Whilst data centers are helping power rapid changes in how we work, live and play around the world, they are not always at the forefront of technology themselves, according to Richard Ungar, Head of Data Center Automation at ABB.

In particular, Ungar believes that there has been an inertia towards a single operations environment, and relays a quote he heard, “that data centers love innovation, as long as it's 20 years old”. Instead he believes that an alternative approach to operating a data center would deliver positive results.

Industry 4.0 allies physical production and operations with smart digital technology, machine learning, and big data to create a more holistic and better connected ecosystem. Convergence is a key tenet of this approach, and Ungar speaking at a session during DCD’s recent Control & Automate event, sees this as important but not always as present as some might expect in the data center world.

“Industry 4.0 is a big technology buzzword right now, particularly when it comes to maximizing productivity. So, where does that leave data centers specifically? They are often referred to as the data factories of the future. So you'd naturally think that they would sit at the pinnacle of that industry 4.0 pyramid, taking advantage of all of the technologies that are being addressed and in leveraging all the standards that have been put together.”

Ungar continued; “But no, not really. In fact, data centers seem to not really be that much aware of all the technologies, standards or innovations that are being done in other industries or how they could be applied to their own operations.”

With 25 years experience in the industry and a clear passion for products, communications and building teams, Ungar is a strong advocate for seeing change in our industry.

“We are looking for a different mindset and a big question at the heart of this is are data centers in the wrong category? I guess what I’m hearing today is a lot of people are thinking that data centers belong more in this industrial space, than in the commercial space. And by making this change, you can take advantage of industrial tech and you can start to break down silos.”

He continues; “With industrial automation, customers take the effectiveness of their operations very seriously. You can control whatever you want. In fact every data center has a fair bit of industrial control already in there, it's just buried within the switchgear or the substations or other systems. So there’s an element of the technology already there. All I’m saying is to take that up a level and use similar technologies across the entire data center, rather than just isolating in particular areas.”

It’s a fascinating insight into a way of thinking about how we plan and operate our data centers and a strong argument for how a system where all your infrastructure is managed through a central location can deliver far better results than when everything is isolated in silos.

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