Tech

NTT Data to adopt datacenter inspection robots

The Japanese operations of NTT Data will deploy datacenter-monitoring robots in 15 of its own facilities, then offer them as-a-service to customers.

The firm tested the bots in a single datacenter from August to November 2022. They appear to have passed muster because the machines will be rolled out – literally and metaphorically – to other bit barns in April 2023.

Like Fujitsu’s datacenter inspectors we reported on in November, NTT’s use a 4K camera capable of focusing on kit in racks and radioing reports of problems.

Similarly to Fujitsu’s bots, NTT Data’s droids can’t do much that the ubiquitous Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) cannot in terms of detecting internal problems.

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However, NTT’s bots beat Fujitsu’s with their ability to detect abnormalities in appearance and to sniff the air for odors that may indicate something is awry.

While the bots have arms that appear to have grippers, it is unclear if they can match Alibaba’s datacenter robots that replace disks inside a storage array or server.

NTT Data claims the machines shave one or two hours from the daily chores of human datacenter staff, and have the potential to reduce inspection work by eighty percent once AI can be applied to focus the bots on the things that matter most.

Video of NTT Data’s machine in action can be found online:

YouTube Video

The company eventually plans to offer the bots as-a-service, in addition to putting them to work in its own datacenters in Japan. There’s no word on whether the company will also deploy the bots to the datacenters it operates in more than 20 locations elsewhere in the world.

Wherever it tries to sell the bots, the pitch will be that they offer an easier and cheaper route to automated inspection of datacenters. And they’re needed, NTT Data believes, because shortages of skilled labor around the world could threaten the viability of datacenter ops. ®


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