What was once viewed as the stuff of science fiction, virtual reality (VR) has seen its impact flourish in the enterprise landscape. Continuous developments and the practical business potentials have pushed VR deeper across a range of industries, including healthcare and automotive. While VR technology ultimately requires constant refinement to match consumer demands, not to mention a network of supporting technologies, data centre operators have begun tapping into the potential that VR can offer data centre sites. VR headsets are being utilised in the planning and construction stages of a site, and subsequently adding a new dimension to the sales process.
Envisioning the data centre
For those who work with complex built environments, VR offers an exciting way to help visualise the different possibilities in the planning and building stages of a site. While architects in constructing buildings have made initial use of the technology, data centre operators will also be able to use the technology in the same manner.
Likewise with buildings, the data centre site represents complicated architectural challenges. Factoring in cooling capacities, power requirements, data halls, and the ability to upgrade a site (if required) all takes a great degree of planning. Especially in the advent of new technologies such as high performance computing (HPC) and even VR itself, data centres are constantly being asked to provide the appropriate infrastructure needed to support them. Unlike the human eye, the power of the VR headset is able to provide a completely new perspective of a site and accurately capture the true essence of a site’s capacities, and what the end result will look like.
This also reinforces VR as an effective future-proofing tool. Data centre operators can get a better understanding of their site and future expenditure by ensuring that potential upgrade demands and costs are factored in at the early stages of planning or purchasing of a site. Additionally, with many data centres being located in major cities – particularly tier-1 – both tile and rent space is considerably high. The capability for data centres to upgrade existing infrastructure demonstrates how VR can better help facility managers assess space (and limitations) in a more accurate manner.
VR technology will allow customers to explore a data centre from all angles, while also offering a sense of reassurance. Virtually touring a facility can help address the concerns of customers who are geographically distant from where their data is stored. The technology enables them to explore these sites in more depth without ever leaving the confines of their office. Overall, this can allow data centre operators to engage a wider range of customers, and also makes it cost affordable for both parties by reducing money spent on travelling to and from sites.
‘Virtual touring’ adds an additional element of security to the data centre as well. Instead of inviting prospective clients to view the physical site, thereby exposing the data storage to contact with an unsecured third party, data centre operators can guide interested parties around the site using VR. This provides them with a rich experience and exposure to additional elements of the site that might not be available during a physical tour, but also ensures security is kept tight by not having unauthorised individuals on site.
Ultimately, the data centre and VR can be seen as mutually advantageous technologies. While the data centre will enable VR to function seamlessly by harbouring the necessary infrastructure – and therefore facilitate its rise as a mainstream proposition – VR also has much to offer for the data centre. The ability to visualise and future-proof a site are all key assets for data centre operators, but additionally, VR technology will offer a competitive edge for attracting customers and ensuring a high quality of service is provided for them.
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