Schneider Electric empowers an integrated ecosystem to solve Edge Computing Challenges

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In an increasingly digitized and data-driven world, the challenge of providing high levels of compute power, connectivity and availability to where it is needed most, requires a hybrid architecture of edge data centres.

To support IT professionals in developing a strategy to deploy IT at the edge, Schneider Electric, the leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation, released a new White Paper entitled “Solving Edge Computing Infrastructure Challenges”. The paper creates a structure for anticipating potential issues at the edge and details how to identify an ecosystem of partners with which to collaborate, integrate and deliver all of the essential infrastructure components required. While providing many great benefits to users across industrial, enterprise, and retail consumer environments, edge data centres also present a number of challenges in terms of how they are built, deployed and managed.

Due to their distributed nature and the growing number of deployments, edge sites are often unmanned and lack available IT staff, which makes them hard to manage efficiently, while ensuring low service and maintenance costs. Speaking during an interactive partner training session, Mr Edouard Heripret, Schneider Electric’s General Manager in East Africa noted that “Effective micro data centres are born from an integrated ecosystem of partners who work together to mitigate edge challenges found in each phase of the project lifecycle and embracing standardisation, integration, cooperative partnerships and cloud-based management tools addresses the current challenges found in edge environments in leaps and bounds.”

Collaborative vendor ecosystem is the key to deploy faster, more resilient and cost-effective at the edge According to Worldwide Technology, “The ability to pre-configure technology platforms and devices before shipment increases deployment speed and can reduce field engineering costs by 25% to 40%, increasing order processing speed by 20% and reducing maintenance costs by 7%.”

As such, a pre-integrated and collaborative approach within the vendor ecosystem, in addition to rule-based configuration tools, reference designs and cloud-based management software are key to making edge solutions faster to deploy, more resilient, and cost-effective for customers.

“The unique challenges of deploying and maintaining IT at the edge of the network dictates a new collaborative model”, said Wendy Torell, Sr. Research Analyst at Schneider Electric’s Science Center, adding, “This highly integrated approach involves vendors and partners working together to make selecting, deploying, and maintaining edge compute solutions much easier and more cost effective for end users.”

This approach requires an integrated ‘edge’ ecosystem comprised of IT and Infrastructure Vendors, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s), Systems Integrators and Managed Service Providers (MSP’s), who work together in specific ways to simplify, accelerate, and ensure resiliency at the edge. The ecosystem works for the end user to monitor and maintain all edge assets, while delivering greater levels of uptime and cost-effectiveness for the end user. The ecosystem, in effect, becomes the extended workforce of the end user.

The responsibility of the vendors is to create simple tools to guide the selection and configuration of data centres, which are optimized for specific customer applications. Whether in retail, industrial or commercial consumer environments, vendors should test and optimize solutions, providing reference designs and systems that allow rapid integration of hardware and software management tools.

Additionally, today’s businesses must rely on cloud-based management software, namely Data Center Management as a Service (DMaaS) solutions such as Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT and onpremise Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools, to manage multiple edge data centers efficiently in real-time. Using a combination of pre-integrated hardware solutions, in addition to cloudbased software, can reduce field engineering costs by between 25% and 40%, while increasing uptime and availability. Overall, a collaborative ecosystem of vendors, partners, software and tools should be chosen to augment a customer’s edge computing requirements; from configuration to assembly and delivery, through to operation, management and maintenance.

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