RALEIGH – Large tech companies such as Facebook, Google, and Apple that buy megawatts of data monthly have dedicated teams that map the data center marketplace. They know the cost of power, of labor, geographic risk factors.
When they negotiate deals, they come in and say, “This is what we need from you, this is what we want, this is what we will pay, take it or leave it,” says Sean Patrick Tario, CEO of Raleigh-based Open Spectrum. Observing that led Tario to see an opportunity. “I can bring that same value to the 99.9 percent of the rest of customers in the marketplace who do not have that team in house.”
So that’s what he did in creating Open Spectrum, which works with independent data center buyers and sellers and investors, provides education, training, strategy consulting, contract negotiations, market reports, coaching and information in the data center industry. It answers questions such as “What’s the best data center market for my infrastructure? Which hosted infrastructure is right for my applications? How do my contracts compare to current market rates?
The company, which began operations in 2011 and has worked with 200 clients, is adding employees every quarter and plans to move to new office space in January. “We’re hiring people across the country and here as well,” said Tario in an interview with WRAL Techwire. Eventually, the five employee firm hopes to open offices nationally.
Infant industry will expand exponentially
The increasing speed of computers and mobile devices, the increasing bandwidth used by phones, streaming media, and cloud services, means, Tario said, “Independent data center providers can’t build them fast enough. “People are storing more and more data every day,” Tario said. Increasing network capacities mean companies can do far more with the application side of their operations, as well.
“Those of us who are analysts in the market see the industry as an infant that will grow exponentially over the next few decades.”
Phone companies, which have worked from Central Offices to route network traffic, started selling data center co-location space as the footprint they needed shrank as routers got smaller. Their equipment tended to be older, so many are now moving into co-location environments with data center owner-operators.
And, Tario notes, “The advent and growth of cloud computing has been a complete game changer for all industries,” though there has been some pushback on cloud use due to security concerns.
Tario said the company, founded in California near the Bay area and funded by loans from partner business and friends and family, moved to Raleigh in 2016.
A recent deal with Microcorp , the oldest national distributor of telecommunications services, has been a boon to his business and is part of the reason for its growth, he said.
Tario, born and raised in Chicago, moved to California after college and remained there for quite a while. But now married with three children, he said, “We got tired of the traffic, the weather and the cost of living. We wanted a new place for our family and business.” While he looked in Oregon, Texas, Colorado, and Charlotte, NC, Raleigh rose to the top of the charts. Not only for its obvious advantages in terms of quality of life and cost of living, but also because of “The tech environment in Raleigh. People here speak my language on hosting and related infrastructure,” he said.
North Carolina is home to both independent data center owner operators and large tech company centers as well.
Tario is deeply interested in economic development work, which he said “Is a passion of mine.” He’s on the board at Innovate Raleigh, is part of the North Carolina District Export Council, and works as a mentor with the North Carolina State University Entrepreneurial Clinic, among others.
He also does an I love data centers podcast.