Leveraging power of machine learning

Thursday April 01 2021
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Over the years, artificial intelligence and machine learning have witnessed significant development and have now become smarter than before. PHOTO | FILE

By Guest Writer

Data centres are the heart of our online world. They store the data and increasingly they host the applications that we use to work, shop, bank and entertain ourselves. 

Given what happened last year, the datacentre market is growing rapidly. According to market research company Gartner, the global data centre market size is poised to hit $200 billion by 2021.

Africa data centre market size is expected to cross $3 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of more than  12 per cent during the forecast period. 

The Africa data centre industry has witnessed a steady interest from major global cloud service providers such as AWS and Microsoft, along with Huawei over the last five years. 

The increasing demand for cloud-based services and modular data center solutions among enterprises, especially in SMEs and government agencies, are expected to drive the market in Africa. 

It is expected that more than 70 per cent of organisations operating in the region will shift to the cloud region by 2025. Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, and Nigeria are at the forefront of improving the digital economy.

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 The datacentre industry is undergoing changes to serve the needs in today’s business landscape.

It comes to no surprise when we hear organisations discuss their plans to enhance their data center infrastructure with technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and focus on automation to improve uptime while controlling costs all of which are important for companies to drive operational efficiency and business resiliency.  

The current pandemic is driving forward-looking companies to become increasingly interested in predictive technology and remote capabilities in data centres.

 The ability for IT department to predict disruptions and unplanned downtime can potentially minimise impact to the business, especially in today’s environment that is riddled with uncertainties. 

According to analyst firm Aberdeen Research, depending on the industry, business interruptions can cost a company as much as $260,000 an hour.    

 AI & machine learning

Over the years, AI and machine learning have witnessed significant development and have now become smarter than before.

 In the case of data centres, algorithms that have been built for task automation and predictive maintenance are becoming more refined, therefore enabling IT departments to focus less on routine tasks and more on future planning.  

Algorithms will leverage historical data to predict more accurately when maintenance is required. Therefore, not only can they alert IT departments that something is about to fail, but these intelligent systems can also minimise the chances of failure thanks to data-driven predictive maintenance models. Proactive insights on critical assets can help IT staff management the health and availability of an IT environment. 

These insights provide them with the ability to deliver actionable real-time recommendations to optimise data centre performance, mitigate risk and ensure uptime. 

In the wake of the pandemic, companies that relied on on-site data centre support staff soon realised they had limited or no visibility into their data centre operations. With cloud-based, next-generation management platform, IT support staff can now manage sites remotely and more importantly, in a much safer manner.  

Better data centre performance

Increasing the intelligence and automation of the physical infrastructure and management systems enable data centres to be more reliable and efficient both in terms of energy use and operations. This also enables the Collection and analysis of data that can lead to better performance with predictive capability.  

There has been a surge in colocation data centre investment in markets such as Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, and Senegal in the past two years. Governments are taking initiatives to increase the share of renewable energy in the electricity generation.

Increased digitisation in African countries, the adoption of cloud-based services, migration from server rooms to managed, colocation, and hybrid infrastructure services are driving the investment in the Africa data centre market.

AI and machine learning will underpin the next generation of what we think of now as data centre infrastructure management. Disruptive technologies like these will integrate people and processes resulting in a true digital data centre. 

As digital transformation progresses, we will see data centre evolve based on real-world experience and are driven by demand for ever higher levels of profitability.

Carol Koeh is the CEO of Schneider Electric that deals with digital transformation of energy management and automation in homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure and industries.

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