Olivier Sanche, My Dear Friend, Adieu

The data center industry has suffered a huge loss this holiday weekend with the passing of Olivier Sanche, head of Apple’s Data Center program. He was an incredibly thoughtful man, a great father and husband, and very sincerely a great friend. As I got off the phone with his brother and wife in France who gave me this devastating news and I could not help but remember my first encounter with Olivier.  At the time he worked for Ebay and we were both invited to speak and debate at an industry event in Las Vegas.  As we sat in a room full of  ‘experts’  to discuss the future of our industry, the conversation quickly turned controversial.  Passions were raised and I found myself standing side by side with this enigmatic French giant on numerous topics.  His passion for the space coupled with his cool logic were items that endeared me greatly to the man.  We were comrades in ideas, and soon became fast friends.

Olivier was the type of person who could light up a room with his mere presence.   It was as if he embraced the entire room in one giant hug even if they were strangers.  He could sit quietly mulling a topic, pensively going through his calculations and explode into the conversation and rigorously debate everyone.  That passion never belied his ability to learn, to adapt, to incorporate new thinking into his persona either.  Through the years we knew each other I saw him forge his ideas through debate, always evolving.   Many people know the public Olivier, the Olivier they saw at press conferences, or speaking engagements, and the like. Some of us, got to know Olivier much better.  The data center industry is small indeed and those of us who have had the pleasure and terror at working in the worlds largest infrastructures know a special kind of bond.   We routinely meet off-hours and have dinner and drinks.   Its a small cadre of names you probably know, or have heard about, joined in the fact that we have all dealt with or are dealing with challenges most data center environments will never see.  In these less formal affairs, company positions melted away, technological challenges came to the fore, and most importantly the real people behind these companies emerge.   In these forums, you could always count on Olivier to be a warm and calming force.   He was incredibly intelligent, and although he might disagree, you could count on him to champion the free discussion of ideas.

It was in those types of forums where I truly met Olivier.   The man who was so dedicated to his family, and the light of his life little Emilie.  His honesty and direct to the point style made it easy to understand where you stood, and where he was coming from.

More information about memorial services and the like will be coming out shortly and they are trying to get the word out to all of his friends.

The world has lost a great mind, Apple has lost a visionary, His family has lost their world, and I have lost a good friend.

Adieu, Dear Olivier, You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Your friend,

Mike Manos

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Rolling Clouds – My Move into the Mobile Cloud

As many of you saw in my last note, I have officially left Digital Realty Trust to address some personal things.   While I get those things in order I am not sitting idling by.   I am extremely happy to announce that I have taken a role at Nokia as their VP of Service Operations.  In this role I will have global responsibility for the strategy, operation and run of infrastructure aspects for Nokia’s new cloud and mobile services platforms.

Its an incredibly exciting role especially when you think of the fact that the number of mobile hand-held’s around the world are increasingly becoming the interface by which people are consuming information.  Whether that be Navigation-based applications or other content related platforms your phone is becoming your gateway to the world. 

I am also very excited by the fact that there are some fierce competitors in this space as well.  Once again I will be donning my armor and doing battle with my friends at Google.   Their Droid platform is definitely interesting and it will be interesting to see how that develops.  I have a great amount of respect for Urs Hoelze and their cloud platform is something I am fairly familiar with .  I will also be doing battle with the folks from Apple (and interestingly my good friend Olivier Sanche).  Apple definitely has the high end hand-held market here in the US, but its experience in Cloud platforms and operations is not very sophisticated just yet.  On some levels I guess I am even competing against the infrastructure and facilities I built out at Microsoft at least as it relates to the mobile world.  Those are some meaty competitors and as you have seen before, I love a good fight.

In my opinion, Nokia has some very interesting characteristics that position it extremely well if not atop the fray in this space.   First there is no arguing about Nokia penetration of hand-held devices across the world.  Especially in markets like India, China, South America, and other emerging Internet-using populations.    Additionally these emerging economies are skipping past ground-based wired technologies to wireless connectivity.   As a result of that, Nokia has an incredible presence already in those markets.   Their OVI platform today already has a significant population of users (measured at least in the 10s of millions) and so scale at the outset is definitely there.    When I think about the challenge that Google has in getting device penetration out there, or Apples high-end (and mostly US) only approach you can see the opportunity.    I am extremely excited to get going.

Hope you will join me for an incredible ride!

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Opinion Polls and the End of Times

I recently had an interesting e-mail exchange with Olivier Sanche the chief DC architect at Apple.  As you probably know this is a very small industry and Olivier and I have enjoyed a long professional working relationship.   He remarked that we are approaching the end of times, as we were both nominated for a Data Center Dream Team in an industry magazine.  I agreed with him wholeheartedly.

We we were referring to the poll being conducted by the Web Hosting Industry Review (WHIR) who is conducting a survey to see who would represent the Industry’s best Data Center Dream Team.  While its a definite honor to be mentioned, it definitely signals the end of times.  :)

To me the phrase “Dream Team” conjures images of people with a long list of accomplishments.   Its a bit strange to think of the Data Center Industry at large as having made significant movement forward.  There has been a tremendous amount of innovation in the last few years, and I do definitely believe we are at the start of something truly revolutionary in our industry, I think its probably way to early in our steps forward to start defining success like this.  

For those of you interested the poll is located below.  Please keep in mind that you cannot see the results without actually taking the poll itself.

http://www.thewhir.com/Poll/vote

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