Robots may run data centers, someday

Will the 'data center of everything' be too much for humans to handle?

"Data center robotics automation is going to become a reality sooner than you think."

ASIMO-photo from Honda News Release Site 3
Photo credit: Honda

That's the view of Bill Kleyman, a virtualization and cloud solutions architect, who sees robotics as the inevitable approach to managing and maintaining increasingly complex data centers. In a recent post, he says today's sites are quickly evolving into "the data center of everything," accommodating increasing numbers of users, devices, cloud arrangements, and a lot more data.

Data center automation is now commonplace, and it's only a matter of time before we start seeing robots being employed to do more physical tasks, such as retrieving and replacing servers, blades, or even entire racks, Kleyman says.

Autoloaders for tape libraries have been in existance for quite some time, enabling more rapid access to backup tapes stored away somewhere. It isn't too far of a stretch to pick up on Kleyman's scenario to imagine such robotic functions being applied to servers as well as storage systems.

Kleyman does caution that "server hardware isn't quite ready to be handled by robotics," and the hardware has to be customized. Plus, many data centers still rely on cables, and it's hard to imagine a robot being able to thread and connect cables beneath raised floors or in ceilings. The rise of wireless connectivity could alleviate some of that.

And, there's that classic showstopper for allt hings IT -- cost and ROI. Will purchasing and installing data center robots prove to be of value to the business, or does it merely optimize IT?