Schneider Electric: More Software and the IoT to Reshape Data Center Design

There is a macro trend of moving proprietary hardware systems to open systems and moving hardware to software – at this point, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who tracked my GENBAND Perspectives 15 blog post or last week’s HP NFV story or even the writing I’ve done on Imagine Communications disrupting the video distribution space with SDN and virtualized solutions.

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To learn more, I sat down with Schneider Electric’s Srdan Mutabdzija (above), Global Solution Offer Manager, and Jason Covitz (below), Director of Strategy for IT Business where we talked about IT infrastructure and how it will look in the future.

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Jason emphasized the move to commoditized and standardized infrastructure – not just in the spaces mentioned above but oil and gas, mining and manufacturing. Srdan explained the evolution of their products and the market in general is to a more prefabricated, plug-and-play, efficient cooling solutions which lower time to market, reduce risk and allow a more seamless move to public/private clouds.

An example of their product offering is the FlexPod Express for the office environment – allowing the company’s data center product to be deployed in an SMB or branch office. The solution supports products from Microsoft, NetApp and Cisco among others.


I also had a chance to read a white paper on the costs associated with a TCO analysis of a traditional data center vs. a scalable, prefabricated data center. The premise is standardized, scalable, pre-assembled, and integrated data center facility power and cooling modules provide a TCO savings of 30% compared to traditional, built-out data center power and cooling infrastructure. Avoiding overbuilt capacity and scaling the design over time contributes to a significant percentage of the overall savings. The results are based on a hypothetical data center in St. Louis, MO in the USA with density of 7kW/rack

You can see below the OPEX and CAPEX costs decrease considerably since the data center can be built out over time. Moreover, Significant CAPEX and OPEX savings accrue when the data center is built out to 4 MW instead of 5 MW. Moreover, running the system at a higher percent load each year results in energy savings and the capital costs savings is approximately 2% due to the cost of capital. One assumes this becomes a greater savings in a higher interest rate environment.

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The chart below shows the savings all together over time.

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Another important takeaway from my conversation is the edge isn’t going away – especially in light of the fact IoT devices will continue to generate a tremendous amount of data. Srdan said, “We are moving to a hybrid cloud with emphasis on a big data center in the middle and smaller ones on the sides.”

One final comment was enterprises not wanting to handcuff themselves to the public cloud. There are many reasons to keep data local in fact, security, the ability to know if government data requests have been made and privacy.

In short, Schneider Electric sees the data center of the future morphing to a more prepackaged offering with modules being added as needed. Moreover they see the need to ensure enough compute power is near the devices which will generate the bulk of the data. In other words the IoT will be responsible for a rethink of how corporations design and build out their macro and micro data centers.

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