IM Leadership Summit – May 2017
On May 17, 2017, Infrastructure Masons held a half-day Leadership Summit at Uber in Palo Alto. About 80 Infrastructure Masons attended, a mix of partners and end users.
The agenda included an introduction by iMasons founder Dean Nelson; an update from the education committee by Winston Saunders; an introduction to Open19 by Yuval Bachar; a panel discussion with Dean Nelson, Christian Belady, and Joe Kava; a workshop in which participants discussed IM Fund investments and funding sources; and a presentation by Jim Grice of the National Data Center Coalition.
Introduction by iMasons founder Dean Nelson
- Two things came out of the last iMasons leadership meeting: 1) “We need to make the data center sexy. We have a brand problem; people don’t know we exist even though everyone uses the data center.” 2) “We have a talent problem. People don’t find it an interesting industry because they don’t know it exists, and they don’t know how much money they can make.”
- “Infrastructure Masons’ goal is to be 100% member driven. That’s why we’re going to start charging dues. But we have to give value. ‘Connect, grow, and give back’ is our compelling value proposition.”
- “We are working on the Data Center Performance Index (DCPI). A number of us end users need such a standard so we know what we’re getting when we procure data centers.”
- “Other areas we’re working on include the IM Fund, education committee, and developing a sponsorship committee to avoid conflicts of interest.”
Update from the education committee by Winston Saunders
The Infrastructure Masons education committee met before the Leadership Summit. Winston shared the outcomes of the meeting with the larger group gathered for the Summit. The committee meeting was structured into five categories; the committee was able to deeply discuss the first three:
- Local engagement with universities. “We want to see local iMasons chapters engage with their local universities. ‘Engagement’ can mean meeting with students, leveraging existing organizations like 7×24, Society of Women Engineers, Tau Beta Pi, etc.”
- Meeting iMasons’ development/education needs. Winston said, “I did an informal survey and found that iMasons have lots of different skills. This is a profession of many individual disciplines. As you migrate up in the mason stack (c-level) you need skills from all disciplines which are typically self-taught or learned on the job (e.g., sustainability, cost modeling).”
- Diversity in the talent pipeline. “The conclusion here is early engagement; the learning is that if you wait until a person is in college you’ve missed the train. So we have a recommendation to get iMasons out into the community doing partnerships with organizations like Open Up Resources (Larry Singer) and other organizations already engaging with local schools so we can participate with them. That also increases the visibility of iMasons overall.”
There were two other categories on the education committee’s agenda, but they weren’t discussed during the committee meeting: increasing vocational and trade skills; and mentorship.
Introduction to Open19 by Yuval Bachar
Yuval Bachar, principal engineer at LinkedIn and president of Open19 Foundation, shared the history behind Open19, explained what it is and its benefits, and answered questions from fellow iMasons. Infrastructure Masons members can request a copy of the transcript of Yuval’s presentation from firstname.lastname@example.org. Other resources include http://www.open19.org/project/ and Open19 Launches With Vision for Open Hardware at the Edge.
Dean Nelson, Christian Belady, and Joe Kava had an informal discussion session that covered scale, capacity planning, changes in application profiles, hyperscale on public cloud, modularity, edge, people, the role of iMasons, and had a Q&A session. Infrastructure Masons members can request a copy of the transcript from email@example.com.
IM Fund workshop
Anoop Grover, who leads IM Fund activity, gave an introduction to IM Fund, explaining its three primary foci: 1) Giving back; 2) Governance structure; and 3) Benefits realization. He explained that 15% of Infrastructure Masons income gets put into the fund. To date more than $100,000 has been raised. “That will increase so we want to put forth the right structure. We need to figure out where logically to invest.”
Each roundtable of Leadership Summit attendees was asked to discuss two questions: 1) What investments should IM Fund make? Ideas include training, certifications, and scholarships. 2) How do you see us increasing the fund? A summary of responses follows:
What investments should IM Fund make?
- “We’re pretty passionate about the fact that iMasons should build an iMasons university – a branded, recognized program that could develop the next generation of digital economy thinkers.” “As part of iMasons university, create impact courses – make those free to get people hooked early.”
- Public/private partnerships with universities. “Partner with trade/technical programs.”
- “Fund to help train teachers in high schools and maybe even earlier.”
- “Capstone projects – put the challenge out to schools and then have teachers get engaged.”
- “Funding internships at corporations.”
- “Create an iMasons incubator to facilitate the ideas and creativity that is the future.” “Investing in companies VC or incubator style. But if you follow the incubator model do you take a stake?” Provide seed funding.
- “Develop an iMasons challenge like X challenge and put it out to schools. Those with the best ideas, we fund.”
- “Make scholarships self-sustaining – meaning, pick up a candidate who’s bright and invest in their education until that person joins the workforce and then have an agreement that he/she will do the same with one person. So it perpetuates.”
- “To get kids at the middle school level, have people go speak to schools, give presentations. Even more importantly, reach out to teachers directly and expose them to the industry and what goes on the data center.” “Even encourage tours in elementary school to find people who would work in the data center industry.” “College is too late to get talent; we need to get people earlier.” “Partner with an existing group like Project Lead the Way.” “Do a one hour session and data center tour to take high school and/or college students and show them what the data center really is.”
- “We have to have PR and awareness that goes into telling our story better. Maybe working with local media better – local talent has to see this work.”
- “Develop a video game that ties into the data center. That could be an educational resource or a revenue piece.” “Because all kids have a smartphone, develop an app that shows where bits go when you click on your smartphone. That educates people on where things live.” “Create a VR enabled data center video and/or app so people can solve problems in the data center, figure out what went wrong, etc.”
- “Data center apprentice tours, and give out swag – to propagate data center coolness.”
- “Is there a group lobbying that would be of our mutual interest rather than fragmented companies lobbying?”
- “Sponsoring vets to help with the transition back to civilian life.”
- “Build our own little data center that we’d using for testing, etc.”
- “Create a service guru for mentors to do aggregate resource sharing.”
How do you see us increasing the fund?
- “Hire a grant writer to apply for grants on IM’s behalf.”
- “Charitable giving from members in 2 forms: 1) donation of salary or consulting fees [or speaking fees]; and/or 2) donation of time.” “Data center consulting engagements.”
- “To invest in novel ideas about infrastructure and data centers, scout for ideas in the infrastructure space and invest equity.”
- “Licensing fees for training content to organizations like CNET and/or universities.”
- “iMasons Academy + iMasons Certified Professional certification to show that the person has attained a level of proficiency.”
- “Charitable events (since another part of the mission is to connect).”
- “Partnering with other non-profits where it ties into their mission, e.g., org. If you look at our mission around giving back there are other good nonprofits like water.org that have money but not access to the engineering expertise in iMasons.”
- “Encourage competitions for giving to the IM Fund.”
- Paid data center camps like summer code camps hosted at Google or Microsoft.
- Corporate sponsorships aligned with values.
- Crowdfunding – put it out there we’re trying to raise money to fund scholarships.
- “Round Up for iMasons.”
Full details of the discussion are available to Infrastructure Masons members (see “Get More” below).
Presentation by Jim Grice of the National Data Center Coalition
- “There is a need in the data center industry for an initiative to come up with best practices for the industry to gain better awareness and management of one of the elements of TCO – that is, taxes.”
- “We measure a data center’s ‘burden’ on the community as result of the development. The data center is misunderstood because it’s a low burden, not like a warehouse distribution facility or manufacturing facility. So maybe best practices include a process to calculate the net burden and then help educate the community on what it means to bring a data center in.”
Detailed notes from the session are available in the iMasons’ collaboration system. If you attended a Local Edition session, you should have an account. If you have trouble accessing your collaboration account, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our next Local Meet Up is scheduled for Thursday, September 28th from 1-6pm in Dallas, Texas. Learn more and register here.
Event attendance is limited to iMasons members. If you’re not already a member, learn the benefits of joining at https://imasons.org/join/.