Why is virtual reality (VR) so cool? Because it transports you to another dimension – both in sight and sound – without you having to go anywhere.

Last Christmas, our “thanks-for-being-a-great-wireless-customer” gift was a Samsung VR headset; it turned out to be the most popular gift in our family. Wearing the VR headset was strange at the start. Being able to jump out of an airplane, experience a rollercoaster ride and be inserted into an intense videogame soon became a problem, however – because everyone wanted to use it!

Not only is virtual reality cool, but augmented reality is, too – it’s the next progression of VR.

I have to admit that, when my two teenaged sons showed me Pokémon Go – a good example of augmented reality – I laughed and thought, “It’s just another videogame.” After watching them spend hours playing (and get well-needed exercise), and observing the intense worldwide interest, I had to check out the game for myself. I have to admit that it was pretty cool, walking around our neighborhood tracking down the elusive Raichu and other interesting characters. 

Virtual reality is becoming mainstream in our day-to-day interactions, and is commonly being used in several markets and applications:

  • Healthcare: To distract patients and ease anxiety and pain, placing them in a calm, natural setting
  • Retail Stores: To train employees on how to handle the holiday rush without the risk of training in real-life scenarios
  • Architectural Firms: To put clients in their space virtually during design, reducing decision-making time
  • Auto Manufacturing: To test vehicle safety before manufacturing actually begins
  • Hospitality: To allow travelers to virtually check out hotels, resorts and cities before booking

Virtual reality in data centers is also becoming more common – especially in design, operations and sales – to improve decision-making, reduce costs and offer more benefits to IT staff and multi-tenant data center (MTDC) tenants. Here are a few examples …

Advances in Multifiber ConnectivityVR in Data Center Design and Construction

When multiple sites are being considered, VR can take end-users outside the data center to represent how it will fit within the confines of each site.

Once a site is selected, virtual reality can be used in data center design to demonstrate different configurations: containment, cabinet heights, top-of-rack vs. end-of-row cabling, etc.). This helps manufacturers and service providers deliver clear information and show potential concepts to clients – both IT and facilities management staff – so they can better understand how their data center environment will function. True-to-life representations of how racks and cable will be placed can speed up decision-making so that data center projects move faster and adhere to tight timelines.

During construction, virtual reality in data centers can provide a virtual roadmap to show which steps come next (walls, raised floor, power/cooling equipment, etc.) and what they’ll look like, and represent how the equipment will move in and out of the data center.

VR in Data Center Operations

To confirm operations at lights-out, unmanned facilities, or to show tenants and senior staff members how things are truly running, multi-tenant data center operators are using virtual reality to showcase real-time facility data (cooling and power settings, equipment temperature and even chilled water-valve settings).

VR in Data Center Sales

Much like hotels and real estate owners are using VR to offer virtual tours that replace or supplement in-person site visits, data center owners are starting to do the same.

One cutting-edge colocation owner is using virtual reality to showcase its CA3 data center; potential customers can take a virtual tour of the facility and view all critical areas: the main entrance, security stations, white space/computer equipment and mechanical/electrical support equipment.

Virtual reality in data centers can also be used to benefit global hyperscale cloud providers that own and operate data centers on different continents, giving their prospects and current customers a sense of security and organization.

VR in IT

Some may argue that VR is yet another conduit for a cyberattack, but it’s important to note that it could also be used to showcase physical security measures, including those integrated into cabling, cabinets and network infrastructure.

In lieu of providing training on live equipment (with the potential risk of taking down a network or data center), new employees or contractors could be trained and tested – through VR – on technical knowledge of critical systems at different sites.

The Future of VR Looks Bright

Although VR is being used on a relatively small scale in the data center industry right now, its benefits and maturity outweigh the risks of using it – we expect to see VR’s usage grow in the coming months and years.

As the technology improves, and more data center owners and customers become comfortable with the concept, the data center environment will become the perfect venue for taking advantage of the benefits of virtual reality in design, construction, operation and sales. 

Belden’s data center solutions team can help you navigate the “real” world of data center connectivity, working with your team to find solutions that reduce costs, improve uptime, maximize space utilization and improve security. Learn more here.