Schneider Electric’s involvement in the Cisco House project at Olympic Park has had a number of interesting outcomes, many of which I’m sure are, or will be, covered off in other posts elsewhere on this blog. But the reactions to our presence have ranged from those who don’t know much about the organisation being surprised at the size of Schneider Electric, our global footprint, breadth of experience and number of solutions; to those who know some of our brands quite well being surprised by the way some of our products and solutions have been integrated to work with other company’s offerings.
My own personal involvement in Cisco House began and ended when I presented to a number of partners from various backgrounds, about our DCIM software solution, StruxureWare for Data Centers. It became clear from some of what was said during the ensuing Q&A session, that end customers and the partners they choose to integrate all kinds of systems on their behalf, are suspicious of proprietary systems, even when they provide an apparent silver bullet to problems which are ubiquitous throughout industry.
The reasons for this are manifold, but seem to range from concerns about the escalation of costs as they get “locked in”, the potential loss of choice of suppliers or vendors for other areas of the customer’s business, to support issues (will a tier emerge which is capable of supporting the solution, and will it be diverse enough to be cost competitive) and even, long term, will the company that developed this solution even be here in 5 or 10 years?
This “due process” when selecting a supplier is something every company goes through with a special diligence the more costly and strategic the solution. It’s about mitigating risk and it’s as high a priority as assessing return on investment, or the capital and operational expenses which are associated. Ideas like standardization, compatibility and open systems very quickly become important factors, because they act in the customer’s favour rather than the vendor.
And right at this moment in time, these issues are all very relevant to the data center market as it starts to invest in more highly integrated DCIM solutions; from the people who are responsible at executive level for cost, efficiency and carbon footprint, to those at the coal face, responsible for optimised facilities and available IT services.
Schneider Electric solutions are woven into the fabric of Cisco House. Like Cisco’s presence there, you don’t necessarily experience it as a bunch of technology, wired up and presented in equipment racks and on walls. What you do experience is a facility which is being run in a sustainable manner, heated or cooled, lit and operating according to the demands of the people using it. You feel the benefit of the solution. If you were responsible for its cost, you’d see the benefit on your bottom line. If you had to purchase a solution like it, you could do so knowing that multiple vendors’ products already work together – it’s de-risked.
And that’s the point really. The StruxureWare offering has been developed to work with other vendors’ solutions; system to system, and system to device. I’ll talk more about these attributes in my next blog, but suffice to say, technology today means ensuring choice for the customer. And in this respect, by working with other vendors we not only do a better job for the customer, we make a better job of securing our long term presence in the market.