments making sure we can source infrastructure and build out our data centre portfolio quickly – going to market as strong as possible. It is mind-blowing how infinite the compute required to meet the demand for AI and High-Performance Computing is, and this trend isn’t going away. I’m excited for the future of our industry and proud to play a part in shaping its continued evolution.

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