COVID and the other events of 2020 have had a huge impact on data centers. Traffic has shifted to residential areas with the work from anywhere trend, and overloaded centers are in need of expansion. But that expansion has been slowed by the pandemic, and social distancing and other restrictions.
So what’s next for the post COVID world of 2021? How do data centers plan for the coming vaccine, the impact on their operations and expansion plans? Here are 4 drivers of change you should keep in mind when making your plans.
Jump to Section:
- Work From Anywhere is Here to Stay
- Faster Internet, More Data and 5G
- Remote Monitoring
- Artificial Intelligence Adoption
- What Will Next Year Bring to Data Centers?
Work From Anywhere is Here to Stay
Both businesses and employees have learned that working from anywhere, specifically from home, does not mean a less productive workforce. On the contrary, many people are more productive from home, value not having to commute to an office every day and have adjusted to the new normal.
Companies have discovered thousands in savings from a smaller physical footprint, and those savings are enhanced by benefits to the environment as well. Companies like Twitter and other tech giants have promised employees the option to work from anywhere indefinitely.
While some people remain anxious to return to the office (and will do so as soon as they’ve been vaccinated) many more are more than happy to continue working remotely. Whatever the post COVID workplace looks like, it seems work as we know it has already changed forever.
Faster Internet, More Data and 5G
Regardless of where people work from, the need for faster internet, more data transmission, and the continuing expansion of 5G mean data centers will experience more demand and require more moves and changes than ever before. This is about more than just technology and changing devices. It is also about the physical arrangement of data centers – an area likely to pick up once the vaccine becomes available.
The physical layer of data centers will change post COVID, as devices grow into the Internet of Things (IoT), high performance cables come into common use, and the demand for greener operations is prioritized. Perhaps the most important factor is that data center managers stay in touch with emerging trends and remain nimble, able to adapt when needed.
Monitoring equipment, maintenance, and up time will become even more important – despite the vaccine. Customers have come to expect reliability, and it is no longer optional. However, the additional demand on human technicians to perform moves and changes means that monitoring should be automated whenever possible.
Remote monitoring systems can help do just that, allowing personnel to focus on more pressing tasks. A sensor network can send messages when human attention is needed, and can also monitor physical spaces for unauthorized access, providing an additional layer of physical security.
These monitoring systems continue to advance, and many can even react intelligently to many issues, readjusting HVAC and humidity systems and shifting loads away from problematic devices as needed. Automation creates a number of labor saving opportunities and can even alert human managers to issues before failures can cause service interruptions and additional issues.
Artificial Intelligence Adoption
Even as hardware evolves, cables become more sophisticated, and the physical spaces in data centers changes, software also continues to improve. From simple tasks like monitoring remote sensors and sending alerts, artificial intelligence can do much more.
Think of AI as the brain of the data center. It can monitor hardware, shift server loads as needed and intelligently, learn efficiency and streamline operations, prevent downtime, and even alert human managers as needed when software changes will not solve problems.
Artificial Intelligence can also be used to project future needs, generate expansion plans and ideas, and even develop plans for the physical layer of the data center. From optimal server rack placement to cabling choices to ventilation and HVAC needs, modeling can tell you what will and won’t work ahead of time, and AI can be a big part of that.
Post COVID, artificial intelligence will impact nearly every business going forward, and the increase in the number of enhanced data centers using this technology continues to rise.
What Will Next Year Bring to Data Centers?
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” said the Danish Politician Karl Kristain Steincke in 1948. Nothing much has changed since then. The future is still hard to predict. But there are some things we do know:
- A vaccine or several of them will become available, meaning work as we know it will likely shift again to a more “hybrid” approach – the new normal
- More data will be created, stored and shared than ever before
- Customer expectations for speed and data transmission will continue to rise
- Artificial intelligence will play a larger role in the lives of everyone – especially those in technology driven fields like data centers
Like 2020, next year will be one where many changes will happen. What changes are you making in your data center? What things do you think will be trending into the new year?
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About the Author
Louis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
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