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Schneider Electric: What is Infrastructure Management as a Service?

13 Jul 2017

Fast moving change requires an agile response. Not something that the traditionally conservative data center sector has often been able to boast about.

The act of building or upgrading infrastructure to meet an existing requirement can be a time-consuming process, let alone trying to meet an unpredictable need without the excessive costs of over-provisioning.

In recent years, we’ve observed the acceleration of new trends impacting the market: The Internet of Things bringing with it an increasingly vast volume of machine data; the outsourcing of many enterprise applications into the cloud and with it the elevation of the importance of resilience in distributed IT environments and edge data centers; a re-defining of availability for a connected and always-on generation of users.

And right across the domain, there’s been an emerging dilemma: How to increase operational efficiency and availability within an industry that relies on a break-fix program to meet service and maintenance requirements of both mission critical infrastructure and risky, local edge facilities.

Clearly a new and dynamic approach to data center operations is required.

Infrastructure Management as a Service – or IMaaS – is just such a game changer.

Comprising an integrated portfolio of both hardware and software solutions, IMaaS enables optimization of the IT layer by simplifying, monitoring, and servicing data center physical infrastructure from the edge to the enterprise.

Utilizing cloud-based software, it promises real-time operational visibility, alarming and shortened resolution times without all of the costs associated with deploying an on-premise DCIM system.

As an exemplar case of using technology to solve the challenges of technology, two transformational developments have enabled the development of IMaaS: the predominance of ‘internet connected’ IT physical infrastructure and the ubiquitous availability of secure cloud services that enable data to be pooled and propel the new world of big data analysis.

IMaaS is quick to deploy, low cost (starting at free) and requires no more than a software download plus a smartphone app for users to begin to get remote monitoring and real-time insights into the data center.

Whilst in the past, the cost and complexity of instrumenting a data center presented a barrier to DCIM deployments, IMaaS is able to utilize data from a range of sources such as ubiquitous temperature sensors for a fast track to value.

Currently around 1,000 new devices are being connected to the Schneider Electric cloud each day. As more and more data centers are connected to IMaaS, more and more data from more diverse manufacturers’ equipment, is accumulated into a data lake.

Whilst the data is tagged and anonymized for privacy reasons, analytics can be applied which can be turned into customized recommendations to improve data center performance. From a big data point of view, cloud-based remote monitoring brings advantages that point monitoring solutions can’t match.

With IMaaS listening to and learning from connected devices, the system is able to provide better management information to the data center manager.

This enables maximized protection of critical equipment through smart alarming and remote troubleshooting. At the same time, smart insights are able help improve availability and efficiency.

And with data being accumulated across a range of operating and environmental conditions, IMaaS becomes more intelligent about maintenance requirements, as well as gathering insight into events surrounding any equipment failure.

In any event, the cloud-based approach to data center maintenance and repair gives the facility manager choice.

In addition, drawing on data from a wider pool also offers guidance about spares holding and so-on.

Article by Henrik Leerberg, Schneider Electric Data Center Blog Network

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