State of the Industry: Be Prepared, The Data Center Is Getting Smarter15 min read

by | Feb 20, 2019 | Blog

Latest Findings from the 2019 AFCOM State of the Data Center Report

You may have heard quite a bit about cognitive systems, AI, machine learning, and advanced data analytics. What might come as more of a surprise is that these types of systems are now impacting the data center and even data center operations. In our latest AFCOM State of the Data Center report, we asked respondents to share their take on things like big data and AI in the data center. They certainly didn’t disappoint.

Let’s pause here for a second and look at the overall market. There’s really no doubt that we live in a data-driven society. And, this data isn’t at all benign. It can help us gain competitive advantages, improve services, and most of all – help people do great things with technology. In a constantly connected world, data is the new ‘oil’ of our generation. This flood of data has set forth a new array of technologies like machine learning, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence – all designed to transform data from simple pieces of our lives into cognitive components. Ultimately, helping us make better decisions, stay more competitive, and impact strategic direction. Recently, IDC estimates that the amount of the global datasphere subject to data analysis will grow by a factor of 50 to 5.2ZB by 2025; the amount of analyzed data that is “touched” by cognitive systems will grow by a factor of 100 to 1.4ZB by 2025!

From that perspective, leveraging data means not only the need to support new data center initiatives, but to also help the business become a part of the digital revolution. 

The good news is, many are ready to take that leap.

In our latest study, we asked what data center leaders were doing when it came to leveraging new and innovative solutions. Remember, these solutions are aimed at improving data center efficiency while still delivering new capabilities to the customer. We found four solutions are leading the charge with Data Analytics and Big Data as the top two. In fact, 70% of respondents indicated that they’re either already leveraging data analytics or will be doing so over the course of the next 12 months. Nearly 60% said they’re already using big data solutions now, or will be over the next year. The other two major initiatives revolved around Machine Learning (46%) and AI (42%).

Almost all of these categories saw a jump from last year’s study:

  • Data Analytics: 70% (up from 66% in 2018)
  • Big Data: 60% (down from 62% in 2018)
  • Machine Learning: 46% (up from 33% in 2018)
  • AI: 42% (up from 29% in 2018)

Some of the biggest increases revolve around advanced cognitive systems like Machine Learning and AI within the data center. And, to support new initiatives around data analytics, AI, and machine learning, data center leaders are adapting their environments. 27% stated that they’ll be deploying some type of HPC solution and another 39% stated that they’ll be using some type of converged architecture (HCI or CI) as a part of the strategy.

From there, we asked our survey-takers their thoughts on how all of this will impact data center operations. Most respondents believe new technologies will impact the data center, especially with regard to machine learning, data-driven solutions and AI (85%). How will these cognitive and data-driven solutions be used? Improving efficiency, helping to make better decisions around technology and the business, and deeper integration into core data center management systems to improve resiliency, cost management, and uptime.

Within data center walls, leveraging data for things like proactive DCIM and environmental controls is absolutely in the mix as well. For example, controlling airflow with intelligent vents that only open over a certain rack if they detect fluctuations. Or, optimizing the delivery of airflow to data center segments based on the workload operating.

The point is that our data centers are getting smarter, more automated, and ever-more connected. The goal here is to support some of the most advanced workloads in our market and impact the industry in amazing ways. As you take this in, be sure to embrace this digital future. It’ll help you compete in a digitally-native market were data is one of the key drivers of business.

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman

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.

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