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There is no question that next-gen technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are having a massive impact on enterprises globally. Consider, for instance, that by 2022, companies are expected to have an average of 35 AI projects in place, and 86% of CEOs say AI is mainstream technology used in their companies today.

Data centers also are being significantly impacted by these technologies, from both external and internal applications. As global enterprises increasingly utilize such technology, demand for data centers increases exponentially, as well. In fact, the data center market, which currently is valued at about $32 billion, is expected to grow to $59 billion by 2025.

According to Bluebird Network’s Todd Murren, General Manager of Bluebird Network Underground, he is seeing more managed service providers installing bare metal servers to host applications, particularly for artificial intelligence.  “These customers are running GPU’s, graphics processing units, which are typically found in gaming machines,” he says.  These types of processing units “require massive amounts of power and produce tremendous amounts of heat…that can have a substantial impact on data centers,” Murren added.

And, these technologies also are being used by data center operators to impact data center management, productivity and infrastructure, including energy optimization, identifying defects and predicting equipment failures and even staffing.

In fact, almost 80% of data center managers say AI will be used in their facilities to manage staffing levels – and 34% of those say it will happen by 2025. That’s not surprising considering that AI has the potential to impact data center operations in four key ways:

  • Power management: Such solutions optimize heating and cooling systems, which can cut electricity costs, reduce headcount and improve efficiency
  • Equipment management: Technology is used to monitor the health of servers, storage and networking gear to ensure they’re properly configured and predict when equipment is about to fail
  • Workload management: Solutions can move workloads to the most efficient infrastructure in real time
  • Security: By learning what normal network traffic looks like, solutions can spot anomalies, prioritize alerts, help with post-incident analysis and provide recommendations to improve security

Cool applications

One of the most promising applications for AI in data centers is on cooling systems, something one member of the Independent Data Center Alliance already is tackling. The data center cooling market is expected to grow from $9.4 billion in 2020 to more than $15 billion by 2025, driven largely by the fact that cooling accounts for a considerable portion of the total energy consumption in data centers, as well as increasing pressures to reduce carbon emissions and improve sustainability.  

Such are the driving factors behind a partnership between data center owner/operator maincubes and Asperitas, a global immersion cooling scaleup. The two companies have created Immersion Cooling Solutions from dedicated immersion cooling colocation suites in the maincubes Amsterdam AMS01 data center.

The dedicated immersion cooling colocation suites give enterprise organizations, cloud service providers and telecom providers a fully aligned data center suite for unique cooling technology. Immersion cooling is especially ideal for high-density compute applications like high-performance computing (HPC) and machine learning requirements.

AMS01 is also home to the European Open Compute Project (OCP) Experience Center, a demo and testing facility that is pioneering the development of intelligent technologies and state-of-the-art hardware. Through the OCP Experience Center, data center operators can try out new concepts and hardware technologies for a particular efficient infrastructure in order to prepare themselves for the future.   

Automation gains ground

Data center automation is another key technology that’s impacting data center operations, as the routine workflows and processes of a data center — things like scheduling, monitoring, maintenance and application delivery — are managed and executed without human administration. The data center automation market is expected to grow from $7.3 billion in 2019 to more than $19 billion by 2025, driven by the fact that automation increases agility and operational efficiency, while also reducing the time it takes to perform routine tasks. Moreover, automation enables users to deliver services on demand in a repeatable, automated manner. 

Companies like NYI are automating interconnection to make connectivity seamless in the markets they serve, Chicago and New York, “With network demands rising from digital transformation, IoT, AI and other edge applications, we’re happy to be able to help people easily and cost-effectively connect domestically and internationally,” said Phil Koblence, COO of NYI.  

Furthermore, data center automation can benefit both IT and line-of-business functions by automating and orchestrating tasks and processes across all functions and teams. The three areas of greatest impact for automation in the data center are:

  • Server automation: Data centers can standardize, consolidate and automate server operations, reducing risks and improving efficiency.
  • Database and middleware automation: Daily administrative tasks used to manage middleware and databases can be automated, improving efficiency, improving adherence to standards and driving best practices.
  • Compliance: Automation ensures that compliance unifies policy management across all business services.

Automation is important also to data center operator DataGryd, especially during the pandemic, when it was difficult for personnel to physically tend to the needs in the data center. By utilizing remote management, DataGryd was able to leverage automation to monitor its facility, ensuring temperatures remained within acceptable parameters.

With the changing landscape and increased reliance on data centers, speaking with experts to help you make the best decision for your business, is our specialty.  To learn more about the Independent Data Center Alliance and how our members are implementing next-gen technologies to improve operations, get in touch today.