Artificial Intelligence in the Data Center
The modern data center that we know today, and certainly the one of tomorrow, will be heavily impacted by artificial intelligence, also known as AI. While, for many people, artificial intelligence conjures thoughts of sci-fi movies and theoretical science that we will not have to deal with in our lifetime, anyone in the technology industry knows this is certainly not the case. Artificial intelligence has been around for about 60 years but it is beginning to become much more of a reality in our modern world. This impacts data centers in many ways. It has begun to permeate software development with machine learning and that is something that will only continue to increase.
At its core, artificial intelligence is the collection of information, analysis for patterns/pattern recognition, and then problem solving based on the first two steps – much like the human brain makes a decision. The interesting thing about AI, though, is that while the human brain may have taken centuries to recognize patterns and slowly but surely adapt to make more intelligent decisions and problem solve, AI can typically learn much more rapidly.
Artificial intelligence is becoming a critical component of software development. Right now, it is particularly important when it comes to the testing and debugging phase of software development but as it is used more it will be able to learn behaviors and generate code independently based on what it is learning. The beauty on the front end of AI is that it can ‘think’ and make decisions on its own but that does not mean that the back end of AI is simple. In fact, it is rather complicated, and that is where it impacts data centers.
Artificial Intelligence Impact on Data Center Servers
One of the first areas of impact that artificial intelligence has on data centers is right at the server rack level. Data centers are in an endless pursuit of energy efficiency because it makes it easier to cool server racks which improves efficiency and saves money. Data Center Dynamics points to one area we have already seen artificial intelligence improve energy efficiency at the server rack level in data centers, “So how does AI impact the data center? Well, back in 2014 Google deployed Deepmind AI (using machine learning, an application of AI) in one of their facilities. The result? They were able to consistently achieve a 40 percent reduction in the amount of energy used for cooling, which equated to a 15 percent reduction in overall PUE overhead after accounting for electrical losses and other non-cooling inefficiencies. It also produced the lowest PUE the site had ever seen. Based on these significant savings, Google looked to deploy the technology across their other sites and suggested other companies will do the same.”
Artificial Intelligence and IoT
We are a world that is largely dependent on the fast and easy transmission of data through technology. The Internet of Things, or IoT, becomes more and more pervasive every day. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, we are dependent on connectivity and smart technology. Artificial intelligence is simply the natural extension of this. One simple example is Siri or Alexa. She is intelligent enough to understand what you are asking and quickly and reliably provide a relevant answer. Another example of artificial intelligence at use in our everyday lives in fitness trackers that learn your fitness and activity habits, track them, organize and analyze the data, and then make suggestions for your health. One last example is autonomous driving or self-driving vehicles. This is an exciting advancement but on that does not come without great risk if not executed very well using artificial intelligence that is very capable of making intelligent and safe decisions. While all of these things are great and useful, they naturally come with more, and much larger, data.
AI storage and processing of all the data that comes with the IoT is complex and sizable which means data centers must adapt to accommodate the demand. After all, gathering, analyzing and making predictions based on data is no simple or small task. Artificial intelligence deep learning will dramatically increase the need for enhanced data center storage and processing solutions that are able to handle that amount of data.
The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Data Center Cooling
The demand for efficient and effective data center cooling has always been high but it seems like that only continues to increase as data grows and technology advances. Because of the increase in data processing, there is more hardware and it is working harder than ever before and that hardware must be kept cool to reduce the risk of downtime.
Simultaneously, data centers are working hard to reduce their general resource footprint so how can these two things live together in harmony? Ironically, the same AI that is demanding resources is the same AI that can assist a data center in maximizing energy efficiency while improving data storage and transmission speeds, as we looked at earlier with Google.
Artificial intelligence is able to learn about environmental, electrical and mechanical factors and what happens based on those factors. It can collect all of that data over time and begin changing processes and decisions to maximize efficiency and uptime while minimizing costs.
How Artificial Intelligence Impacts Data Center Management
Data center management is no simple task because technology is constantly changing, what worked yesterday may no longer be the ideal solution, and there is a simultaneous demand for continual uptime while minimizing energy waste and maximizing efficiency. All the tasks could make just about anyone’s head spin.
For data center staff, artificial intelligence can sound like a threat to job security because what happens if artifice ill intelligence is able to leverage their knowledge and become more useful than basic tech support? While the role of tech support may change, intelligent and well-trained staff will always be a critical component of any data center. The shift will be an increased demand for data center technical and managerial staff that is experienced and knowledgeable in implementing, utilizing, and leveraging the power of artificial intelligence for the benefit of the data center resources.
Long-Term Planning for AI in the Data Center
Any time there is new technology that requires new learning/training, equipment, infrastructure, monetary investment, etc., data center staff naturally becomes nervous. It can be a big endeavor to adapt a data center to something as comprehensively pervasive as artificial intelligence. But, while some remain skeptical about just how much it will permeate data centers, most experts agree that artificial intelligence will become intricately enmeshed within data center infrastructure and efficacy. So, rather than hiding your head in the sand, the far better option is to start discussing, learning, and adapting. Data center management and staff can begin anticipating the ways in which artificial intelligence may permeate their unique data center and begin making small adjustments now to accommodate for this change which will help smooth the transition. Artificial intelligence will ultimately improve the efficiency and uptime of data centers, but the transition will take time and careful execution to achieve optimal success.