Cutting Confusion over Open System Software in the Data Center

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services


With the use of data center management software and DCIM on the rise, the requirement for applications to be Open System is increasing. However, there has been some confusion in the use of terminology, especially between Open System Software and Open Source Software which has also confused the specific benefits that each type presents for the end user.

I caught up with Henrik Leerberg at DatacentreDynamics Converged in London, with a view to trying to bring some clarity to the situation. Henrik also writes for this blog, but in real life he’s Product Director at Schneider Electric overseeing the Data Center Software product line.

I started by asking Henrik to provide a definition for the terms Open System and Open Source: “There is a broad confusion at least in some communities,” said Leerberg. “Is it an open system or are we really talking open source?”

Open Source is something that developers work with,” he said. “You can be a member of a software community and share your source code and adopt other people’s source code to actually build your own system.” Operating systems like Linux and OpenSolaris which have been developed through community efforts are good examples.

“Open System means that the systems developers are building actually work together, they can speak each other through well-defined web services and APIs that are built into the software pieces at both ends.”

I asked Henrik to talk a little about ideas like system-to-system connectivity and system-to-component connectivity. Why are these important and why should a customer be aware of what’s going on there?

Henrik said, “Within these systems a software component picks up data, for example temperature measurements, power readings and so on. That is a system-to-component relationship. But you also need different systems to talk to each other at a higher level. You need a DCIM product for instance to speak to a VMware solution; to a Cisco system and so on. So you need all those system to systems to speak to each other and communicate the data that is specific to those domains.”

Of course it is one thing clarifying this terminology but what users are really interested in is how Open Systems are of benefit.

Henrik said, “I would say, definitely open system need to be deployed everywhere these days. The times are over where you would risk putting yourself in a corner through vendor lock in and so on from a customer perspective. You really do want your systems to be inter-operational: To be able to speak to each other going all the way down to the physical assets in the data center and the meter that reports data about the energy the servers are actually consuming.”

Ultimately Open System Software, which is of-course how StruxureWare for Data Centers has been designed, is fully capable of communicating with other enterprise software applications designed on similar lines. The production of Open System software by Schneider Electric and partner companies like Cisco, EMC, Intel and SAP, allows for greater control and more feature rich functionality. In the end, it’s a major step towards greater reliability and efficiency throughout the complete data center system, and greater energy management capability across the enterprise.

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