Schneider Electric in the News, week of 6/22/2015

July 6, 2015 Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric News

SearchDataCenter: Avoid BMS potholes in your data center with DCIM tools
By Sharon Zaharoff, June 2015 

The right DCIM tool steers the data center toward better performance and energy use. So choose wisely.

BOSTON -- Fitting a BMS and DCIM tools together into a functional infrastructure can be a real challenge, so it's best to leave it to the pros.

The data center infrastructure management (DCIM) panel at the 2015 AFCOM Symposium here this month discussed how their companies made purchasing decisions and meshed DCIM tools with an existing building management system (BMS).

DCIM is not a "thing," but rather a category of modules, said Sev Onyshkevych, chief marketing officer of FieldView Solutions, a data center monitoring software vendor based in Edison, N.J. You can pick and choose the best tools, or buy an all-in-one toolset.BMS focuses on the temperature, humidity, power use and other intelligence systems in the data center. DCIM embraces a wider audience, like server positions, configurations, capacity planning and rack-level power and temperature monitoring. BMS isn't intended to handle the scope and granularity of tasks needed to watch over the data center environment, which is why data center managers include DCIM tools into their infrastructure.

The evolution of DCIM

At its peak two years ago, vendors previously disassociated with DCIM came out with new tools to incorporate into the data center infrastructure. During the "slope of enlightenment" period, data center managers bought DCIM modules, typically starting with IT asset management or monitoring tools. The hype has since dwindled, and most DCIM vendors have left the market. 

To integrate the two, a DCIM platform must be compatible with the existing BMS. Rack level PDUs, temperature, humidity, leak and air flow sensors, smoke and fire detection and intrusion detection, among other systems, must also be added.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School operates 50 IT closets and a 1.4 megawatt data center in Shrewsbury, Mass. that was built in 2011. It was designed to take advantage of the Massachusetts climate as much as possible, said David Plamondon, data center operations architect for the medical school.

UMass has a 100% direct air-side economizer that allows it to run without mechanical cooling about eight months out of the year, which saves money and reduces its CO2 footprint. Environmental monitoring is especially important for an energy efficient design.

The medical school is about 18 months into its full DCIM deployment across the facility and IT closets.

Implementing DCIM tools

Before you choose which DCIM tools to integrate, "You need a handle on what's inside the data center, and then focus on the 'what if's', tweaking things, simulating and predicting failures, etc.," Onyshkevych said. 

The first step in UMass's DCIM selection was to ask, "What do we want to do better, and what are we looking to get from DCIM?" With over 50 vendors in the DCIM market, such as CA Technologies, Raritan and Schneider Electric, and everyone -- IT and facilities -- operating differently, it was important to have a set of criteria to narrow the search, Plamondon said.

The UMass team broke down its requirements into three categories.

First: things it wanted to automate. Inventory tracking and asset management typically fall into this category, he said, along with environmental monitoring, even at a basic level.

Second: a list of must-have functionality. "For example, we wanted to be able to integrate with our existing building management system," he said. "If our operation was 100% colo this would not be needed."

And finally: a list of wants.

From there, the team was able to reduce the field to a handful of DCIM tools. Plamondon declined to say which specific vendors he used. Examples of DCIM tools include Schneider Electric's StruxureWare and Emerson Network Power's Trellis.

UMass considered pricing models and discovered that most vendors fell into two categories: price per endpoint and monitored device, or price per rack.

"We were looking at monitoring far more endpoints than racks, so cost wise a per-rack solution made more sense for us," he said. "This allowed us to narrow the field down even further."

And finally, UMass Medical's team performed an in-house trial. Over the course of 30 days, UMass got a feel for the software and decided if it fit into its environment and workflow.

Fitting BMS with DCIM

"The data center is like a [school] bus," Plamondon said, and IT is the students. BMS has the bus on cruise control. While the bus moves at a steady rate, a driver must still steer and break when necessary. DCIM can fill in all of those gaps, he said.

With the virtualization of the data center, the UMass Medical School had to find a system to integrate with the virtual world -- like its VMware hypervisor.

"BMS won't be a standalone product in the next five to 10 years," Plamondon said. BMS is designed to be closed loop, where DCIM is open loop -- meant to be modified by the user.

While BMS and DCIM overlap, Onyshkevych doesn't expect the two to join. "I see a federation with BMS and DCIM. It's a confederation of different tools," he said.

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Datacenter Dynamics: Schneider Electric extends modular data center products to the edge
By David Chernicoff, June 19, 2015 

Expands product offerings and assimilates 2014 acquisition AST Modular

There is little question that data center growth has certain limitations. There are too many options that would not be well served by a full scale data center, and businesses are realizing that in an international business world is often important to be able to deliver localized resources that can be scaled appropriately to the market.

Schneider Electric has long offered complete modular data center designs ranging from full buildings to shipping container sized offerings. But after integrating with its 2014 acquisition AST Modular, it is now offering designs that can take a business right out to edge computing, offering single box and multi-rack configurations that can fit the micro and mini-data center needs of data center customers.


Source: Schneider Electric



On the edge for the rest of us chickens…

Businesses are quickly realizing that between a growing worldwide customer base and the Internet of Things potentially adding millions of connected devices and users, it is going to be important to deliver computing power and storage wherever and whenever needed, in a fashion that does not negatively impact the end user experience with potential latency and connectivity issues. This means edge computing and the ability to deploy smaller scale, but highly reliable micro data centers will become more important. 

Schneider is now offering made to order micro data center designs under the name SmartBunker and SmartShelter. SmartBunker is available in three versions, each configured to the buyer’s specifications but with specific environmental optimizations. SmartBunker FX is the ruggedized design, able to be dropped into any practical environment, while SmartBunker SX is designed for the traditional computer room operation. In between we have Smartbunker CX, which is designed to go into a standard office environment. For harsh environments requiring a multi-rack solution, there is the SmartShelter product.

Using these designs a business could deploy the exact same IT configuration into a wide variety of environmentally different locations, allowing the company to deliver the same edge computing capabilities regardless of the conditions where the micro data center needed to be deployed.

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Mission Critical: Schneider Electric Announces Micro Data Center Solutions for Edge Computing Applications
June 19, 2015

New solutions address the growth of connected devices and data applications where latency and processing speed are concerns.

Schneider Electric has launched its new micro data center solution portfolio. These solutions are ideal for customers who need to reduce latency and quickly add capacity while ensuring a secure and easy to manage environment. Delivered in a single enclosure, the benefits of the new micro data center solutions include power, cooling and management software to support a self contained, secure computing environment.

"Through this new offer, Schneider Electric is addressing the latency, bandwidth and processing speed challenges customers are facing with the growth of connected devices and data applications," said Dave Johnson, senior vice president, data center solutions, Schneider Electric. "We are already seeing the emergence of edge applications in retail and industrial applications, and we believe the need for edge computing will only grow as the Internet of Things expands into commercial applications."

Schneider Electric's micro data center physical infrastructure solutions include the enclosure, uninterruptible power supply (UPS), power distribution, management software (DCIM), environmental monitoring, cooling and security – all tested, assembled, packaged, and then shipped together in a factory environment.

Solutions include:

  • SmartBunker SX: traditional for IT rooms
  • SmartBunker CX: optimized for office environments
  • SmartBunker FX: ruggedized for any environment
  • SmartShelter : multi-rack, ruggedized for any environment

Key solutions benefits include the following:

  • Simplified management
  • High levels of security
  • Optimized installation and operating cost
  • Configured, delivered and installed in the shortest possible time
  • Reliability via standardization and factory testing

Industry analysts agree that a unified approach to micro data centers will allow for more seamless adoption at an organizational scale. "Localized or micro data centers are a fact of life, but by applying a self-contained, scalable and remotely managed solution and process, CIOs can reduce costs, improve agility, and introduce new levels of compliance and service continuity," said David Cappuccio, vice president, distinguished analyst and chief of research for the Infrastructure teams at Gartner. "Creating micro data centers is something companies have done for years, but often in an ad hoc manner. By partnering with vendors, and creating a consistent and standardized architecture, enterprises can regain control of these critical assets, and increase the ability to rapidly introduce site-specific services, while reducing risks and operational costs, and improving service levels." Gartner, "Apply a Self-Contained Solution to Micro Data Centers", David Cappuccio, 26 January 2015 Document #G00268769

The new micro data center solutions are now available in North America and will release globally during 2015. Each solution has specific options available and can be customized upon request. Please visit: here for more information.

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