The Edge Ecosystem is Greater than the Sum of its Parts

The Schneider Electric ecosystem strengthens customers’ in-house resources in more ways than you may have thought; reducing complexity through higher levels of integration, increasing ease of deployment and ensuring resilience through remote monitoring and smart maintenance.


“Ecosystems are vital,” says Nielsen Connect Partner Network leader, Brett Jones, “especially for those companies looking to put the customer at the forefront of their business operations.” Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company, says that in the digitally connected world, ecosystems are a key ingredient to growing existing markets and competing effectively.

So, are ecosystems a new concept to technology markets? The answer is probably not. The market in which we move is uniquely dependent upon systems which leverage the specialised design and manufacturing competencies of individual vendors collaborating and working together. Look no further than the relationship between microprocessor manufacturers and Operating System (OS) developers. Or the components on a PC board.

Today, sophisticated customers do not specify and assemble the parts needed to build up their preferred IT servers. Why would they? At a systems level, recent surveys point to increasing customer expectations that vendors will work together to solve challenges of integration. It’s a plug and play world which is gradually extending to include data centre physical infrastructure as well as software tools to manage resources.

Ecosystems – delivering choice, compatibility and confidence

In the past, in order to enjoy the benefits of ease of use, customers may have been forced to become locked into vendor’s hardware and software offers. In the data centre world, this may have been OK when the hardware choice was a single mainframe in a technical room. But today, customers depend on heterogeneous environments to ensure that business applications run reliably and efficiently.

It is strategically important that those visiting the Alliances page on the Schneider Electric website see the names displayed of the world’s largest IT and network vendors, as well as firms addressing some of the more esoteric requirements of vertical sectors. Alignment between our brands demonstrates a commitment from both parties to ensure that customers’ needs are front and centre of our operations.

From Cisco, IBM, Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo to Microsoft, VMWare, Inspur, NetApp, Nutanix, Scale Computing, Hirschmann and StorMagic, we count among our Strategic Alliances some of the most influential technology companies in the world. Through these partnerships, we develop solutions which work together seamlessly to address the individual needs of our key markets and customers.

It means that throughout the stack, the end user can maintain his or her choice of preferred supplier, assured of interoperability and compatibility, and confident that solutions can be supported by a global network of Alliance and experienced systems integrators, distributors, resellers and Elite channel partners.

Ecosystems – delivering scale, augmenting resources

A key challenge facing both the IT community and the data centre sector is a global skills shortage, the latter situation is something the Uptime Institute has been tracking since the inception of its annual Data Center Survey. Its 2020 report says that the proportion of managers saying they have difficulty finding qualified candidates for open jobs has risen steadily over the past several years.

While automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are touted as providing part of the solution for ensuring efficient and resilient future-state data centres, people are still central to operations in the industry. Where in-house teams are constrained, customers have been relying on the trusted expertise of Schneider and our partnerships to deliver a range of services which complement their own resources.

It is nearly 20 years since Schneider Electric revolutionised the industry with the introduction of integrated data centre physical infrastructure. At that time, the data centre sector was starting to re-emerge from the setbacks which followed the dotcom boom and bust. With the demand for facilities growing rapidly, a better way was needed to replace the lengthy and expensive process of delivering legacy data centres. APC InfrastruXure was developed to provide a standardised channel friendly solution enabling customers to grow their IT space quickly and with predictable performance.

Today, Schneider Electric channel partners are able to support customers throughout the data centre lifecycle, from design and build to maintenance and upgrade, and with remote monitoring to ensure ongoing reliability and uptime.

Ecosystems – solving problems of complexity

For most companies managing their own data centres, IT and facilities teams are in place to ensure smooth and uninterrupted operations. However, the need to provide faster data processing and analytics closer to the point of use in edge locations provides a greater stress on resources. The proliferation of devices and facilities increases the complexity of hybrid data centre networks, driving up SPOFs (Single Point of Failure) risks and the requirement for greater attention to systems and equipment.

Using EcoStruxure IT, customers are able to collaborate with partners and service bureaux to monitor the health of physical equipment and the devices attached to it. Using data and analytics, servicing requirements can be scheduled to minimise or mitigate downtime and prevent potential equipment failures becoming a reputational nightmare.

The adaptability of any ecosystem is fundamental, Pankaj Sharma – Executive Vice President, Secure Power Division at Schneider Electric highlights in his article Our partner ecosystem will be key to supporting our post-COVID world. He further articulates how the role of IT solution providers will take on greater importance as organisations accelerate their digital strategy as the effects of the pandemic diminish over time:

“The partner ecosystem will play a critical role moving forward. There will need to be greater collaboration and more understanding if we intend to help our customers advance their digital transformation journey.”

Today, the crisis in attracting new talent has ramifications both for the maintenance and upgrade of existing data centre facilities. However, the same skills shortage could also affect the introduction and extension of new networks and infrastructure, for example, the numerous and often remote IT deployment which are going to be required to implement edge computing and 5G. Much of that skills shortage can be filled by engaging in a wider ecosystem.

Exceeding customer expectations means constantly improving resilience for customers. The breadth of international partnerships and local knowledge enables Schneider Electric to provide the seamless integration of IT infrastructure solutions that are secure and reliable throughout the whole supply chain. A new white paper describes how an integrated ecosystem of cooperative partners, vendors, and end users is a model which helps mitigate the unique challenges of edge applications. “Integration isn’t just for the micro data center” is available for free download from this link.

About the author:

Natalya Makarochkina is the Senior Vice President of the Secure Power in Schneider Electric. Secure Power, International. Secure Power provides complete physical infrastructure solutions for data centers, distributed IT environments, and industrial applications. In this position Natalya is leading the business across multiple geographies across Asia, Pacific, India, Middle East, South America and CIS. Prior to serving as SVP, Natalya was Vice President managing Secure Power business for Schneider Electric in CIS.

Natalya’s leadership roles included numerous senior management and sales positions across high-tech. industries and companies such as HP, Philips, Oracle, 3COM and others.

Natalya holds various degrees and certifications with Universiteit Antwerp (Executive MBA), INSEAD, Higher School of Economics and The Maurice Thorez Institute of Foreign Languages.

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