The data center facilities management unit of the global real estate services giant CBRE has been working on augmented reality applications for data center technicians and engineers. Romonet, a UK-based software company CBRE acquired earlier this year, may soon supercharge its AR with analytics capabilities that show how much a data center’s various components are costing the operator and how efficiently they’re running.
Today, development efforts behind the AR application are focused on things like taking advantage of engineering expertise of remote staff, Zahl Limbuwala, a Romonet co-founder who is now executive director for the newly created CBRE - Romonet brand, told us.
The idea is to have “the ability to put, for example, a highly skilled chief engineer on the shoulder of an onsite guy when they’re in the middle of a switching exercise (in the form of AR goggles), so you’ve got a second pair of eyes who may be across the other side of the world,” Limbuwala said. “Whether it’s direct instructions or just that second set of experienced eyes.”
Integrating Romonet’s capabilities into the application would add to the AR view a multitude of key data points about a piece of equipment the engineer may be looking at or relevant information about the overall facility.
The 11-year-old software company’s focus has been to present as accurate a picture as possible of a data center’s costs, both in terms of capital investment and operational expenses. A colocation company, for example, can use Romonet’s analytics to predict how much one data center design will cost versus another before it builds the facility; a team operating an existing site can use it to track whether the facility is using energy and water as efficiently as it was designed to; a CFO can get a top-level view of how much the data center in their company’s corporate headquarters is contributing to its total operational expenses.
It’s still early days for CBRE’s data center AR technology, but the company has been showing it to customers at its London offices, Limbuwala said, and some of its clients already use it in their data centers.
The initial use cases for AR and deep analytics in the data center are clear. How exactly CBRE will monetize its investment in technologies like AR and Romonet’s software “needs to be figured out with the business and with the customers, but the use case is obvious,” Limbuwala said.
Limbuwala recently joined us on The Data Center Podcast to talk about CBRE’s post-Romonet deal plans and many other things, including the impact of carbon tax on UK data centers, cost considerations of liquid cooling, and his opinion on the effects Brexit may have on data centers in the UK and the rest of Europe.