The idea for a new event focused on data centers began in a café in London. A colleague and I were talking about how business areas we had worked in were changing. We were in fact about to visit a discreet IT facility accessed through an otherwise mundane doorway on a busy street. Behind it lay a well-hidden data center. Having already been involved in establishing what used to be known as the Colocation Summit, the largest of which had been held in San Francisco, and given the fact I was now looking for opportunities with a new company called BroadGroup, this meeting between two experienced data center executives directly led to what became Data Centers Europe (DCE).
That began a long journey where our success was aligned directly with the massive expansion of data centers across Europe and the world. Events were held in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Australia, Malaysia, CEE markets, Ireland and later in India, the U.S. and Africa.
I remember preparing name badges until 2:00 in the morning of the inaugural event in Covent Garden London. This was a matter of some stress because we had no real idea of who would turn up, least of all the speakers. On the morning of the first DCE, our opening keynote speaker failed to appear, so we moved on with a respectable audience of around 140. He arrived mid-morning having apparently, as he described it to the audience, been playing mah-jong until 3:00 that morning. It appeared we had all not experienced much sleep.
Over the next few years we developed and expanded the event which now included an awards ceremony, and as a mature product it became obvious there was a need to innovate dramatically to extend its life cycle. So we moved first to Sophia Antipolis, followed by a couple of years in Nice and finally, changing the brand to Datacloud, the event came home to Monaco where it has resided for the past five years attracting more than 2,000 senior executives. We also launched the innovative Data Economy online and print news and information service and we now have three conference brands – Datacloud, Edge and Finvest.
But change continues, and with more than 50 countries attending, and the U.S. now the third largest group of delegates, it became evident the flagship event had shifted again. As a result, we announced the first Datacloud Global Congress would take place in Monaco in 2019. The Awards too are global – and although yet to be announced, the extended panel of 30 judges will be reviewing the highest number of nominations yet received, particularly from Asia and North America.
The product itself changed too and content has extended to cover not only data centers, but cloud, Edge, IT transformation for enterprises, connectivity and fiber, and the advent and projected impact of 5G. The presence of enterprise infrastructure executives and hyperscalers has become a critical feature now reflected in the event audience profile. We have fortunately formed a great relationship with an inspiring organization, the Infrastructure Masons, born in the U.S. and now expanding globally and includes leaders from innovators in many exciting enterprise segments.
Looking back, what has been the worst part of this journey? Probably more difficult times during the great recession – and as people who typically innovate and move fast, a massively frustrating period for all of us in this industry. Apart from that, things moved quickly enough for challenges to be overcome, mistakes to be made but learned from, and frankly a great deal of fun to be had with a team that has evolved to become the best I have ever worked with. All remarkable in their own way, each has contributed to create the fantastic company we have today.
So today we look forward to the sixth annual Monaco event with more than 170 speakers across three theatres, 120 exhibitors, 2,000 attendees, the inaugural Finvest for investors in all these businesses, a new Edge Forum, and a new China Forum with speakers from key mainland players. More enterprises and hyperscalers will be there than ever before, with probably the largest gathering of investors and financiers in the data center and related sectors, including an Enterprise Lounge, and an array of content from edge to liquid cooling topped off with a spectacular Awards ceremony.
We have also arrived home in another way, and are now part of a larger family as a member company of Euromoney, which is among the largest global media and event companies with a portfolio of more than 400 events worldwide.
I hope that perhaps one day I will look back and think that we served a good purpose and provided the sort of forum needed over these past years across the many markets in which we have been engaged, that enabled businesses to do more business. In these digital times, I believe anyway that personal networking still has its own magic.