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Schneider Electric – Data centers without borders

With the development of the hybrid IT environment, which is becoming more and more distributed, the supervision of the data center infrastructure must also keep up – however, companies want to know what kind of return they can expect from the introduced management tools. With a new, free-to-use value calculator, Schneider Electric helps build the DCIM required for sustainable, reliable and resilient operation.

Gone are the days when companies could serve all their business needs from a single data center. The development of the requirements has forced them to increasingly distribute and transform their IT environment into a hybrid, to deploy their resources in colocation facilities and edge networks in addition to public clouds. In order for IT managers to be able to extend efficient, reliable, secure and sustainable operation to all the locations, to the data center as a whole, which is becoming borderless, the software tools that support the monitoring of the IT environment must also continue to develop – he points out in his white paper (How Modern DCIM Addresses CIO Management Challenges within Distributed, Hybrid IT Environments) by Schneider Electric.

According to the supplier, data center infrastructure monitoring, DCIM, is currently entering the third stage of its development, which we asked István Gendúr, head of Schneider Electric’s Secure Power business, about.

Computerworld: What trends, changing needs and circumstances, developing technologies brought DCIM 3.0 to life, and how does it differ from the previous two waves?

István Gendúr: The evolution of DCIM started in the 80s, when companies increased the availability of PC servers with smaller uninterruptible power sources and UPSs, so they also needed a software that facilitated the management of installed devices. The first wave of monitoring tools brought the necessary insight, however, the demands placed on servers developed a lot over the next twenty years, and operators faced new challenges. Around the turn of the millennium, IT managers had already moved so many PC servers into their data centers that it became questionable whether the facilities could overcome the load with floor space, power supply and cooling.

The supervision of the data center infrastructure entered the second stage of its development. Not only the software package helping to answer the mentioned questions, but also the name DCIM (data center infrastructure management) itself, as well as the PUE (power usage effectiveness) measure showing the efficiency of the data center’s energy use, were born at that time. DCIM 2.0 software provides a unified monitoring platform based on everything, thus helping to monitor central alarms and monitored values, as well as helping to understand the causes of errors that may occur.

Twenty years later, i.e. nowadays, IT infrastructure supervision cannot focus exclusively on the traditional data center, but must cover all points of the distributed, hybrid environment. Business-critical infrastructure now runs everywhere and continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and this trend, which has particularly accelerated in the last couple of years, gave birth to DCIM 3.0. In the spirit of the third wave, we are also continuing to develop our EcoStruxure IT software portfolio, which companies can implement both locally and in the cloud for manufacturer-independent monitoring, supervision, planning and modeling of the physical IT infrastructure, whether their distributed and hybrid, unlimited data center spans a few locations or thousands of locations. . We have developed our software for new types of challenges, which help IT managers and their operating teams in adding additional capacities and modeling the impact of planned changes.

CW: How does one of Schneider Electric’s latest tools, the DCIM Monitoring Value Calculator for Distributed IT, announced in February, support all of this?

István Gendúr: With our value calculator, which both large and small companies can access for free on our website, IT and/or business managers planning investments can calculate the return they can achieve with which monitoring software tools based on the parameters of their existing IT environment. Our calculator, which is easy for anyone to use, does not give estimates, its operation is based on mathematical models, and its results can be accurately measured.

Depending on company size and organizational characteristics, the installed base, the operating team, costs, and losses resulting from unplanned shutdowns, which device a company should introduce may differ. However, it is generally true that the use of monitoring tools helps their users to achieve greater business value and profitability over time. During the use of the calculator, as well as in answering the questions arising in connection with the selected software, our specialists help the companies in choosing the most suitable tool and in the further technical preparation of the introduction.

CW: What advice do you have for domestic IT managers on how to approach the implementation of DCIM 3.0?

István Gendúr: The way to the third level leads through the second. On the domestic market, DCIM 2.0 has typically been built by those organizations whose main activity is the operation of IT infrastructure either for customers or within the company – in the long run, this means cheaper and more sustainable, more reliable and safer operation and gives them a competitive advantage. Other companies, industrial users, must first reach the DCIM 2.0 level, but they can also use our value calculator for this, and ask our experts for help.

However, it applies to all organizations that in order to effectively manage the IT infrastructure, you must first have an accurate picture of the devices that make up your network, as well as their role. The next step is to classify your devices according to the importance of their roles based on the registry, and then implement the appropriate solution for monitoring the most critical devices, which you can select based on the size, complexity and other criteria of the IT environment.

EcoStruxure, Schneider Electric’s broader solution portfolio, responds to the challenges of Industry 4.0. The first level consists of our electrical devices prepared for data communication, the second level includes software that collects and monitors data from the devices, and the third level includes software solutions that add additional value, such as design, modeling, automation.

Our DCIM solution belongs to the IT solutions within the EcoStruxure portfolio and is also divided into three levels. According to our terminology, by implementing monitoring, companies move to the IT Expert level, which is the equivalent of DCIM 2.0, and we support this with the second layer of the EcoStruxure portfolio. In the case of smaller companies, this continuous insight into operations may even be sufficient for efficient operation.

However, organizations relying on larger, more complex and distributed IT environments are advised to proceed to the third level. By introducing additional elements of our EcoStruxure software package, for example, with our IT Advisor software, they can create full-scale supervision, with which they can always find free resources, balance their systems, log events, and serve needs in the field of planning and modeling. We recommend this for long-term, optimal operation and monitoring.

CW: Along with all this, Schneider also draws attention to the fact that in the long term, increasing the efficiency and sustainability of data center infrastructure may not be enough, and that data centers must become self-sustaining. What are the main features of the regenerative data center, how will it differ from current facilities?

István Gendúr: Our digitized world requires adequate computing and storage capacity, so the demand for data centers is growing so fast that the facilities’ energy consumption may reach 2 percent of the world’s electricity consumption in the next few years. According to Schneider Electric’s forward-looking concept, data centers must therefore become renewable.

For example, the regenerative data center produces the energy required for its operation locally from renewable sources, uses heat extracted from the IT infrastructure and water for cooling, and also recycles the materials used for the production of IT devices. With its sustainability initiatives, the industry is currently taking the first steps on this path.

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