A leading technology executive in global digital infrastructure, Dean Nelson is the founder and chairman of Infrastructure Masons. Dean led the Metal team at Uber responsible for the Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS) technical infrastructure serving Uber’s global ridesharing business. Prior, Dean worked at eBay as VP Global Foundation Services. He started his career at Sun Microsystems where he worked for 17 years.
Over his 30-year career, Dean has driven USD 10B in infrastructure projects, producing award-winning innovations in mission-critical facilities and compute environments. He holds four U.S. patents and created the Digital Service Efficiency methodology (DSE). He currently serves as CEO at Cato.
How can telecommunications technologies help humanity?
By signing up to the iMasons Climate Accord. This groundbreaking initiative—the largest for our industry—was established to unite companies in the digital infrastructure industry on measuring carbon in materials, products, and power. It aims to shorten the timeframe to achieve carbon neutrality as a first step toward net zero.
Pledging to this open standard of operation is an important step in moving the digital infrastructure toward more responsible and more proactive sustainability. It helps hold the industry accountable by putting transparency and traceability at the forefront of every decision that involves embodied or operating carbon.
How can corporations and researchers best serve the next generation?
One of the most important efforts the iMasons community undertook was creating the digital infrastructure sustainability vision, Every Click Improves the Future, that launched on Earth Day 2020. We believe that digital infrastructure should contribute to the economy and society without harming the planet. Over the past two years, our members have focused on moving toward that vision, which led to the creation of the iMasons Climate Accord. We are fighting to change the trajectory of sustainability for the future and the next generation.
To further maximize our impact on our strategic objectives, iMasons also created the Digital Infrastructure Futures Foundation (DIFF) with the mission to accelerate the adoption and use of digital infrastructure by increasing education and access opportunities for underrepresented communities. DIFF also supports the iMasons scholarship program and includes initiatives to address the digital divide.
Is it important for companies to continue to innovate their organization or offerings, and why?
Our industry is growing at a breakneck pace and scale challenges are impacting every player in the digital infrastructure ecosystem. The only sustainable solution is aligned innovation of the network, the hardware, and the data center. Going forward, those who don’t adapt in an agile manner and innovate are going to lose out.
The current level of digital infrastructure capacity won’t get us to the next level, nor will the number of data centers. Resource requirements are growing faster due to complexity, but companies need to figure out how to grow without using more resources. That’s the future. The technologies and strategies that get us there are what we’re all going to be investing in.
What value does PTC hold for you/your company?
People need to be at the PTC Annual Conference. It’s where business happens. The back-to-back meetings are critical, and the beauty of PTC is that all the executives, engineers, and leaders who make buying decisions are here. It is the right place to have the right conversations. It’s simply a great event, the content is thought-provoking, and you come away with many epiphanies.
How does PTC fit your company’s goals or career purpose?
iMasons was established to provide infrastructure executives and technical professionals an independent forum to connect, grow, and give back. By bringing these professionals together, they can focus their combined experience and expertise to advance the industry, help develop their fellow members, and empower business and personal use of the infrastructure to better the economy, the environment, and society. The iMasons vision is to Unite the Builders of the Digital Age by enabling our global membership to connect, grow, and give back. Organizations like PTC and iMasons both play critical roles in the industry to connect and collaborate.
What advice would you share with current and future graduates interested in this field?
We’re in the best industry in the world building the digital engines that power the globe. It’s growing exponentially and we have the honor of building and enabling the infrastructure for the Internet of everything.
There isn’t a single part of the world where digital infrastructure isn’t present in some form. As it continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, our industry is becoming increasingly critical and visible. Around 40% of the planet still isn’t on the Internet. Just think about that for a second. There is so much more to do as we start connecting the unconnected. Get involved!
What industry mogul or up-and-coming leader have you followed or are currently pursuing, and why?
It’s hard not to be intrigued and follow what Elon Musk is doing. Whether you like him or not, he’s revered as one of today’s greatest innovators and is often in the headlines.
I’m particularly interested in the future role of satellite communications and the SpaceX company that Musk founded 20 years ago. The SpaceX-manufactured and operated Starlink satellite Internet constellation has over 3,000 small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) today and is helping to keep Ukraine connected during their current war. It provides Internet access coverage and is aiming for global mobile phone service sometime next year. Satellite networking will traverse the earth quickly, and opportunities that things like edge-computing offloading and network-slicing techniques may offer and how they could mitigate congestion in data centers is very interesting.
About Infrastructure Masons
Infrastructure Masons (iMasons), a non-profit professional association, was established to provide infrastructure executives and technical professionals an independent forum to connect, grow, and give back. iMasons aggregates and amplifies the work of members and partners across four priorities—enhancing education opportunities, championing diversity and inclusion, promoting innovation and technical excellence, and inspiring sustainability.
iMasons has assembled the iMasons Climate Accord (ICA), a cooperative of 200+ companies devoted to decarbonizing data center power by reducing carbon in digital infrastructure materials, products, and energy. ICA includes hyperscale companies AWS, Google, Meta, Microsoft, and 60+ colocation data center providers and investment firms.