Data Center

Decoding the data center of the future with help from A Christmas Story

Decoder Pin, Red Ryder BB Gun with IOT, Edge, & EcoStruxure

IoT - digital snowman

As the holidays approach, my kids are wishing for a myriad of gadgets but my wish list has one only item: a decoder pin like the one that nine-year-old Ralphie hopes to find each time he races to the mailbox in A Christmas Story. I love that movie and how Ralphie is sure that the prized decoder pin will provide insider knowledge into the Little Orphan Annie Secret Society.

After a remarkable decade of transformation in our industry, I’d love nothing more for Christmas than to decode what is coming next.

Our team recently glanced back at the last 10 years and realized that the term cloud computing did not exist before 2006. That was the year Amazon Web Services was announced and the term ‘cloud computing’ was created.

Fast forward to today, about ten years later.

The industry is talking about edge computing, renewable energy, driverless cars and making sure the passengers in those driverless cars will have the bandwidth they need. I can only imagine Ralphie riding in a driverless car and “double dog daring” him to turn off his internet connection! The 1940’s version of Ralphie played in the snow all day and convinced his friend to stick his tongue to a frozen flag pole but I guarantee you that modern Ralphie would want some digital bandwidth.

Our team analyzed the performance improvement of data centers over these 10 years. Our model shows that our industry has reduced losses in the physical infrastructure approximately 80% by improving product efficiencies and utilizing better design practices like containment. Unfortunately, we are probably approaching the point of diminishing returns with these strategies.

I believe it’s a safe assumption that the insatiable demand by humans for data in one form or another will continue. Remember how Ralphie’s dad plugged the Christmas tree lights into a dangerously overloaded outlet that burst into flames? It’s possible that our industry could be approaching a similar ‘energy overload.’

We are likely on an unsustainable trajectory unless we again develop new techniques to efficiently build out compute, network, and storage capacity. Hence the conversation is moving away from just PUE to the overall performance of the hybrid cloud system.

Or phrased differently: How do we get the next 80% improvement in the next 10 years and how do we deal with the impact of edge computing?

boy in santa hat - edge computing

For Schneider Electric, the answer lies in thinking broader and being more open. While we need to continue to improve the physical infrastructure performance, we also need to look at the supply side of the equation and the IT side of the equation. If the industry can start to design all three holistically then there are significant gains to be had. This is why we announced EcoStruxure, our IoT-enabled, open, and interoperable system architecture with apps, analytics, and services, edge control, and connected products. We believe that big data analytics and cloud-based technologies provide a brave new horizon of opportunities to improve efficiency and reliability. And we are focused on being open and looking at the entire lifecycle: Planning, Deploying, and Operating.

In A Christmas Story, Ralphie’s decoder pin turned out to be a bust, nothing more than a crummy commercial for Ovaltine. But he did get what he really wanted: an official Red Ryder BB gun on Christmas morning.

So, maybe I won’t get a decoder pin, but I am optimistic that EcoStruxure provides the right path to get what we really want: another 80% improvement in 10 years. Here are the links to some of my favorite A Christmas Story scenes and I wish all of you a very happy 2018.

Ralphie discovers the decoder ring is a bust.

I triple dog dare you to lick the flag pole.

Ralphie gets his Red Ryder BB gun.


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