How the Metaverse Will Live in Your Data Center19 min read
I wrote an article recently on the AFCOM Data Center World home page. I’m lucky enough to be the host and MC of the event for those who don’t know! I’m also leading a DCIM workshop that will actually focus on metaverse, management, and your data center ecosystem. But we’ll get there in a minute.
Emerging concepts around the metaverse all generally revolve around the Fourth Industrial Revolution that we are actively experiencing. Let’s briefly define what that means. According to the World Economic Forum, the speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. Compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is evolving exponentially rather than linear.
If this is the first time you’re hearing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, you are not alone. From the World Economic Forum, they represent the Fourth Industrial revolution as follows:
The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now the Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
We’re seeing this fusion of technologies with new solutions around augmented and virtual reality, autonomous systems, and the early emergence of the metaverse.
Moreover, unlike the previous three revolutions, society must leverage the fourth industrial revolution to sustainably rebalance the global ecosphere to address the environmental legacies of the revolutions before. So, why is it so exciting to be in the data center space? Because public cloud and data center colocation is at the center of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. If anything, it’s the engine that helps drive it. And take a wild guess where the metaverse is going to love. Right. The data center.
OK, now let’s zero in on the metaverse and your digital infrastructure. Merriam-Webster defines the metaverse as “a highly immersive virtual world where people gather to socialize, play and work.” And, as a recent Forbes article states, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, you can think of the metaverse as “an embodied internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at,” which he believes “is going to be the successor to the mobile internet.” The metaverse could offer near-life experiences in online meetings, social media interactions with friends and family, medical consultations, shopping and trying on clothes, or attending “live” concerts.
However, as the Forbes article clarifies, the metaverse will also face its challenges. Like blockchain, the lack of interoperability and having different operating systems with different AR/VR devices that are not interoperable will challenge the adoption. In addition, the metaverse requires expensive gadgets and good tech skills to set up. There is also the data privacy issue and trusting Big Tech with even more personal biometric data. The other challenge is evolving digital infrastructure to support more significant amounts of data, density, sustainability, and resiliency.
Let’s explore how the data center might change to support emerging metaverse requirements.
The Data Center and the Metaverse
A leading DCIM workshop at Data Center World 2021 focused on this specifically. You can create a living ‘digital twin’ of an in-production data center for the first time. Beyond presentations and PowerPoints, we showed our attendees how these solutions are a reality today. These were not static images of a virtual data center; instead, they were sensor and data-driven models of actual data center halls.
We take the data center into the metaverse by creating data-driven models of living data centers in digital format. This means our ability to deploy, manage, architect, and support next-generation digital infrastructure facilities will be empowered by augmented and virtual reality solutions, driven by things like digital twin modeling.
The cool part here is that vendors are already making this transition possible. This means that in our world today, data center leaders already have the tools to create digital twin data centers and some of the most advanced management systems for their infrastructure. Inside of the data center, we’ll see some changes too.
- Density. Stay with me on this one for a minute. I recently spoke with an editor writing an article on data center sizing. Initially, this article was about square footage alone. After a lengthy discussion about the needs of a data center and what we’re being tasked with supporting today, that conversation quickly shifted from square footage alone to power, cooling, and overall data center density. The latest AFCOM State of the Data Center report indicates that the average rack density sits at about 7kW per rack. To be quite honest, that number will need to go up. Leading hyperscale data centers are already working with much higher density numbers. For example, my company, Switch, delivers upwards of 55kW per rack using 100% heat containment technologies and advanced management. We’re not alone either. Emerging solutions allow leaders in the data center space to build with more density to support more capacity. This will be a crucial factor to consider as more organizations leverage data center solutions to house even more digital content.
How do you become denser? Here are some tips. Leverage new software solutions that show you where you can improve operations. Review existing architecture and see where you’re still supporting legacy designs. Work with partners that have already achieved greater levels of density. Don’t wait on this to get started!
- Resiliency. We are more connected than ever before, which means that our systems must remain up whenever possible. There are two types of resiliency factors to consider. First, creating infrastructure resiliency is essential to maintain operations. Next is workload resiliency. This means ensuring that critical workloads are load-balanced correctly and can be distributed between edge and data center locations. Working with new predictive and prescriptive tools allows you to catch issues before they become serious problems potentially.
- Sustainability. The metaverse needs to be sustainable. I’m excited to see new and emerging solutions that are impacting the way we design data centers. Want to see some of the coolest and most innovative solutions that will be used to power future data centers? Check out my blog from Upsite. I write about nuclear-powered data centers, tidal turbines, floating solar panels, and much more.
- Connectivity. Look. We’re already talking about 6G technologies to support future connectivity demands. Controlling latency and ensuring persistent connectivity will be the lifeblood of the metaverse. Without a good connectivity architecture, the metaverse will simply not work. We see new advancements are link aggregation, SD-WAN, 5G, and edge solutions. Global connectivity speeds are increasing, and new solutions are helping remote areas connect faster. Starlink is a good example of this. With speeds of just under half a gig per second, these technologies bridge the connectivity gap that rural residents and businesses experience.
- Management. As a final point, the way we manage our data centers will also evolve. At Data Center World, I’ll be doing the 3rd edition of the Advanced DCIM Workshop. Instead of talking about crazy advancements that are too far away, we’ll focus on the practical applications of digital twins, AR/VR as management tools in the data center, leverage data to create more predictive capabilities, and how data center visualization will fundamentally change the way we manage edge and distributed platforms. I’m excited to see the future of digital infrastructure management.
It’s been amazing to see just how far our digital infrastructure has come. But the pace of evolution in our digital world is even more evident when we look at some of the things we’re being asked to support. The COVID pandemic cemented our perspective on just how much we need data centers and good connectivity. The next iteration of data centers will be tasked with supporting more connected users accessing very rich content. This means that the way we build and design our data centers will also need to evolve. Personally, I’m excited to see what the future holds. We’re seeing more schools offer degrees and certifications around data center engineering, digital infrastructure, and data center architecture. Here’s a fun example. I’m mentoring the iMasons Capstone program in 2022 and one of my students, totally unprompted, asked me about software-defined power in the data center. This wasn’t something I assigned, and it wasn’t even in the reading material. Instead, this student discussed the need to abstract physical resources into the software layer to manage vastly distributed data center platforms. I think that’s pretty cool, and I’m excited to see that this is how our future is already thinking.
Come hang out with me at Data Center World in Austin if you want to try out some of these cool new tools and DCIM innovations. We’ll pop a VR headset on you and show you the future of managing a data center that’s home to the metaverse. And, if you’re joining us, be sure to use KLEYMAN400 as a promo code to get $400 off the all-access pass!
Real-time monitoring, data-driven optimization.
Immersive software, innovative sensors and expert thermal services to monitor,
manage, and maximize the power and cooling infrastructure for critical
data center environments.
Real-time monitoring, data-driven optimization.
Immersive software, innovative sensors and expert thermal services to monitor, manage, and maximize the power and cooling infrastructure for critical data center environments.
Industry Analyst | Board Advisory Member | Writer/Blogger/Speaker | Contributing Editor | Executive | Millennial
Bill Kleyman is an award-winning data center, cloud, and digital infrastructure leader. He was ranked globally by an Onalytica Study as one of the leading executives in cloud computing and data security. He has spent more than 15 years specializing in the cybersecurity, virtualization, cloud, and data center industry. As an award-winning technologist, his most recent efforts with the Infrastructure Masons were recognized when he received the 2020 IM100 Award and the 2021 iMasons Education Champion Award for his work with numerous HBCUs and for helping diversify the digital infrastructure talent pool.
As an industry analyst, speaker, and author, Bill helps the digital infrastructure teams develop new ways to impact data center design, cloud architecture, security models (both physical and software), and how to work with new and emerging technologies.