That is what we could be asking by 2012, and be answered with a resounding cry of to the job centre looking for new employment if Fujitsu Siemens Computers is correct with its prediction. FSC today suggested that within just four years unmanned data centres will not only be fully commercially operational but will also outnumber the manned data centres that we have at the moment. It also warned that this will have a profound skills impact upon the IT sector, leading to a potential skills surplus in IT across the UK and Europe.
Sure, these ‘lights out’ data centres are not unknown today and there are a number running here in the UK that I know about. By lights out I mean those which have operational management carried out either remotely or automatically. However technology strategists at Fujitsu Siemens Computers predict that this is just the start of a growing trend and foresee an increased level of automation in the not too distant future.
Dave Pritchard, senior technology strategist, Fujitsu Siemens Computers explains: “Tomorrow’s data centre will resemble more of a “one man and a dog” set-up - the dog is there for security and the man is there to feed the dog. Many factors are already at work to bring an incredible level of automation and remote control to the data centre and these factors will only accelerate. Firstly, companies are realising that simplicity in a data centre means that it can be run remotely. As the traditional three-tier architecture decreases and moves towards a virtualised, pooled architecture, the need for huge numbers of servers decreases. Consequently so does the need for personnel to manage and monitor them, especially on site. Secondly, data centres are growing in processing power and some of this will be used to enable the data centre to control and manage itself, moving from remote control to automatic control. Analysis, configuration and optimisation, all tasks that need personnel to be present, will gradually become part of the software and systems, removing the need for people on site.”
Fujitsu Siemens Computers warned that this would have profound effects upon the skills sets required of today’s data centre professionals. Pritchard concludes: “It is hard to gauge exactly how many people would be affected by such developments. Data centre managers, infrastructure managers, engineers, analysts and technicians would all be impacted. IT staff are no strangers to change, but these developments bring change right into the heart of the IT department. Automatic, unmanned data centres will become the norm in many cases, and that will mean those staff who would be based in the centre, tasked with on-site delivery must have their role and location re-defined.”