Data center management 2020 outlook: Artificial intelligence and automation take center stage

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As we approach a new decade in 2020, we are in the midst of a technology transformation the likes of which the world hasn’t seen before. In the coming year, the main drivers of this transformation will pick up momentum. Expect to see a lot of activity in these areas: artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), infrastructure automation, everything-as-a service models, and green data center growth. Innovation in these areas will lead to a lot of exciting changes in data center management in the next decade.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning — the next evolution

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have evolved significantly, but we are now really starting to see the effects of what intelligent systems can do. In the data center, algorithms that have been built for task automation and predictive maintenance are becoming more refined, allowing administrators to focus less on routine tasks and more on future planning.

As AI and ML algorithms get more refined, their accuracy improves. Already, machines such as intelligent UPSs can alert us when they need a new battery or troubleshooting. Going forward, algorithms will leverage historical data to predict more precisely when something needs maintenance. So, in addition to telling something is about to fail, intelligent systems can minimize the chances of failure thanks to data-driven predictive maintenance models.

Infrastructure automation creating self-healing systems

AI algorithms are setting the stage for full automation of critical infrastructure, be it in the data center, at the edge, or on-premise server rooms. In 2020, we will see real progress in the next step to predictive maintenance — self-healing systems. As algorithms learn from the data they collect, they will make it possible for software, firmware, and hardware to trigger action to fix a problem without human intervention.

Already, smart monitoring and management systems and planning and modeling applications know when to update themselves without human intervention — and automatically schedule the updates for when they are least likely to cause disruption. As these systems become more self-sufficient, they increase operational efficiency, freeing administrators from daily tasks.

Everything-as-a-service models become more common

As-a-service models are now common with hosted and cloud solutions, and in 2020 these models will migrate to infrastructure management. Data centers, edge sites, and other components of hybrid IT environments increasingly will rely on service-based models that cover just about everything, including software, infrastructure equipment, security, and maintenance.

Here’s how it will work: whenever an enterprise needs new software or equipment, it signs a contract with a provider to deliver the solution and maintain it over time, making replacements and troubleshooting as needed. Instead of capital investments up front, customers will pay for the services on a subscription basis. And, while these services will be coming from different sources, organizations increasingly will turn to a single partner to manage the process to avoid adding complexity to multi-vendor management. As a result, this service model frees up IT staff to focus on more value-added activities and gain peace of mind.

Growth of green data centers

Green data centers have been talked about for years, but in 2020 we should expect a serious push for reducing carbon footprints. AI and automation technologies will play a role in sustainability by improving visibility to data and allowing data center mangers to fine tune their energy consumption and reduce their carbon footprint.

Globally, there is much interest in green data centers, which could lead to new sustainability regulations. Even without regulations, more and more organizations are looking to reduce their carbon footprint, partly as a result of pressure from employees who’d rather work for socially responsible companies. The pressure is likely to intensify as millennials make up more of the workforce and push for companies to adopt their values. According to IDC, 83% of technology buyer respondents in a survey about procurement consumption models “have sustainability pledges or program in place,” and 99% either work only with partners that have a commitment to sustainability or give preference to those with such a commitment.

A new decade for data center management

The outlook for 2020 ushers in great news for those responsible for data centers looking to further optimize data center operations while freeing staff up to achieve better work life balance. Technology is enabling smarter, sustainable data center management through automation and better access to data. As we approach the new year, I encourage you to consider how these trends will affect your data center operations — and how you can turn them into an advantage. For more information, visit our data center resource site which offers access to reports, case studies, blog posts, and much more on the innovative technology that can optimize your data center in the next decade.

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