At Power to the Cloud 2014 I spoke with David O’Coimin, Solution Offer Manager at Schneider Electric to find out what’s happening in the converged infrastructure market at present.
David told me that Schneider Electric have now formally introduced the FlexPod and FlexPod Express programme across the EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa) region. “We’ve also recently added North America and the APJ (Asia Pacific) region to the programme. We’ve extended our relationship with EMC around VSPEX, and had some product and brackets made, so that now you can have a NetShelter SX from APC with VSPEX inside; a VSPEX panel on the doors; the customer name and so on, on there. We’ve gotten our StruxureWare software integrated with VCE Vision from VBLOCK and we’ve integrated with HP. Also, there’s been some success with Dell around their Vertex conversion infrastructure. It’s all starting to pick up pace, quite a bit. Around 49% of IT data centre managers, will say that they have some form of converged infrastructure in their data centre, and around 40% of servers, worldwide, have yet to be virtualised, so there’s a lot still to happen but it’s moving in the right direction. Schneider Electric is very well positioned to offer that life-support infrastructure around the conversion infrastructure that nobody else seems to be able to do.”
I went on to ask David what sort of customers he expected to be interested in the converged infrastructure offerings from Schneider Electric.
David explained, “We can’t continue the way we’re growing data centres, in terms of the amount of digital information there is out there, as well as data that we have and processing that we need to do. We need hyper-efficient, converged stacks to be able to process data on a scale that we will need to process in the future. So it’s enterprises looking to utilise cloud, deploy a mobile workforce and make the most of social media strategies; Internet; digital selling and big data. Converged Infrastructure is very enterprise focused, on large organisations with large data centres, but also importantly organisations with a widespread geographical footprint, (for example: retail outlets, bank branches and health clinics) where a smarter network edge is needed to be able to handle the sort of data tsunami that’s coming. Customers need converged infrastructure in those spaces. So organisations that get that, are our customers, and we’re seeing it start to happen now, with large deployments to branch offices of these kinds of solutions.”
Furthermore, David described that the key piece is taking the knowledge and expertise that Schneider Electric has garnered in over a decade of developing reference designs and then applying that in the development of converged infrastructure products and solutions.
David then pointed out that this has led to what we’re now starting to see as the awareness, that Schneider Electric has the understanding to be able to bundle the right pieces and the right integrations, the glue in form of software, to make the two work together. It’s making sure that both the IT platform and the physical infrastructure, as well as the the life-support system that it sits in, interacts in an effective way. Put simply, Schneider Electric delivers the physical solution with the software glue to make it all work together.
The advantages that these solutions offer customers are all based on the fact that these solutions are built around Schneider Electric’s famous reference designs David told me. The advantage that a reference design gives you, is that it’s been pre-designed, the thinking has been done for you in terms of what components will work together best and most reliably. Then it’s pre-built for you through a distribution partner, like an Avnet or a Comstor, who will build the whole solution for you, including the IT platform, before it arrives on site. This means that your solution has been pre-tested and that someone has made sure that it works properly meaning your organisation doesn’t need to do that.
This all adds up to a massive saving in terms of the costs and the time involved in designing, testing, prototyping, deploying, checking, re-prototyping and redeploying by choosing a converged infrastructure solution. You end up with a tried and trusted provider delivering a solution that you know is going to work quickly and cost effectively.