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What can data centers learn from the New England Patriots?

Jan 29, 20184 mins
Data Center

3 ways the NFL and data centers have more in common than you may think.

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When February rolls around each year, every football fan knows what’s right around the corner – it’s time for the Super Bowl! This game brings together the two best teams in the National Football League to compete for the title, with all 32 teams battling throughout the year to earn that top spot. Believe it or not, this same competition is very similar to the data center industry.

In fact, the NFL and data centers have many similarities. From the fundamental skills needed to be successful, to the strong team-centric leadership required and the same competition always at the top of their league or industry, below are a few examples of how the NFL and data centers have more in common than you may think.

1. To be successful and work effectively, you need someone at the helm who can call the right routes and plays – much like a Super Bowl winning coach or all-star data center manager.

Championship winning NFL teams all have one thing in common: they are led by great coaches like Bill Belichick who has led the New England Patriots to eight appearances and five Super Bowl wins (so far) or the legendary Vince Lombardi who led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL Championships and two Super Bowl wins. This same strategic guidance applies to data centers as well. Every effective data center is managed by an all-star data center manager who oversees the IT department, determines the best game plan for that improves efficiency and performance, and calls a time out when any red flags come up. As data center environments become increasingly complex with the integration of advances solutions like machine learning, cloud, virtual systems, and much more, the need for a head coach, a la data center manager, that leads the team to accomplish its goals is critical. Whether it be a high-stress situation or keeping day-to-day operations at bay, a data center manager – much like the head coach – is the real MVP of any winning team.

2. Much like the cloud industry where AWS and Azure always top the charts, the same NFL teams always lead the pack heading into the playoffs – no matter the year or competition.

When we reach the NFL playoffs, there are a few teams who always seem to be there every year like the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers or Green Bay Packers. The same can be said for cloud providers like AWS and Azure who always top the leaderboard which makes a big impact on the success of data center environments – this is especially true as 60 percent of organization cite they will house their IT systems off-premise the next two years, according to 451 Research. While there will always be disruptions in the industry like the current shift to new cloud environments or a new enterprise entering the space, just like an underdog team that makes their way to the coveted Super Bowl one thing is certain: there will always be the select few (like the Patriots once again this year) who have paved their path to being a top contender each and every year.

3. Every team – NFL and IT department alike – set a game plan in motion to meet high expectations and effectively handle daily situations while trying to reach their ‘touchdown’ moment.

There’s no doubt managing a career in the NFL makes for a busy schedule. Whether it means going to a daily training, playing in a game, or watching film during downtime, you can be sure that Tom Brady spends almost every minute of the day living and breathing football to some degree.

This same mentality fuels how data centers are run and managed on a daily basis because there are many factors that play into successful operations. From managing a 24/7 operation, making sure the data center is healthy, planning for unforeseen circumstances, or being the eyes and ears between the IT department and C-suite, all these responsibilities fall on the data center manager and team.

While it might not be making calls, and executing the right plays to move the ball down the field to catch the game winning touchdown, having its own playbook that ensures a data center is running properly and effectively is a ‘touchdown’ for any company.

So, remember, when huddled around the TV watching the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles battle it out for the Lombardi trophy this Super Bowl, all the hard work that goes into making a Super Bowl-winning team also goes into creating a successful data center operation. Whether it be thanking your data center ‘coach’ or tapping the largest cloud provider to implement a mixed data center environment, you can easily make your data center trophy-worthy in 2018.


As general manager of Intel Data Center Solutions, Jeff Klaus leads a global team that designs, builds, sells and supports Data Center software products through an extensive distribution network. Since joining Intel in 2000, Klaus built and maintains the largest global distribution ecosystem of middleware solutions through Server Hardware OEMs, Software Infrastructure Management Providers and Cloud Service Providers.

As a leader in the Data Center infrastructure industry, his group currently sells Intel Virtual Gateway access management and Intel Data Center Manager (DCM), the only software that provides real-time, server-level telemetry data and power management across a wide range of data center servers and IT devices.

An active member within the software defined solutions space, Klaus serves on the Board of Directors for the Green IT Council and has presented multiple keynotes at leading industry conferences, including Gartner Data Center, AFCOM's Data Center World, the Green IT Symposium and the Green Gov Conference. As a thought leader within the DCIM community Klaus regularly contributes articles on key data center topics and trends in Forbes, DataCenter Dynamics, Mission Critical, Data Center Post, IT Business Edge, Data Center Knowledge, Information Management and Data Centre Management.

Klaus earned his BS in Finance at Boston College and his MBA in Marketing at Boston University.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Jeff Klaus and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.