As it is, the data center industry is already working hard to meet the ever-growing need to provide access to data and connectivity, with global internet traffic surging an astounding 440 percent since 2010.
With the introduction of new technologies such as Edge computing, artificial intelligence, and crypto-mining, however, upholding uptime and operational reliability has become an even more critical undertaking for data center operators.
Based on the 2022 Outage Analysis conducted by the Uptime Institute, over 60 percent of reported data center outages have resulted in financial losses of at least $100,000, with 43 percent of these service interruptions caused by power-related issues.
Prolonged downtimes, or outages that have lasted more than 24 hours, have also increased by 22 percent over the last three years. The same analysis also determined that roughly 40 percent of these major outages were due to human error, particularly employees’ non-compliance with specific policies and procedures.
Data centers of today have changed considerably in size, functionality, and complexity, in response to the massive demand for information.
These alarming statistics indicate that while data centers may have taken steps to reduce downtime and improve resiliency, strategic complementary measures must also be implemented to ensure that outages are reduced, especially as the industry continues to grapple with an ongoing shortage of skilled professionals.
Underscoring the need for regular maintenance
Similar to vehicles that need regular maintenance to ensure that they continue running smoothy, data centers must conduct regular monitoring of their equipment to guarantee the reliable provision of services.
Because data center equipment is heavily and intensively used, they must also be regularly monitored to identify potential inefficiencies that can affect their performance. This is where the need for digitalization comes in.
Intelligent devices facilitate real-time detection and communication of component and system inefficiencies, including environmental aggressors that may affect the health and efficiency of both electrical and IT equipment.
By collecting and providing important data on essential processes, digital solutions empower data center managers to make swift and definitive actions that can prevent potential system failures and safety hazards.
To maintain uptime and optimal operational productivity, it is imperative that operators and managers have comprehensive visibility on system and equipment health and performance. Having access to real-time analytics can mean a world of difference between being able to create contingency measures to avoid service interruptions and significant financial and reputational losses due to outages.
Using technology to improve service and sustainability
In the past, data center operators needed to assign skilled service personnel to perform on-site assessment or repair on their electrical networks and equipment.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, this practice was already deemed inefficient, as it will take time for service engineers to travel to the site to perform monitoring or remedial activities. Thanks to advanced technology, data centers are now able to perform service-related tasks more effectively with the help of augmented reality.
The pandemic has fueled the adoption of augmented reality (AR) among enterprises and consumers, given various government policies that aimed to limit mobility. However, businesses are now leveraging on AR-based technologies to improve customer engagement as well as maximize productivity within the workplace. Similarly, sustainability has become an important consideration for the adoption of AR-based technologies, as it cuts back on the need for transportation to and from facilities.
One of the benefits of using AR-based technologies is its capacity to enhance workflows and processes through 3D visualization, which can be especially helpful in providing extensive visibility, especially for operations as complex as data centers.
Just like how a smartphone or smart glasses can facilitate viewing of immersive content, AR-based tools and applications can help identify and address component or system issues within data centers.
For example, a data center employee experiences difficulties in racking in a circuit breaker. Instead of having a service engineer go to the facility or going through voluminous product manuals, the employee can simply download an app, select the product for which s/he needs support with, and be provided with a simple and precise instruction guide on how to perform the task, saving up on valuable time and resources.
Should the employee require additional assistance, s/he can connect remotely to a service expert who can guide him/her in completing the task by instructing him to focus his mobile device onto the equipment and provide live annotations as further support.
By providing data center employees with accurate service support through AR-based tools, data center service can be achieved in a faster, more efficient, and sustainable manner.
The beauty of AR is that it empowers data center customers to shift from calendar-based to condition-based monitoring, which immediately addresses equipment inefficiencies before they result in breakdowns or failure. Technology has redefined how service-related activities were traditionally performed to empower data centers to take the lead in improving the uptime and reliability of their facilities.
Uptime and reliability remain to be the primary yardstick in defining data center efficiency. These, however, can only be achieved through the use of digital tools and solutions that provide comprehensive visibility and information. In the fast-evolving data center industry, knowing – and doing something with this information – is half the battle.
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