One-On-One With Lee Kestler

With over 25 years of experience working with hyperscale and enterprise customers, Kestler is a data center industry veteran who deeply understands how to set strategic priorities that drive profitability and growth.

Prior to joining EdgeCore, Kestler served as Chief Commercial Officer of Vantage Data Centers, where he was focused on marketing, invigorating sales, and expanding into new US and European markets. Additionally, he served as Senior Vice President of Sales and Leasing for wholesale data center pioneer, DuPont Fabros Technology, and played a key role in both the market strategy within North America and raising 740 million USD at the company’s IPO in 2007. In 2015, he founded Virginia-based Kopend Ventures, where he focused on management consulting and led the creation and adoption of Florida Data Center Sales & Use Tax Exemption by the Florida legislature in 2017. In 2021—2022, he was Executive Director at NextEra Energy Resources, DCRBN Ventures in Juno Beach, Florida. Kestler has been active on a pro bono basis with several early-stage companies and served as an advisor to Innovations Crossroads, an Oak Ridge National Labs incubator program with a focus on business development.

Kestler is a long-term advocate of low-carbon and advanced energy generation solutions and has been active in digital infrastructure leadership forums throughout North America. Kestler was the 2020 Northern Virginia Technology Council “Industry Icon Award” winner.

You have played a pivotal role in the trajectory of the data center industry and the way IT infrastructure has adapted to support major technological milestones like the .com boom and cloud computing. How do you compare that shift to the impact of AI / ML technology on the data center industry? 

I think the easiest way to put it is that our industry continues to be a great place to work. While its evolution has changed a lot since the boom of the late 90’s, it just continues to get so much bigger for different reasons. Back then, Internet access was ISP and Search engine based with the likes of AOL, Yahoo, etc. Mobile technology, in particular smart phones and tablets were not a thing yet. In 2024, sophisticated mobile devices and WiFi networks have created a petri dish for development of new and more advanced applications. The ferocious demand for digital infrastructure to deliver these services (video, mapping, financial & medical information services, target-based advertising, and simply text-based communication) has magnified the benefits to the global economy. The improvements that we’ve developed in energy efficiency, the computational capabilities of today’s machines and networks are enabling the deployment of advanced computing such as AI/ML that require much larger real estate footprints. The pivot from the primitive image of the past to the enormous complexity of the cloud is dramatic and best described as computational density.

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