Modern technologies are bringing new systems, like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, into our monitoring and control systems. This convergence of technologies and systems is allowing users to better analyze equipment performance, and even predict potential equipment problems. AI can offer predictive analytics helping to optimize and automate facility operations, such as the temperature setpoints of an individual data hall, resulting in energy savings across the board. This added level of monitoring and user notification will improve the Data Center Operator’s informational flow, as they analyze their critical systems. Some companies are looking to robots for some of the more simple and repetitive tasks (think MOP/SOP and general maintenance tasks), reducing the workload on the less technical responsibilities, and better focusing the Facility Manager on critical functions.

As operational information for Data Centers becomes more available, intuitive, and predictive, the approach for managing the health of these facilities is evolving. In future articles of this multi-part series, we will explore how the growing trend to use AI could influence the way we design and build in the future.  It was not long ago when daily rounds were required to check on the facility infrastructure equipment for status and alarms. Some equipment required operators to take and record current readings, and then manually trend the conditions to properly understand the present operating baseline. This is still the case in many circumstances, yet critical facilities continue to migrate towards advanced equipment integration with their BMS, EPMS, or even DCIM. These tools have been capable of providing more in terms of real-time information for both the operator and other relevant stakeholders.

Data Centers recruit and hire staff to meet certain requirements, some for Tier III or IV certification. As the Pandemic has (temporarily or otherwise) changed business in 2020, these staffing requirements have been adjusted, and this adjustment has forced us to reconsider the ‘where’ of our facility personnel.   Whether you find this astonishing or not, those data centers have continued to operate and function as well as before, if not better. Through the availability of new technologies and systems, as well as the changing world around us, we have become more reliant on and accepting of the technology, and the ability to still see what is going on at the facilities, from afar.

While the term “lights out” Data Center implies that no facility staff is onsite, what it really means is less foot traffic on a regular basis inside your critical facility. The facility operators can oversee the day to day operations and stay on top of planning and coordinating site activities while now working remotely. While on-call service and maintenance representatives are still used in emergency situations, the vast majority of the day-to-day needs can be handled with little to no physical human presence on site.

While the adaptation of lights-out data centers are on the horizon, are you ready to start adapting to these changes at your facility for staffing and oversight? Are you ready for more efficiently operated facilities with better predictive equipment analysis? As we dive deeper into AI and Machine learning in upcoming articles you may soon realize that this technology is already being integrated with many aspects of our daily lives. We are living in a more connected world with an ever-changing possibility to use advanced technology to our advantage. We will continue to be presented with a wide array of data center technologies and converging technology options that are intended to improve many aspects of our short- and long-term operations, but not all work out as desired. Do you think this converging technology will take off like many speculate or do you think the days of 7×24 onsite facilities staff will continue?