How AI will change the data center and IT workforce

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is being unleashed on business processes, data analytics and a host of other business functions, but its role in data center automation will change not just the data center itself, but all of its infrastructure — physical and virtual, to the edge and beyond. .

As with almost anything AI touches, the data center will become leaner, less costly to run and achieve higher performance metrics as the transition progresses, and much of what is done by human operators will be automated – just like what happened in the pre – AI era. Still, experts predict that the shortage of qualified data center operators will continue and could get worse.

AI of all transactions

Obviously, there are many ways AI can be used to automate data center management. Rohan Sheth, of colocation provider Yotta, highlights some of the low-hanging fruit, such as load management, power and resource consumption, and security. Still, he says few organizations are leveraging AI to the fullest, due to a combination of mistrust, lack of skills, and the potential risk of disruption.

Of course, this won’t last forever. Citing research from Gartner, Sheth notes that by the middle of the decade, the transition from big data to small and wide data will be in full swing, and this will put pressure on data centers to become more flexible and cheaper to operate. Rather than simply browsing through extremely large data sets, AI will use smaller amounts of more accurate data that is pulled from multiple sources and stored in multiple formats.

While the trend towards intelligent automation was on the upswing before the pandemic, the sudden lockdowns and the work-from-home culture that emerged in response have kicked the movement into high gear, says tech entrepreneur Don Basile. In 2020/2021, 83% of organizations increased their AI and machine learning (ML) budget. This has already accelerated processing speeds by 30% and brought data bottlenecks to record levels. This is partly why research firms like Mordor Intelligence predict that the data center automation market as a whole will more than double to nearly $20 billion by 2026.

IT job growth

Automation is a scary word for any workforce, and the addition of AI to data center management is a major concern for IT. But according to a recent report from the Uptime Institute, the data center is likely to face ongoing staff shortages, even as AI becomes more prevalent in the management stack. In fact, the demand for human operators will increase from the current 2 million to 2.3 million by 2025, while more than 90% of IT executives expect AI to take on many of the routine, repetitive tasks of data and infrastructure management .

One of the key challenges IT will face is managing data load growth while maintaining consistency and controlling costs, something where AI can help, but not alone.

And while AI is poised to infiltrate many aspects of the data center, the fact remains that much of the physical infrastructure is still not ready for the change. A recent Gartner report noted that much of the mechanical infrastructure still lacks the kind of sensor-enabled monitoring capabilities essential for intelligent control. This means that much of the data center infrastructure management (DCIM) stack will likely remain on a manual basis for a few more years, even as data load and resource usage increase due to the advent of 5G and the IoT connected edge.

All of this points to pretty good prospects for both AI in the data center and IT staff. Continued job shortages are likely to push up salaries, especially for those who have expanded their resumes to include AI skills, as demand for increasingly sophisticated intelligent platforms continues unabated over the next decade or more.

At the same time, data users in the workplace and consumer market should see dramatic improvements in speed, accuracy and overall simplicity once AI takes much of the complexity out of the user interface. And the modern data center itself will be able to do more and consume less, benefiting everyone.

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