Enterprises around the globe are deploying Augmented Reality (AR) solutions to bring a new level of productivity to a wide range of tasks, says the Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA), a global non-profit dedicated to widespread adoption of interoperable AR systems. The technology is maturing and expanding rapidly, in fact, the AR market is expected to grow from USD 11.14 Billion in 2018 to USD 60.55 Billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 40.29% according to a report by researchers Markets and Markets. AR also has powerful potential for colocation data center service providers.
With easily demonstrable and highly visual benefits, AR is set to play an important role for colocation service providers by joining the dots connecting data center infrastructure management to maintenance and service operations. AR is an established and well accepted technology which has its origins as far back as 1968 when Ivan Sutherland developed the first display system. Today, Schneider Electric is incorporating AR technology into its EcoStruxure for Data Centers architecture and has been showcasing this capability at recent industry events.
Speaking at Datacloud Europe, Romain Gassion, Innovation Leader at Schneider Electric, is enthusiastic about the usefulness of AR in data center environments: “In the field, facilities professionals have to be prepared to solve a wide variety of problems across a wide spectrum of equipment and to do so quickly and completely. AR enables you to enhance the expertise of engineers on-site, using expert help and guided procedures to increase the accuracy of work. This can increase personnel safety while avoiding human error, saving potential disruption and a lot of cost.”
Augmented Reality is a Game Changer for Data Center Maintenance
The use of Augmented Reality in data center service and maintenance fills two urgent needs:
- Ensuring uptime: According to the Uptime Global Data Center survey 2018, almost half of those responding to researchers had experienced a network failure during the last three years. Coming at a time when data centers are becoming more efficient, it represents a large fraction of the whole and a trend which needs to be curbed.
- Dealing with complex architectures and availability of qualified staff: Two primary reasons for the apparent increase in the number of failures have emerged. They include the complexity of hybrid data center architectures and the difficulties in retaining and training qualified staff. In a recent roundtable, representatives from colocation service providers identified issues such as “poaching” of talent by competitors, the challenges of finding people who speak the language of data centers, and the cost of training. These later challenges also appear to be a source of pain even for the internet giants according to Uptime research, despite the salaries and benefits they are able to offer.
Bridging the Colocation Skills Gap
“With AR you can train people before sending them to site,” says Gassion. “They can experiment on the virtual model, make mistakes and see the impact of them, all from the safety of the training room. It means they are better prepared when they go to site. If there is any doubt, they can access a remote operator to gain ‘see-what-I see’ guidance from off-site specialists to ensure the right equipment is getting the correct attention.” When it comes to colocation data center service and maintenance, AR truly is a killer app.
Schneider Electric will formally launch its EcoStruxure™ Virtual Reality Advisor in early 2019. This solution will incorporate powerful modeling functionality, enabling 3D digital twins of facilities to be simply and quickly put together using a smartphone camera.
Digital enhancement provided by AR enables a field operative to look at a virtual rendering of the facility side-by-side with the physical environment, superimposing process steps and data from management software in live workflow situations. Facilities personnel are literally able to see what’s going inside equipment enclosures without opening any doors.
EcoStruxure Virtual Reality Advisor will also enable the user to add points of interest – pieces of equipment which need to be regularly maintained or inspected. Using the app, the operator can build up a picture of the device including its web address, context-specific documentation, live current information, and the equipment log book, which can all be accessed and displayed at any time using the smartphone in his or her pocket.
Watch the Full Interview on AR Benefits for Data Center Maintenance
To further explore the augmented reality applications for data center maintenance, see what Romain Gassion had to say at Datacloud Europe.