The Age of Autonomy has arrived. Smart systems enable an increasingly digitized world, from robots picking and packing items in warehouses to vehicles communicating with each other about traffic and road conditions to intelligent systems that feed weather data to airlines.
These systems depend on reliable, timely data collection, storage, and transmission. For example, robots need good data to find precise items on a warehouse shelf. Machine Learning (ML), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR) are other use cases that depend on immediate data processing and availability. In an increasing number of critical use cases, the data has to be processed and analyzed in real-time — or near real-time — to deliver the expected outcome. In addition, data timeliness can become a matter of life and death in scenarios such as smart traffic lights or robotic surgery.
Therefore, protecting data and ensuring its availability is a must. Without access to data, digitization is an aspiration, not a reality. And smart systems fall by the wayside. To support data-driven environments that are increasingly autonomous, organizations need two things:
- Scalable hybrid infrastructures that combine on-premise, cloud, and edge computing components
- Reliable power to prevent outages that halt operations and possibly damage brand reputation
The edge computing components in hybrid architectures have become just as critical as large data centers. Edge sites increasingly support critical real-time scenarios where data must be kept close to the source, its users, or both. The edge provides compute power at the source and reduces the latency associated with data traveling to and from cloud environments for processing and analytics.
As a result, organizations need a consistent, efficient, repeatable method of deploying and managing IT infrastructure and power protection as environments scale to hundreds or thousands of locations to maintain availability at the edge.
The ‘Easy Button’ Approach
To deploy and manage edge computing sites at scale, organizations need a kind of “easy button” that replicates edge solutions in a secure, efficient, sustainable manner. Such an approach recognizes that implementing smart systems requires smart planning. “Smart” doesn’t just happen.
Let’s say a manufacturer needs to deploy intelligent production systems at 160 locations across the globe. That means delivering rack systems, sensors, servers, UPS systems, security, and software applications to 160 sites. The company expects highly available edge sites with reliable power to ensure uninterrupted operations. The manufacturer also wants to reduce its carbon footprint by deploying equipment built with sustainable materials that meet energy-efficiency goals.
The “easy button” model employed by Schneider Electric leverages reference designs that address edge deployment challenges and ensure interoperability between sites and equipment. Reference designs were created in collaboration with an ecosystem of partners to provide reliable, standardized solutions across distributed hybrid environments. Each design is tested, validated, and approved to deliver the components, such as racks, servers, UPSs, and cooling fans, best suited to a specific use case. It can also include IT equipment to ensure the entire technology stack will function properly and can be rapidly deployed without needing experts at each site.
Pre-configured, sustainable solutions can be deployed, giving customers assurances that the technology will operate in precisely the same way everywhere because everything was pre-tested and validated. This standardized approach to edge deployments can reduce field engineering costs by 25% to 40% and maintenance costs by up to 7%.
Meeting strategic goals at edge computing sites
Solutions based on reference designs help organizations meet their efficiency, reliability, and security goals through standardization. This approach makes managing and scaling networks easier and minimizes the potential for error. Solutions also can be monitored remotely 24/7, providing a safe way to manage unstaffed sites that, due to the number – and in some cases remoteness – of locations would be nearly impossible to manage continuously.
The “easy button” brings a systematic approach to implementing and managing hybrid infrastructures. By providing consistency and reliability, the model gives organizations an easier entry to the Age of Autonomy.
To learn more about ideas and solutions to efficiently deploy, manage, and monitor their critical data infrastructure, check out my recent webinar from Industry of Things World USA. or check out Schneider Electric EcoStruxureTM Micro Data Solutions.