Sometimes the edge is a factory floor or a classroom rather than an IT closet. As edge computing is embraced by a broader range of customers and use cases, vendors are expanding their offerings to enable IT capacity to be deployed quickly and supported remotely.
That includes Schneider Electric, the global energy conglomerate with a strong presence in the data center industry. Last week Schneider expanded its suite of edge computing offerings, with a new series of micro data centers designed for rugged indoor environments, along with a service to provide on-site support for edge customers. Both are built atop Schneider’s EcoStruxture platform of hardware and software.
Schneider is among the providers working to address the “industrial edge” of customers that want the benefits of edge infrastructure, only without the data center.
“We’ve been saying for two or three years that you need to think about these edge environments much more seriously,” said Kevin Brown, Senior Vice President, EcoStruxure Solutions for Schneider Electric.. “In the traditional model you would build a special room for these IT racks. Now customers just want to get the things delivered, roll it in and plug it in and be up and running. Sometimes they want to just put it on the factory floor environment. These enclosures are rated to withstand moisture and dust in these more robust environments.”
The EcoStruxure Micro Data Center R-Series is a pre-packaged, enclosed rack system with power, cooling, security, and management features, seeking to offer a “plug and play” option for deployments outside a traditional data center environment. The R-Series includes a range of form factors – including 6U, 24U, and 42U (full rack) models – and can sit on a slab or be mounted on a wall.
The R-Series expands on existing Schneider micro data centers designed for standard IT (the S-Series) and semi-controlled commercial environments (the C-Series).
“These micro data centers provide a solution that’s simple-to-deploy and simple-to-manage for IT and industrial channels and for end users like manufacturers and distributors,” said Jean-Baptiste Plagne, Vice President Offer Management, Rack & Edge Systems, Energy Management, Schneider Electric. “Advanced automation technologies come with significant cost-saving, safety, and productivity benefits, but to reap the benefits, IT must be located closer to the end point — in spaces that weren’t built with IT in mind.”
The R-Series can be managed remotely with Schneider Electric’s portfolio of software and services when there’s limited-to-no on-site IT staff. But Schneider is also working with channel partners to make on-site support more accessible for edge customers.
That’s the theme behind Schneider Electric Dispatch Services, which provides advanced remote troubleshooting and on-site support for single-phase edge infrastructure monitored with EcoStruxure IT Expert, which manages distributed IT across sites.
“Businesses today must be able to manage their distributed IT infrastructure with greater flexibility and efficiency,” said Brown. “With our expanded portfolio of edge services and deep expertise in IT infrastructure management, we’re helping customers revolutionize the way they manage their critical IT environments so they can spend more time focusing on or growing their core business.
“We think it’s quite interesting for sectors like education, where they clearly don’t have the staff to manage all this IT,” he added. “What they do have is an IT reseller who’s their partner. We’re trying to enable those IT resellers to work with us to be able to service those small environments.”