The modern world has become totally dependent on data and immediate access to it. Personal and business lives come to a screeching halt whenever digital connections are lost. That’s what makes a data center and interconnection solution provider such as CoreSite so essential to the function and success of its network, cloud, enterprise and digital content, and IT service provider customers.
The dependence on secure, reliable, and real-time access to data is also what makes Anthony Hatzenbuehler, CoreSite’s vice president of field operations (which includes facilities and telecom), the perfect man for the job. Hatzenbuehler came to the company after being trained by the US Navy in power production and electricity, as well as nuclear power. He served on the USS Carl Vincent, acted as an instructor at the Nuclear Power Training Unit, and then served on the USS George Washington.
The military not only taught him the basics of power generation, cooling equipment, backup systems, and maintenance practices, but also how to operate in mission-critical environments where infrastructure failure simply isn’t an option.
“In the corporate setting, just seconds of downtime can have a significant negative effect on a company,” Hatzenbuehler says. “So I have never felt that providing service to customers who depend on the Internet and connectivity is a lower-level mission compared to my responsibilities in the military.”
When he first joined CoreSite in 2009, Hatzenbuehler was part of a team that had a primary responsibility of improving uptime. This was accomplished through upgrading plant designs and redundancies, as well as implementing new processes and strategies that increased automation and protected against human error. Training was also strengthened to improve efficiencies among the remaining human components in the operational processes.
All of these efforts proved successful. Although the goal (and industry standard) has been five-nines (99.999 percent uptime), CoreSite has operated at a six-nine level (99.9999 percent) in the past five years across its more than 2.8 million square feet of facility space nationwide. This difference results in only 31.5 seconds of downtime annually as opposed to nearly 5.5 minutes annually—or nearly 10 times more downtime per day.
“Customers don’t always know the effort that goes into maintaining such a high level of reliability, and they shouldn’t need to,” Hatzenbuehler says. “But they do know they can focus exclusively on their business without having to worry about how, or whether, the data center will stay up and running.”
The field operations team also contributed to improving cycle times—the window required to implement new features, capacity, or capabilities to a customers’ service portfolio. Since 2013, annualized average cycle time for delivery of CoreSite’s standard power product improved by 17 percent. Cross connections delivery was also improved by 27 percent during the same period.
“In addition to being able to address customer needs quickly, we go through extensive quality measures to ensure the power and space we provide meet the highest standards to support their business strategies,” Hatzenbuehler says.
Leading by Example
Since assuming his current role last year, Hatzenbuehler has worked hard to meet the challenges of remote management and leadership throughout the company’s 19 data centers. He found success through transitioning from the navy’s core values of honor, courage, and commitment to CoreSite’s values: simple, honest, and strong. He also engages and empowers his team through leveraging members’ inherent strengths and talents.
Hatzenbuehler relies on the expertise of team members who are closest to plant operations and to customers, so he makes every effort to ensure they have opportunities both to speak and be heard as part of evolving solutions.
“Even though I might be offsite, after being up with a team to all hours of the night to successfully address an issue, they know I’m willing to get in the trenches with them and get my boots dirty,” he says. “That goes a long way to building trust and respect and a team that’s willing to give 100 percent every time.”
With regard to best practices, Hatzenbuehler again points to his team, reiterating the importance of having the best qualified people, providing them with extensive training, the necessary tools to succeed, and establishing rigorous safety programs to protect their well-being. He says that although the team is allowed operational autonomy, he does monitor their performance.
“I learned in the military: inspect what you expect,” he says.
Hatzenbuehler says he wants to continue CoreSite’s veteran hiring initiatives. Even though a substantial portion of his staff is already ex-military (primarily from the navy’s nuclear power program), he plans to help make the pipeline as robust as possible in order to standardize onboarding and training practices.
“I was given a tremendous opportunity to translate my technical expertise into a corporate career and to become a senior leader,” he says. “I would really like to honor those who have invested in me by developing other premier data center operators.”
Those that follow Hatzenbuehler would do well to also follow his examples of humility and commitment. Or, as he puts it, “There is no ceiling to excellence.”