Thought leaders across the IT infrastructure ecosystem gather each spring in Monaco for Datacloud Congress, which officially provides a forum where ideas are exchanged and connections are made.
Unofficially, Datacloud is the annual gathering where industry’s top “heavyweights” debate the future of the data center publicly on stage. Then privately, they continue conversations into the evening aboard yachts docked in Monte Carlo Harbor and in restaurants perched high above it.
Schneider Electric’s Kevin Brown kicked off this year’s event with the opening keynote: The Multi-Billion-Dollar Success that Wasn’t: DCIM and the Evolution of Data Center Management, which was thought provoking, reflective and predictive. Brown, SVP and CTO for the Secure Power Division, explained how the industry had predicted Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) would be a 3-7 billion euro market a decade ago, but it didn’t materialize. Expectations were inflated and customers experienced complicated set-up and maintenance, not to mention DCIM was difficult to use.
Brown focused on the new hope found in cloud-based DCIM systems where deployment is simple, operation is basic, and data is turned into value through analytics and AI. On-prem clouds, if desired, alleviate data privacy concerns. For more specifics, check out this article from ComputerWeekly.com, Schneider Electric CTO claims AI and cloud could give DCIM market new lease of life.
Expert Panel on AI – its value in a hybrid IT world
Brown’s keynote set the stage for a high-level event where I was privileged to host an expert panel on Data Center AI and Cybersecurity. Specifically, the panel was focused on the value that AI brings and how cybersecurity is maintained in a complex hybrid computing environment. The impressive group of panelists included: Frederic Bouchez, Managing Director at Etix Labs; Olivier Micheli, CEO of Data4; Lars Schedin, CEO of EcoDataCenter; and Cyril Voisin, Chief Security Advisor at Microsoft. We discussed how AI is gaining strong momentum in larger data centers and for edge computing applications with major benefits in efficiency and availability. It was also mentioned that AI can be used to help achieve sustainability goals. Everyone agreed tomorrow’s data center architecture will continue to become more complex and our industry will need to leverage IoT, analytics, Machine Learning, and AI. We must also manage cybersecurity because the added complexity and additional sites provide more “windows” for cyber attacks.
While the AI conversation was lively, I was soon on the hot-seat as part of an edge and 5G expert panel called, Opportunities and Bottlenecks (and Overpromising). I couldn’t wait to be on this panel because everywhere I go, people ask me about 5G. I focused on my experience, which is collaborating with 5G visionaries who are planning to deploy 5G edge data centers at scale – thousands and tens of thousands. Some of the 5G challenges we are trying to overcome are physical deployment – tops of buildings, car parks, basements, and more, as well as powering, cooling, and protecting IT and telco equipment from the elements. Deployment at scale will require as much standardization as possible to drive down costs, maintain the highest quality, and provide efficient deployment, troubleshooting, and repair. I echoed Kevin Brown’s keynote when I discussed how a cloud-based management system will be necessary to maintain the desired performance.
The panel also spent quite a bit of time on the business case for 5G and the “killer app” that could drive it. Schneider Electric has participated in a World Economic Forum workgroup for identifying the ‘killer app” for 5G and I believe it will be some sort of immersive technology used in a way that we have not thought of yet. But once we have it, it will be hard to believe we ever lived without it! As you might be able to tell, I thoroughly enjoyed the panel’s exchange of perspectives.
After my experience at this year’s Datacloud, all I can say is that, officially and unofficially, I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.