Story image

Schneider Electric: The impact of the cloud on hybrid data center designs

01 Jun 2017

At a recent event I sat down with Kevin Brown, Chief of Technology and Innovation for Schneider Electric’s IT Division, and we covered a lot of ground talking about how increasingly widespread adoption of cloud services is impacting the way companies are having to adapt to meet their data center infrastructure requirements.

Framing the conversation, Kevin said that today it’s not unusual for data center professionals to be managing a portfolio of environments which might include one or more larger on-premise – or regional facilities as he refers to them, plus some applications hosted in the cloud, and multiple edge data centers.

This creates a number of design and management challenges across the whole network, from the assurance of availability, resilience and efficiency to maintaining high levels of security throughout all points of physical access.

“One of the things we’re seeing, for example, is how the use of cloud computing is driving the need to rethink the redundancy requirements of edge physical infrastructure equipment,” says Kevin Brown.

Part of the issue is that the need for micro data centers has emerged quickly and this has given data center managers little time to develop appropriate designs and best practices.

In many cases, little thought appears to have been given to the fact that with cloud adoption, on-premise equipment has become more critical, with connectivity to the cloud crucial for uninterrupted business operations. Associated with this is the shift in availability expectations with a low tolerance for any disruption in service.

Traditionally, because of their strategic value to the delivery of compute services, regional and corporate data centers have tended to be designed and built to the resiliency requirements of Tier III classification.

However, with cloud entering the equation, the business criticality of edge data centers is rising and this means we need address the requirement here differently to the way we have done in the past.

Although these localized and smaller on-premise data centers may only comprise a few racks, it is recognized that they must also meet the same level of resilience and they must meet the availability expectations of the user. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Typically, then, to avoid downtime, edge data centers need to be designed with dual redundant power supplies, N+1 cooling and dual network paths as a minimum requirement – Kevin Brown covers the requirement in more detail in What are the Best Practices for Designing Edge Data Centers in Hybrid Cloud Environments?

Physical security, the first step in cyber security, also poses a risk. Large data centers usually incorporate measures from the site perimeter to the network rack to prevent unauthorized access to equipment and data.

'However, today’s edge data centers may exist in easily accessible spaces such as open offices or unmonitored and low footfall areas such as stair wells.

These are obvious targets for malicious threats, but can be met through the simple use of video monitoring, door locks and specialist enclosures.

Managing multiple sites is both time consuming and expensive. In addition, many sites are dependent on shared infrastructure systems such as generators, switchgear and chillers.

Overlay this with the fact that management and operations protocols may also vary from location to location, and the complexity of the hybrid environment presents another potential pitfall for availability.

In these cases remote management and a consolidated or centralized management platform may help.

With the criticality of edge data centers on the increase, improvements in design practices need to focus on physical security, monitoring, power and cooling redundancy, and network connectivity.

The advent of specific edge data center solutions, coupled with latest DCIM management software applications can answer the design and operations challenges of a mix of data center resources which includes on-premise and outsourced infrastructure.

Article by Damien Wells, Schneider Electric Data Center Blog Network 

Dropbox invests in hosting data inside Australia
Global collaboration platform Dropbox has announced it will now host Australian customer files onshore to support its growing base in the country.
Opinion: Meeting the edge computing challenge
Scale Computing's Alan Conboy discusses the importance of edge computing and the imminent challenges that lie ahead.
Alibaba Cloud discusses past and unveils ‘strategic upgrade’
Alibaba Group's Jeff Zhang spoke about the company’s aim to develop into a more technologically inclusive platform.
Protecting data centres from fire – your options
Chubb's Pierre Thorne discusses the countless potential implications of a data centre outage, and how to avoid them.
Opinion: How SD-WAN changes the game for 5G networks
5G/SD-WAN mobile edge computing and network slicing will enable and drive innovative NFV services, according to Kelly Ahuja, CEO, Versa Networks
TYAN unveils new inference-optimised GPU platforms with NVIDIA T4 accelerators
“TYAN servers with NVIDIA T4 GPUs are designed to excel at all accelerated workloads, including machine learning, deep learning, and virtual desktops.”
AMD delivers data center grunt for Google's new game streaming platform
'By combining our gaming DNA and data center technology leadership with a long-standing commitment to open platforms, AMD provides unique technologies and expertise to enable world-class cloud gaming experiences."
Inspur announces AI edge computing server with NVIDIA GPUs
“The dynamic nature and rapid expansion of AI workloads require an adaptive and optimised set of hardware, software and services for developers to utilise as they build their own solutions."