Critical Facilities Management

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Leadership Perspectives: 25 Years with Chris Cleghorn

Chris Cleghorn

As Ascent commemorates its 25 years in the data center business, I’m humbled to be part of a team that has steadily grown and evolved to support its customers. Upon reflecting on my 16 years here, one of the key ingredients to our success has become increasingly obvious— it’s listening.

While simple, the fundamental act of listening has allowed Ascent to connect with our customers and innovate effectively with their needs and goals in mind, allowing us to stay ahead of their ever-changing data center requirements. Whether it’s the dawn of early operations innovations like our Navigator Platform or responding to today’s advanced AI-driven design challenges, Ascent has excelled in walking hand in hand with our customers and their pain points, goals and objectives.

When Ascent was founded in 1998, the focus was on providing our customers with operational solutions for their Critical Facilities and Data Centers.  Soon after, through our experience and our customers’ feedback, we recognized the need for better integration between the engineering, design and construction of these facilities in conjunction the on-going Operations.  This led us to bring in and develop our inhouse engineering and construction teams and vertically integrate them with our Operations and Maintenance Services teams.  Now, we can support our customers throughout every step of the mission critical process, from data center design, construction, operations, maintenance and even decommissioning.

Our Navigator Platform evolved and was developed specifically based on customer feedback, identifying a need to support critical infrastructure and facilities. In development, our original goal was to aggregate data centers’ facilities and all their systems – and since inception The Navigator Platform has expanded tenfold past in its initial capabilities. Navigators’ first version combined traditional work order management and maintenance services. We then incorporated maintenance services, vendor management, our 24 x 7 Operations Center and portfolio management features. We now use it to help manage our 24×7 Smart Hands and IT Site Services, and the platform gives our customers real-time visibility and reporting customized to their unique business needs.

Most recently, we have been listening to our customers as they move to support the new requirements of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.  Supported by sophisticated, next generation platforms, AI compute creates minute-by-minute demands on the electrical and mechanical infrastructure of a data center. Our customers need adaptable BMS and controls systems that keep facility managers apprised of power spikes on RPPs and PDUs while dynamically shifting cooling supply.  In addition to these kinds of technical challenges, our customers also need to add power and cooling capacity as quickly as possible. Market demand for AI is driving time-to-market demands on mission-critical contractors, reminiscent of the way the data center market challenged us in the early days of our company.  

As Ascent continues to grow, we will always keep our customers’ ever-evolving needs top of mind. In doing so, we can provide them with value-added strategies, resulting in the utmost efficiency and control. 

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