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Schneider Electric pushes computing to the edge

Read time 4min 10sec
Dave Johnson, executive VP of the Secure Power Division at Schneider Electric.
Dave Johnson, executive VP of the Secure Power Division at Schneider Electric.

With around 75% of enterprise-generated data forecast to be created and processed at the edge by 2025, energy management and automation solutions firm Schneider Electric says it is well-positioned to take advantage of the infinite opportunities presented by the edge evolution.

Speaking at the “Life at the Edge” international press event in Singapore last week, Dave Johnson, executive VP of the Secure Power Division at Schneider Electric, discussed the company’s edge computing strategy, and the challenges and opportunities presented by the edge evolution.

According to Gartner, around 10% of enterprise-generated data is created and processed outside a traditional centralised data centre or cloud. By 2025, this figure is expected to reach 75%.

The emergence of the digital economy has created opportunities for Internet of things (IOT)-enabled platforms, and Schneider Electric has identified a growth opportunity in enabling digital transformation for organisations, through its integrated systems and cloud-based services and solutions, explained Johnson.

“Our business has gone through a history of innovation in three waves. In the 1980s, we started by focusing on PC networks and experienced a huge growth from that. Only later, in the 1990s, did we start focusing on data centre services and solutions – where we adopted different innovative approaches to the data centre market that nobody had done before.

“The third wave is the current wave of edge IT. With the advent of IOT, there is a huge edge evolution ahead of us, representing at least five to 10 years of exciting opportunity for Schneider. Traditional IT is shifting and becoming more distributed, requiring a digital approach to IT infrastructure and operations. Edge computing presents a promising way forward for organisations across the globe.”

The French multinational corporation, headquartered in Rueil-Malmaison, France, was originally established in 1836 as Schneider & Cie. It was renamed Schneider Electric in May 1999.

Schneider Electric offers integrated energy solutions, including software, critical power and cooling solutions for data centres, edge IT and non-IT applications across multiple market segments.

The company has 137 000 employees in over 100 countries globally, with 42% of the business being in emerging markets.

In 2015, Schneider Electric launched a brand strategy called “Life Is On”, which aims to showcase the role of technology in the societal value of energy sustainability and efficiency.

The company has pledged to invest EUR10 billion in research and development for sustainable development between 2015 and 2025.

Schneider Electric, explained Johnson, is pursuing edge computing with a focus on three key verticals that are fast emerging through digital transformation: commercial (retail, healthcare, finance and education), industrial (oil and gas, mining, automotive and manufacturing) and telco (cell towers and base stations).

“Adoption of advanced technologies and methodologies such as cloud, AI and IOT is demanding a new kind of technical knowledge and dexterity. We are ready to support organisations with their transition to the edge.

“While edge computing can bring in huge benefits, all edge environments have some common challenges,” Johnson noted.

“These include poor resiliency, lack of remote monitoring and management, and lack of standardisation. The solution to resolve these challenges is a combination of an integrated system, a cloud-based architecture and an ecosystem of partners.”

Schneider’s partner ecosystem includes VMware, Cisco, Dell EMC, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, among others.

Johnson discussed Schneider’s IOT-enabled architecture, EcoStruxure – which uses Microsoft Azure to deliver solutions in six domains: power, IT, building, machine, plant and grid; targeted at four markets: building, data centre, industry and infrastructure.

“EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s IOT-enabled, plug-and-play, open, interoperable architecture and platform, used in homes and commercial buildings. It collects data from intelligent devices around the organisation, manages and analyses it either locally using edge control or remotely in the cloud, providing users with critical insights to improve their business.”

During the “Life at the Edge” event, Schneider Electric announced two new e-guides to support organisations in addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by edge computing: “How to Capitalise on the Edge Computing Opportunity” and “Buyer’s Guide to Edge Infrastructure Management.

“Developed in partnership with independent research firm Canalys, the ‘How to Capitalise on the Edge Computing Opportunity’ e-guide is designed to help managed service providers and value-added resellers identify new revenue streams by supporting customers in their edge computing strategy.

“The ‘Buyer’s Guide to Edge Infrastructure Management’ identifies the right questions to ask and the key steps IT and data centre professionals should take before selecting and deploying an edge infrastructure management solution,” concluded Johnson.

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