As Cumulus Data’s Chief Data Center Officer, Kevin Dalton leads design and construction of its data centers. He has over 30 years of experience developing 1,000 megawatts of global data center capacity (USD 10B capex).
Dalton is an expert in leveraging supply chain optimization and modular prefabricated construction techniques to drive rapid growth, improve quality, and speed to market. Throughout his career, he has set the standard for next-generation data center designs and led multiple successful sustainability initiatives.
Prior to joining Cumulus Data, he served as SVP of design and construction for NTT Global Data Centers and spent 12 years at Digital Realty in technical and senior management roles.
What technology breakthrough would pave the way for the ICT industry?
The advancements 5G has already brought to the industry have been game-changing, but the evolution into 6G will take us to another level. 5G has literally helped us cut ties with hard-wired connections that bring challenges with gaining permits for rights of way and easements. The use of cell towers has made things easier and more accessible with reduced latency. But if 5G is the minor leagues then 6G is the big leagues. 6G will bring even lower latency, and it will significantly advance technologies that will affect smart cities, augmented reality, virtual reality, machine-to-machine communication in IoT, and more. It’s going to be fascinating to watch this progression into the next iteration of technology.
If one thing should be redeveloped within the telecom and related industries, what should it be?
The need for data center services and the roadblocks in place to develop the infrastructure they require don’t align. Regulations, while needed, are struggling to support the timely development of needed infrastructure to address the ever-growing requirements of businesses and consumers who utilize technology, and we’re seeing the repercussions of that. What transpired in Ashburn, Virginia this year is a perfect example. Data center operators are at risk of not having power to run their facilities not due to lack of power generation capabilities, but because of the inability to get power from one point to another. Working with local officials and national and state legislators and regulators to strike a balance between the need for reliable storage and transfer of data and the electric infrastructure required to support the digital needs, will help us advance in a thoughtful, sustainable, and efficient way.
What network-related development will have the greatest impact in our industry?
As the need for more digital infrastructure grows, the industry has to do a better job of meeting needs in a more sustainable way. The rapid advancement of technology has driven demand for data center services. However, industry leaders have struggled with solving what we call the energy trilemma: the rapidly increasing consumer demand for electricity that is (1) zero-carbon, (2) low cost, and (3) reliable. At Cumulus Data, we are providing a solution. Our flagship data center campus in northeast Pennsylvania will be powered by a direct connection to the adjacent Susquehanna nuclear power plant, delivering zero-carbon, low cost, and reliable power to its data center facilities. With nuclear being carbon-free and the most reliable source of electricity, we believe we’re taking a big step toward truly advancing sustainability in the industry.
What value does PTC hold for you/your company?
The value PTC provides can’t be measured. As an up-and-coming company in the industry, it provides us with direct access to industry leaders through its Annual Conference. Having all the right people in one place makes it extremely easy to meet with customers and others who want to learn more about what we’re pioneering here at Cumulus Data. Beyond our activities, the ability to network with others and understand what’s going on in different parts of the market is very useful.
How does PTC fit your company’s goals or career purpose?
Our stated mission is to lead the clean energy digital infrastructure transition and solve the trilemma: the rapidly increasing consumer demand for electricity that is (1) zero-carbon, (2) low cost, and (3) reliable. While our team is extremely experienced in the respective power and data center fields, we recognize that pairing nuclear power and data centers is a newer concept. The ability to share our message with the right industry leaders, as well as learn from their achievements, is vital to our ongoing success. I welcome the opportunity to network with and learn from the right people within the PTC Community.
What advice would you share with current and future graduates interested in this field?
My advice would be to learn as much as possible about the data center industry. As consumers of technology, we are all exposed to the industry, yet few of us understand how it works. It has been one of the fastest-growing industries over the last 30 years and offers a variety of career paths. The industry remains resilient, weathering market turmoil and economic downturns as the adoption of technology continues to skyrocket, and can provide a number of attractive opportunities for students and recent graduates.
What industry mogul or up-and-coming leader have you followed or are currently pursuing, and why?
Elon Musk has been an interesting individual to follow. Now the richest man in the world, his vision and leadership at Tesla and SpaceX have helped the United States remain the innovation capital of the world. His formation of SpaceX has advanced space exploration in the U.S., and his drive to keep innovating and exploring through initiatives like traveling to Mars will help us remain a world leader in this area. Musk’s actions as a visionary, motivator, and independent thinker who isn’t willing to retreat in the face of adversity or challenges from his peers or the media, is one I follow with interest.
About Cumulus Data
Cumulus Data, a division of Talen Energy, is solving the energy “trilemma,” the convergence between the growing demand for digital infrastructure with global ESG mandates and consumer preferences for zero-carbon, low cost, and reliable electricity. It is developing a 475-megawatt data center campus in northeast PA which will be directly powered by >1 GW of ultra-reliable, zero-carbon, 24/7 nuclear power generated at Talen’s adjacent Susquehanna plant. With an industry-leading TCO and one of the lowest all-in power costs in the U.S., the campus’ first 48-megawatt data center is expected to be commercially available in early 2023.