Data Center

The Data Center Enters a New Age with Edge Computing

At DCD Zettastructure in London, I spoke with Kevin Brown, the SVP of Innovation & CTO for Schneider Electric’s IT Division, about the ways he’s seen the data center sector being transformed over the last 10 years. His answer was simple, in 10 years we’ve seen mass migration into the centralized architecture of cloud computing, and now a swing towards decentralization as edge computing starts to grow.

Brown said, “It’s funny, when we looked back and we were trying to understand what’s been the impact of some of the things that we’ve done in the industry. For example, if you think about the term ‘cloud computing,’ it didn’t exist before 2006. So, in this last 10 or 11 years we’ve gone from cloud computing being invented and now today people are talking about edge computing, which is going to be another wave of complexity that’s hitting us.”

Adapting to Trends like Cloud Computing and Edge Data Centers

I asked Brown how trends like cloud and edge computing have affected what Schneider Electric does as a company, providing data center physical infrastructure and management software.

“I think we’re at an inflection point in the industry,” he commented. “If you look at what we’ve done over the last decade, by making our products more efficient, by advocating best practices in data center design, build and operations, we’ve eliminated 80% of the losses via the physical infrastructure layer.”

“In fact,” Brown continued, “we’ve gotten pretty good at making data centers efficient today. But if we look forward to the next 10 years – and if this insatiable demand for data that humans seem to have continues –  those strategies won’t be enough. We’re starting to look at it and say, ‘okay where’s the next 80% improvement going to come from?’ You simply won’t get there by making more efficient products or doing the things that we’ve done the past a little better.”

Edge Computing Driving Change in Data Center Architecture

“As an industry, we really need to start looking at things differently – but I think that’s going to be a challenge,” said Brown.

As we move forward, efficiency will continue to be a benchmark, and it’s natural that the industry will continue to strive for more efficient products and solutions. “But,” said Brown, “better products are not going to be enough.”

“Instead we’re going to need to start looking at the entire eco-system and energy consumption. At Schneider Electric, there are four key vectors that we’re looking at. These include the continuation of developing ever more efficient solutions, as well as more effective deployment practices – and by the way, I think there’s lots of opportunities for using new cooling strategies and we’re doing a lot of work in this area.”

“The third vector concerns both the supply and demand-side of power. There are interesting strategies there to optimise how loads are being managed in the data center. And the fourth vector is to look at edge computing and the transformation that it will bring to the industry.”

Edge Computing will Disrupt the Way Industry Manages Data Centers

“The emergence of edge computing represents a big shift from the way things were a decade ago. As an operator then, I would have been worried about my big centralised data centers. As edge comes of age, organizations may have hundreds of, even thousands of, edge data centers to monitor and manage.”

“It’s going to be a tremendous data center infrastructure management challenge to make sure that distributed IT facilities are secure. Software is going to be a key enabler to facilitate this shift. To successfully handle all four vectors is going to require collaboration throughout the entire eco-system; from the supply side to the demand side. Software will play a key role enabling and optimizing energy consumption, together with the efficiency of the data center in the context of overall facility energy use and ultimately the carbon footprint that we’re creating as the industry services the requirements of the connected age.”

Download the Edge Computing White Paper

Left with wanting more? Feel free to read our White Paper #256, Why Cloud Computing is Requiring us to Rethink Resiliency at the Edge, to understand which best practices will ensure your businesses critical applications are always connected.


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