Finding balance in a cloud-based data business world

Charles Meyers believes in balance. So much so that he believes
wholeheartedly in how yoga can make him a better boss at Redwood
City-based Equinix.

“This ability to have time to re-balance myself, and have it
be a stated purpose of that time, not just to work out, but to try
to achieve some level of balance and introspection, I just find
myself to be a better version of myself when I’m doing it,”
Meyers said.

In a recent interview at Equinix’s headquarters, Meyers
discussed not only his penchant for yoga, but for running Equinix,
one of the world’s leaders in providing data centers and the
interconnection points and services companies used to manage and
access their information on the ground, and in cloud environments.
The company has a presence in 52 markets in 24 countries around the
world.

Meyers, who joined Equinix in 2010, had most recently been the
company’s president for strategy, services and innovation (SSI).
He also talked about how he became CEO several months after the
unexpected departure of
former company Chief Executive Steve Smith, who stepped down in
January
.

Meyers’ comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Before we talk about Equinix, is it true that you
were struck by lightning when you were 11 years old?

A: Yes. that’s true. I was living just
outside of Boulder, Colorado, in Broomfield, and playing baseball.
A lightning bolt hit the water tower about a mile away and our
coach said, “Let’s get out of here.” So, everybody else
started rounding up the balls from the field, but I went to my
coach to lobby to pitch the next day. And then, I felt the hair on
the back of my neck stand up, and BAM…Next thing I knew, I woke
up in an ambulance. I spent the night in the hospital for
observation. There was a light burn on my leg, and my eyes were
kind of messed up for a couple of days, but that was it. Nothing
significant, but it gave me a perspective shift in terms of
realizing how fragile life is.

Q: Equinix isn’t the kind of company that the average
person is going to see, or think about on a daily basis. With that
in mind, how would you describe what it is that Equinix specializes
in?

A: The shorthand version for most people is
that we are a global data center provider. We build and operate
large scale data centers around the world that house some of the
most-important digital assets.

But, I don’t think of ourselves as a data center company. I
think of ourselves much more as an interconnection platform. This
notion of interconnecting people, and companies, in a digital world
is really what we do. I like to say that Equinix is evolving to be
the trusted center of a cloud-first world. We were very central to
the “internet era”, in which we became a central part of the
internet’s infrastructure. The majority of internet traffic
traverses an Equinix facility at some point. But, now, in this
cloud world, the nature of digital infrastructure is changing and
becoming far more dependent upon the cloud. And we are now finding
that for many companies, hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments
are their choices for the cloud-based data world.

Q: With that in mind, what is the difference between
hybrid cloud and multi-cloud?

A: Hybrid cloud simply refers to the fact that
people are still utilizing their private infrastructure, but they
are also combining that with public cloud services like AWS (Amazon
Web Services), or Microsoft Azure. You’re using some things like
more traditional IT where you own and operate infrastructure of
your own, but then you tie that into public cloud services. And if
you interface it with a large number of other clouds, that’s
multi-cloud. These days virtually any enterprise of any size is
hybrid and multi-cloud. The reason that we’re so important is
that companies want their infrastructure to be immediately in
proximate to the cloud for reasons of security, compliance and
costs, and we are seen as a trusted adviser to help these companies
accomplish what they want with the cloud.

Q: You’ve been CEO for almost four months now, and you
became CEO under non-traditional circumstances. Do you feel that
created a different approach to coming into the job than you would
have taken otherwise?

A: Well, they were not circumstances I would
have expected, or wanted. Steve’s departure was a difficult time
for the company. But, there was a pretty significant period between
when he stepped aside and I came into the job. We had the luxury of
Peter (Van Camp), the chairman, being in that position to come in
and stabilize things (as interim CEO), and we had a very good plan
for the year that we were set to execute on. (Van Camp had also
been CEO of Equinix from 2000 to 2007.) And I think that gave us
the time to make a transition that was well-thought through and
that people can feel comfortable with. The board went through a
process that was a little longer than I thought it would take. And
I’m very excited that the board selected me to play this
role.

Q: You’ve been with Equinix for several years, and
seem to have a handle on what was needed to bring it through an
unexpected transition.

A: One thing I think was disappointing is that
because of the circumstances of Steve’s departure, inevitably
that provided some sort of a cloud under which people might
question the culture of the company. I felt it was really important
to stress that there is a great culture here. It’s not perfect by
any means, and I’m working on thoughts on how to make it better
because there is a real commonality of purpose of the people who
work here and want to accomplish things together.

We need to continue to make Equinix a place where people feel
safe, believe that they belong, and know that they matter. I hope
to make those hallmarks of my tenure as CEO.

Q: When you aren’t running Equinix, you are big into
yoga, and not just practicing it.

A: My wife introduced me to it about 15 years ago. And we
actually I have a business partner and we franchise and own 31
studios under the name Core Power Yoga. It’s been a great
business.

Charles Meyers:

Job Title: Chief Executive and President,
Equinix
Age: 53
Hometown: Broomfield, Colorado.
Place of Residence: Atlanta, but in the process of
moving full-time to the Bay Area
Family: Married with three daughters and two
granddaughters
Education: Bachelor’s of Science degree in
chemical engineering from the University of Colorado; dual
master’s degrees from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg
Graduate School of Management and McCormick Graduate School of
Engineering

Five Things about Charles Meyers:

  1. He is the youngest of nine children.
  2. He and his wife have six dogs that they “adopted” from
    their adult children.
  3. He has lived in 11 states.
  4. He was struck by lightning when he was 11 years old.
  5. He practices yoga on a daily basis.

Source: FS – All – Interesting – News 2
Finding balance in a cloud-based data business world