Computer, Heal Thyself! Or At Least, Ask for Help...

Anyone who flies probably cringed at the reports of American Airline’s massive data fail yesterday--stranding passengers, canceling flights, creating general chaos in a half-dozen airports.  It’s not the first time for American--a similar glitch grounded 400 flights a couple of years ago.  And of course United Airlines managed a similar data faceplant in July, when a failed router grounded all its aircraft for over an hour.  

It made me think of a intriguing session I’m helping with at the annual DellWorld 2015 conference next month in Austin.  It’s called “Inventing the Data Center of Tomorrow”, taking in all the implications of real-time data analytics, cloud computing, the Internet of Things and ubiquitous mobility.  

But the element of the session that’s relevant to today’s airline story is the notion of using smart objects, sensors and software to monitor the ongoing health of the IT infrastructure itself--to predict upcoming component failures and maintenance issues before they turn into system crashes.  

Continuing with the airline theme, it’s not unlike the array of smart sensors that are now built into jet engines to monitor performance.  Some of those systems are so smart they can radio ahead to the next airport to order a replacement part before the plane lands.  

Should we be doing anything less with the data centers that increasingly control so much of our lives and livelihood?