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Will Robots Take Over the Data Center? 141

1sockchuck writes "Robotics are beginning to be integrated into data center management, creating the potential for a fully automated, robot-driven data center. What might a robot-controlled 'lights-out' data center look like? The racks will be taller, as robotics systems can reach higher to manage servers. Robotic equipment would be mounted on rails that allow them to find and move hardware. Early examples of this are seen in tape libraries, but the concepts could be applied to other data center equipment. Amazon and Google are said to be among those looking at ways to create a fully automated data center. AOL says it has already built an unmanned data center. Data Center Knowledge looks at the challenges and opportunities in robot-controlled data centers, including how staff roles would evolve."
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Will Robots Take Over the Data Center?

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  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @02:34PM (#43796157) Journal

    I've been in plenty of datacenters, and I don't see where you're getting any benefit with radical redesigns. They aren't exactly designed for human comfort in the first place...

    Lighting? Sure, but motion sensors mean it's only on when someone is in that area. And you'll still need lights, because humans will surely still be going in there to fix the malfunctioning robots, and hiring old coal miners seems excessive.

    Temperature? No, the servers dictate the temperature the datacenter is kept at, while human comfort is completely secondary. The 15C degree air coming out of the floor vents below my KVM doesn't make for a comfortable experience, but nobody cares. Humans in the datacenter are the foreigners, who must adapt themselves, not the other way around. If Google could run their datacenters at 75C degrees, they WOULD do that now, and the humans would be sent in with ice packs strapped to their bodies.

    Height? If a couple more feet of rack height were useful and cheap, I would be happy enough to keep a bit of scaffolding in my datacenter cages. As for the ridiculous heights predicted, it's not going to happen. Racks can't scale-up that easily (they'd need huge thick vertical supports to handle the weight)... and at some point, it's pretty easy to just install another "floor" for those pesky humans to walk on, install air ducts in, and also avoid the need for super-robust racks... and I can't even imagine that crazy air currents that would be happening with 100' of vertical servers pumping out crazy amounts of heat, not to mention problems like CLOUDS forming and potentially raining, INSIDE the building.

    In general, the comparison needs to be made to warehouses... If Amazon/Walmart/etc. had fully-automated warehouses, I'd say automated datacenters would be just around the corner. But they don't... Humans are still very much in the loop, driving around on electrified forklifts or pallet jacks, and doing what the computer tells them to, and when. And if any business could benefit from vertical expansion, quicker response times, and less humans, it's warehousing, but it just doesn't work there, yet. That will be a lot closer to the model for future datacenters, not this pie-in-the-sky nonsense.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears