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Data Center Management

Machine learning could unlock the power of 'self-driving' data centres

For Ben Treynor Sloss, Google's VP of engineering, the data centre of the future will not only benefit from the use of machine learning, but will be run by AI. Sloss pointed to the significant cost savings gleaned from Google’s own DeepMind machine learning system which was instrumental in running the technology giant’s data centre in 2016. The DeepMind system was able to significantly improve the power efficiency of the data centre by adjusting how servers were run and the operation of power and cooling equipment. Energy reductions reached 40% and if similar systems were rolled out across all Google's data centres globally, it could add up to a saving of tens of millions of dollars each year.

For Alex Robbio, co-founder and president of Belatrix Software, the potential for the application of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence is about more than just power management. Robbio has long nurtured an interest in neural networks and machine learning and within Belatrix he has created a research group to examine the application of different AI and machine learning frameworks for customer programmes. As much as 95% of Belatrix’s 500-odd engineers end up working at some kind of data centre for the company’s customers, and so the application of machine learning solutions in these environments is of particular interest.

Robbio can imagine a scenario where, like the promise of self-driving cars, we will have self-driving data centres that are operating self-driving computers that are operating self-driving software. He says that while Google’s use of DeepMind to optimise power management is exciting, there are many other applications of machine learning and AI in the data centre environment that we are going to see soon.

High performance computing and machine learning could be a double-edged sword for datacentres. What will AI mean to the traditional datacentre?

Artia Moghbel, head of operations and director of communications at DFINITY Networks, says that AI is already currently being used in data centres to reduce cost of operation by identifying inefficiencies and opportunities for cost savings, particular in relation to data centre operation variables such as cooling fans, windows, and so on.

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Bianca Wright

Bianca Wright is a UK-based freelance business and technology writer, who has written for publications in the UK, the US, Australia and South Africa. She holds an MPhil in science and technology journalism and a DPhil in Media Studies.

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