How AI and IoT in the data centre work to optimise your business
With hybrid, hyperscale and decentralised infrastructure on the rise, data centres are increasing in size and complexity.
The role of data centre managers is becoming broader and more complex, too. These days, operators are required to run weightier and more varied workloads than ever before. As such, hardware requirements can vary widely from workload to workload, from day to day, and even hour to hour.
As data centres become more hybrid and workloads are increased, moved, or flexed, it can also be hard to know and keep track of what’s changed. A company’s security team is unlikely to know which virtual machine has just been sped up, or what is running; and while it’s great to have this agility, it comes with a cost: imperfect information.
These trends pose challenges for data centre managers when provisioning hardware for new applications, identifying where there is available power capacity, and facilitating automation to minimise both headcount and downtime.
With more devices and users accessing the network throughout the coronavirus pandemic, data centre managers are also having to work harder than ever before to meet bandwidth and security requirements.
Compounded by the heightened threat landscape, many data centre managers are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to help elevate security and performance.
How can AI and IoT help businesses with these challenges? Let’s take a look.
Enhanced threat mitigation and response
With the added dependency on the internet and interconnected devices in recent months, security incidents such as unauthorised access, phishing, data breaches, social engineering, and denial of service, malware and zero-day attacks have all grown exponentially.
Ten years ago there were fewer than 50 million known malware executables. By 2012, there were 100 million and in 2019 there were a staggering 900 million. By the close of 2020, this figure is expected to jump even higher, with malicious actors taking advantage of remote workforces and under-resourced on-prem data centres. Thankfully, however, AI can help data centre managers stay ahead of these threats in a number of key ways.
Curating intelligence from millions of online sources, AI can gain an advanced knowledge of the threat landscape. It uses these insights to quickly identify relationships between threats, such as suspicious IP addresses, insiders or malicious files, and to detect vulnerabilities.
Behavioural data gathered from AI and IoT devices can also be monitored for consistency. Network or device user behaviour that deviates from the norm can be flagged instantly as a threat.
AI can effectively tell a security team, “here are the workloads we’re seeing and here are the ones with behaviours that are consistent with active attackers”. They can then help score and prioritise these threats – giving the security team more signals, more noise and less ambiguity when protecting their enterprise. These tasks take just seconds or minutes and are, on average, sixty times faster than the threat response times of human beings.
IoT-connected devices can improve security, data flow, storage requirements, and access capabilities – freeing up a data centre manager’s time to focus on more critical tasks.
With little to no supervision, IoT devices can also manage everyday tasks such as updating systems, configuration, patching, and monitoring.
Meanwhile, AI can be used to optimise server storage systems. Virtually anything that produces data can be fed into machine- or deep-learning tools to improve performance. In turn, data centre loads can become more predictable and easier to manage.
With these qualities, AI and IoT-managed data centres could streamline the data centre manager’s role in the future and create significant cost-savings.
Energy (and cost) efficiency
Running a data centre with the help of AI and IoT can also make data centres ‘greener’, helping them find the best setting in real time. Using statistical algorithms and predictive analytics, AI and IoT tools can help manage temperature, ventilation and other environmental factors.
IoT technologies such as, LitBit, can also diagnose problems within the data centre including water leaks and cooling issues.
Technologies like this have already helped Google optimise its servers and cut its energy bill by a staggering 40 per cent. Gathering information from sensors on the server racks, Google’s deep learning AI tool helped to regulate the water pipes and cool its data centre environment.
With high-definition examples such as this, it is hoped that many other businesses will follow suit and embrace AI and IoT technologies within their datacentres.
As outlined above, the benefits of these tools don’t stop at the enterprise level (in terms of security and performance). They extend to the societal level, with meaningful impact on the environment, too.
Not only do AI and IoT create a wealth of data that will require additional storage and compute capabilities over the coming years; these technologies also offer significant benefits in helping data centre managers elevate their server security and performance.