In the Data Center – AI and Connectivity are the Next Big Disruption

AI on the brain? Contributing editor Bill Kleyman breaks down the role ChatGPT and other AI tools will play in the data center.

Bill Kleyman

April 7, 2023

12 Min Read
Image of ChatGPT text on AI style background.
Greg Guy / Alamy Stock Photo

You know AI has gone mainstream when South Park does an entire episode on it. I’m not joking, ChatGPT wrote a part of a very recent South Park episode. And it was pretty amazing.

I’m not kidding when I say that modern machine learning and neural network solutions will be a massive driving force for our industry. Just look at OpenAI and ChatGPT. To put this into perspective, ChatGPT reached one million active users in a matter of 5 days. The meteoric rise to one million active users is the fastest that any app has reached this milestone.

ChatGPT sprints to one million users.

ChatGPT Sprints to One Million Users

However, a single ChatGPT session has so much behind it, and it takes over $15-20/hour to run machines supporting GPT functions. And while these systems do excellent time management, they still run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Let me give you this metric to think about. A single Google search can power a 100w lightbulb for 11 seconds. A single ChatGPT session consumes upwards of 50-100 times more power than a single Google search. That’s a lot of lightbulbs.

However, at the core of our digital world is the heart of this discussion: Data. Let me illustrate the point. A recent Cisco Cloud report indicates that by the year 2023, there will be 5.3 billion global Internet users, 3.6 global devices and connections per capita, and the average global fixed broadband speed will be 110 Mbps. The other critical point is this: Data created is two orders of magnitude higher than data stored.

Related:How ChatGPT Can Help and Hinder Data Center Cybersecurity

This data that's being created isn't benign. It carries precious pieces of information around users, products, services, and even the business. The big question becomes – How do you mine this data and get value out of it?

Before we dive further into the topic – it's very critical to understand, as you read this, that many organizations and partners are already looking at ways to bring AI further into the market. "Intelligent applications based on cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, and deep learning are the next wave of technology transforming how consumers and enterprises work, learn, and play," said David Schubmehl, research director, Cognitive Systems and Content Analytics at IDC. "These applications are being developed and implemented on cognitive/AI software platforms that offer the tools and capabilities to provide predictions, recommendations, and intelligent assistance through the use of cognitive systems, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Cognitive/AI systems are quickly becoming a key part of IT infrastructure, and all enterprises need to understand and plan for the adoption and use of these technologies in their organizations."

Related:Artificial Intelligence Is Booming—So Is Its Carbon Footprint

Here's the big point to understand – Deploying and implementing intelligent systems that learn, adapt, and potentially act autonomously will become the primary battleground for technology vendors and services partners through the next decade at the least. These technologies will specifically replace legacy IT and business processes where functions were executed as predefined instructions. These machines will contextually adapt and help with informed business as well as IT decisions.

That said, do not get complacent around these solutions. Just because ChatGPT might be a foreign concept to you doesn’t mean it won’t impact core data center systems supporting machine learning and data processing. As a data center operator, you must embrace these AI and machine learning solutions. Otherwise, your massive hyperscale and cloud competition will do it for you.

Today, data center leaders are trying to find ways to support their clients doing data models and data training directly within their data center. This helps prevent revenue bleed into the cloud, creates data locality, and improves security and performance.

To that extent – here are some significant AI disruptions to be aware of:

  • Applied Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Think of these technologies as AI platforms that process data and help make decisions way beyond simple, rule-based data processing algorithms. Instead, they can learn, adapt, predict, and – in some cases – operate without any human interaction at al. Applied AI revolves around everything from self-driving cars to consumer electronics. For example, an AI company called IPSoft has an engine called "Amelia," which can be considered your very own digital employee. IPSoft acts as a learning engine that learns your business leverages vital data points and can understand processes. From there, you can deploy Amelia as a cognitive agent capable of taking on the role of a service desk assistant, customer service associate, and even patient entry assistant.

Another applied AI soluion leveraging advanced long-language models (LLM) is, of course, ChatGPT. Earlier, we referenced that ChatGPT reached one million users in 5 days. Well, they rose to 100 million users just two months after they launched. Again, setting all sorts of records along the way in terms of active users and user acquisition. "In 20 years following the internet space, we cannot recall a faster ramp in a consumer internet app," UBS analysts wrote in the note.

Recently, OpenAI announced a $20 monthly subscription, initially for users in the United States only. However, that program has already paused because OpenAI is running out of premium resources.

Please don’t think that these kinds of new applications will pass you by. AI, ML, and ChatGPT will become an active part of your infrastructure.

  • Smart Apps Interacting with Data. What if your apps could help prioritize specific functions for you based on the market conditions, the customer, and even your business? What if, based on a conversation, your app could go back and find the critical tasks which need to be accomplished based on that conversation? Smarter applications will leverage data to help transform the way we conduct day-to-day business. Moving forward, almost every application dealing with data will have a machine learning aspect to it. Again, you will need to think of ways to support these workloads.

  • Intelligence and User Augmentation. AI and smart systems will allow users to "double" up on what they're trying to accomplish. Most of all, we'll be able to integrate with wearable technologies, various business functions and even create an orchestrated flow of information based on particular use-cases. Leveraging AI and machine learning will allow users to function at a much higher level, bringing even more value to their business. This is NOT user replacement… rather, it's augmenting their capabilities and improving all of the processes surrounding their digital work (and home) life. Actually, this level of user augmentation is a big part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. That is, we are actively blurring the lines between physical, digital and biological spheres.

  • AI-Driven Security. This part is cool. AI-driven security architectures will mesh together IoT, virtual technologies, user behavior, cloud analytics, and so much more. There will be a significant need for smarter security systems to merge into a much more complex and interconnected world. These systems will monitor contextual points around users, devices, information flow, and much more to create intelligent security architectures.

I talked about this recently in an article here on DCK. For the first time, we saw physical security rank as the number one priority for DCIM and data center management implementation planning. Moreover, 80% of respondents either have or will be integrating security into DCIM. Leveraging data to support security is a big step to creating a more secure overall digital infrastructure.

"Modernizing data center infrastructure systems (hardware and software) is likely to enable more seamless connectivity and operations, but also the quicker rollout and administration of security policies. As newer data center infrastructure has better automation and alerting systems, it can help operators cope with the chronic staff shortages of the data center industry," adds Galabov. "This also addresses some of the security vulnerabilities caused by human factors. As vendors continue to strive to improve their product's efficiency, the modernization effort will likely result in significant cost reduction through energy efficiency gains."

  • The Living Data Center. Automation within the data center will become a significant function of cognitive systems. Solutions like AI will take a further role in distributed computing, edge ecosystems, cloud, and more. Already, designs around minimally-staffed architectures are supporting edge use-cases. With fewer people, you’ll need smarter solutions. Sensors within the data center can collect more information, manage more assets, and help you make better decisions around efficiency and utilization. Platforms like DCIM are continuously getting smarter with the types of data and sensors they connect to. The recent AFCOM State of the Data Center Report indicated that 77% of respondents foresee more DCIM integration with virtualization and cloud solutions, including 27% who are already seeing it. Furthermore, many see deeper integration with things like IoT, smart sensors, and data-drive data center management.

To Support Massive Data Growth, AI, and the Data Center, 5G Will be Front and Center

Outside of new and emerging edge solutions, 5G is poised to change how we game, work, and enjoy life. For example, innovative startups are finding new ways to leverage 5G connectivity and create diverse new use cases. This includes immersive Multiview eSports streaming to the world's first 5G VR headset.

Beyond really cool wearable 4K live-streaming gear and augmented reality solutions, 5G will significantly impact everyday life and our business world. Consider these use-cases:

  • Industrial IoT, Connected Machinery and Equipment. A recent report from Nokia indicated that over three-quarters (77%) of respondents found the use case of connected equipment and cloud-connected robotics appealing, as they are vital enablers of Industry 4.0.

Responding companies noted that leveraging 5G alongside connected IIOT allows them to "readily visualize the benefits of 5G for real-time monitoring and remote control of machines they can't currently control remotely."

  • More Real-Time Data for Better Decisions. Real-time data plays a critical role within critical infrastructure. So, healthcare, power utility grids, and even governments can access better real-time data to make sometimes life-saving decisions. Other environments like retail and logistics can benefit greatly as well from less latency and faster speeds.

  • Autonomous Vehicles. If you haven't heard, GM plans to exclusively offer electric vehicles by 2035, ending production of its cars, trucks, and SUVs with diesel- and gasoline-powered engines. That's huge because, in automotive years, that's basically tomorrow. According to a Goldman Sachs recent report, fully autonomous cars are being tested on roads today, and the first commercially available semi-autonomous cars could be on the road in the next 1-2 years.

Why is this all-important? The lack of a robust 5G network is one reason why autonomous cars are not a more common sight on the road. With the power of 5G, connectivity needs like remote diagnostics, operating system updates, predictive maintenance, in-car payments, and fleet management will become a reality.

  • Smart City Applications. Already, cities worldwide are testing out 5G capabilities to allow them to run more efficiently and serve the public more effectively. For example, Virgin Trains has been testing out 5G-powered Wi-Fi on its trains. To ensure that their city's trains are 5G-enabled, a new partnership between the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), the fifth busiest public transportation system in the US by passenger numbers, and Mobilitie, the largest privately-held wireless infrastructure firm in the nation happened. IoT sensors that enable Smart Cities could send data more quickly over 5G networks. This can help alert city officials of problems, notify commuters of traffic conditions, or even notify people of open parking spaces. There are so many applications for a 5G connected city that it would require an entire blog on its own to cover the use-cases.

  • Immersive Data-Driven Experiences. In the Nokia report we referenced earlier, 55% of those surveyed addressed the appeal of immersive technologies such as VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). Here's the catch: about half that number are currently making use of these technologies. This is where 5G-led innovations are making a big difference. A recent Ericsson post indicates that 5G will have significant implications on how we leverage immersive experiences. This includes:

    • Hardware

      • Multiplayer AR gaming headsets and handsets

      • 4K live-streaming wearable camera

    • Software

      • AR media and immersive video content apps

      • 3D AR edutainment apps

      • AI-driven 5G live sports event streaming

      • Global edge reflector networks for collaborative apps and games

It's essential to take a look at all of this and know that data and services sit at the heart of 5G and new communications strategies. In fact, a recent ConsumerLab research report showed that the fastest-growing mobile app categories during the COVID-19 period had been linked to remote working, education/e-learning, and wellness. That same report indicated that 6 in 10 US workers still expect to switch to video-based conferences permanently. Similarly, the same amount stated that online healthcare consultations would replace physical visits to the doctor.

Final Thoughts

Data-driven solutions will continue to bring value to users, the services they consume, and how businesses perform various functions. Most of all, it'll revolutionize the way we manage our day-to-day lives. It's important to remember that these systems aren't here to "replace" us.

Instead, if you embrace AI technology right – it'll help you bring so much more value to your job and even your organization. Machine learning and AI systems will help augment functions, make better – well-informed decisions, and focus on growing the business and creating better services. Working with data is already in our present and will be even more prevalent in our future. Take the time to understand where your data plays a role with your business, users, and the solutions you bring to market. AI may very well be in your future to help you break out of a legacy shell and transform into a digital entity.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

Subscribe to the Data Center Knowledge Newsletter
Get analysis and expert insight on the latest in data center business and technology delivered to your inbox daily.

You May Also Like