Build your company’s sustainability credentials with Edge computing

For Australian & New Zealand companies, finding the ‘new normal’ way of working and doing business with customers during and post COVID-19 continues to be top priority.

Teams are working remotely, customers are increasingly transacting online and system performance is much more important than ever before.

As a result, Digital Transformation (DX) is now top of the list for New Zealand companies, with 89 per cent of Australian/New Zealand CEOs under pressure to deliver, according to IDC.

The need to bring data processing as close as possible to the action means it is also increasingly being done outside the data centre.

Edge computing will see 21 per cent compound annual growth to 2024, according to GlobalData, and worldwide spend in that timeframe will hit $250.6B, according to IDC.

In Australia, working with a partner that designs edge solutions holistically is key to success. Look to your Edge partner to deliver a consistent quality of infrastructure all the way from the Cloud to your Edge deployments.

According to Gartner, 90 per cent of businesses will initially identify a single use case for Edge but are likely to substantially increase their usage over coming years.

So, focus on building clear, simple and repeatably deployable solutions, and take advantage of your partner’s Edge expertise by having regular conversations with to stay across new opportunities as they arise.

Profit from sustainability

APC Working with a technology vendor like Schneider Electric™ – the world’s most sustainable company in 2021, according to the Global 100 Index – allows CIOs to develop their own company’s sustainability credentials by using proven solutions that have clearly documented sustainability metrics.

Sustainability is a lucrative business opportunity. According to Harvard University researchers, companies that put sustainability centre in their strategy see markedly better performance: 46 per cent better share market performance, 61 per cent better return on assets and 23 per cent better return on equity.

Centralised data centres currently produce 2 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions and are forecasted to use 20 per cent of global electricity by 2025, so maximising energy consumption efficiency is critical. Creating a sustainability framework that applies across both data centre and Edge infrastructure will help your company achieve its corporate sustainability goals.

More than 75 per cent of Schneider Electric’s products are Green Premium standard, helping to reduce wide area network traffic and reliance on data centres. They are also highly optimisable for efficiency.

This is where Schneider Electric partners can assist you in designing environmentally sustainable solutions. They will help with assessing your company and forming a holistic solution around your answers. Some of the points of discussion may include:

  • Do you have sustainability goals in place as a company?

  • Are you implementing the most efficient designs?

  • Do you know how to operate those designs most efficiently?

  • What's your renewable energy strategy?

  • What’s is the carbon footprint of the equipment you’re buying?

Procuring end-to-end solutions with optimal IT and operational technology parameters will equate to a lower total cost of ownership solution, and this will in turn help you to meet sustainability targets. Watch Schneider Electric’s Senior Vice President EcoStruxure Solutions Kevin Brown explain it at Schneider Electric’s Innovation Day 2021.

Demonstrating hidden value

According to Energy Consumers Australia, energy costs for businesses have been rising on average 10 per cent per year. And in NZ, electricity prices for commercial customers rose 15.4 per cent in the June 2021 quarter alone, according to Stats NZ.

While this is something your business can’t control, you can certainly manage consumption better with smarter configuration decisions for both IT and OT requirements.

For example, retailers operating on thin profit margins (4 per cent is not uncommon after all costs are taken into account) may find that a 15 per cent reduction in energy consumption reduces power bills to the extent that overall profitability increases.

Your preferred Schneider Electric partner can design an optimised operational technology solution for your edge deployments which can deliver this kind of tangible business value.

Comprehensive monitoring software solutions like Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT will allow your Schneider Electric partner to provide the proactive digital overlay needed to manage Edge infrastructure for you.

This can help ensure impending problems like battery failures in Edge deployments are managed before the problem occurs, but can also help with energy use optimisation.

The opportunity of Edge in key market segments

Edge computing is a direct response to the overwhelming growth of data that's being created by new technologies, such as smartphones and devices connected to IoT.

But it’s also closely linked to the deployment of 5G technology, which reduces the problem of latency and allows machines and robots to operate with near real-time data.

Artificial intelligence deployed on Edge nodes is allowing businesses to analyse data in real time, to enable rapid decision making and tighter control on processes that impact profitability.

In retail | 2021 was a year of massive disruption for retail, with a rapid transition to online shopping, and this will continue in 2022. Providing smooth omni-channel retailing is about much more than just the sales experience – it also requires accurate, rapid fulfilment and the ability to quickly scale to accommodate peaks in demand. There are so many points of failure in a retail fulfilment process and only one thing needs to go wrong to give a customer a frustrating experience. Don’t let this happen to your customers. Investing in the technology suite needed to keep everything up and running even if the internet connection to head office is down is key. Server racks, UPS, micro data centres and cloud-based management tools are key elements to a robust edge architecture. See how leading retailers are using Edge to deliver robotics, AI for rapid shopping fulfilment of omni-channel shopping experiences.

In mining | The top threat to any mining organisation is losing its licence to operate. More than ever before, the community expects higher levels of safety and improvements in sustainability in mining. A safety incident can cost a company millions of dollars in production slowdown, while sustainability shortfalls can call into question a mining company’s responsible behaviour as a member of the community. The workforce is now more transient, which means knowledge can’t be passed down ‘generations’ of workers as in the past. Instead, knowledge and training must now be embedded in the machines and systems themselves, often using AR/VR to demonstrate procedures immersively. However, these training systems must have high performance, or they won’t be used. See how the mining sector is using Edge to improve safety, training, productivity and real-time monitoring.

In education | Education is all about creating memories. Institutions now compete to attract students with digital technology that can give students immersive experiences to build those memories more efficiently. Those that remain competitive will deliver “connected campuses” with latency-sensitive applications like finger touch technologies that allow hands-on learning and AR, VR and mixed reality systems so students can experience what it would be like to be in the room, operating a specialised radiology lab, for example. This needs to be underpinned with a high-performance hybrid architecture that brings together the scale of cloud and the high performance of Edge computing. Watch how Edge computing can enable modern, disruptive educational experiences.

Addressing pain points with Edge solutions

Leveraging Edge solutions starts with understanding your business’ challenges and how Edge can resolve these points.

Latency: Applications are increasingly reliant on latency of 10ms or less. Edge achieves this by removing the internet from the network path between the application and the server.

Bandwidth: As workers increasingly work with video and other large documents, they expect it to be available on demand on every device they use. Edge solves internet bandwidth demands by keeping files local, allowing streaming at gigabit LAN speeds.

Security: According to Trend Micro, 29 per cent of data breaches involve physical security intrusion. Because Edge servers are deployed in less controlled environments, physical security is critical. Schneider Electric has a long history in operational technology and can provide robust physical security around the electronic components.

Autonomy: When server infrastructure is on-site in an Edge micro data centre, the system can be designed to continue working even if the upstream link to the main data centre is down.

Ease of deployment: Schneider Electric’s micro data centre solutions can be deployed quickly – in weeks, not months – and cost up to 48 per cent less than data centre builds. Once in place, they can then be securely managed from anywhere using the EcoStruxure IT suite.

Fitting the space: The advantage of Edge is it can be placed anywhere. This can range from rugged factory environments with wide temperature variance, dust and water and little to no physical access control, through to highly controlled IT server rooms.

How Edge can be more efficient

Edge is all about efficiency – both in terms of sustainable energy use and in reducing your business’ dependence on single points of failure.

Organisations are increasingly looking for IT solution providers to prove the sustainability of solutions they’re proposing. This is where Schneider Electric’s Green Premium program can help. 75 per cent of Schneider Electric’s range now meets this standard and detailed information is published about the products’ compliance with different international regulatory standards, the energy efficiency and battery recyclability. This allows an optimised total lifecycle cost.

To assist with operating Edge assets as efficiently as possible, Schneider Electric has an entire methodology to help customers get visibility of their edge assets, optimise them and reduce the cost and burden of managing the deployment.

Managed services for integrated Edge

There are many ways an Edge micro data centre can be designed and deployed more efficiently, providing lower cost and higher resilience, with lower internal cost of operation.

Choosing a Lithium Ion UPS will make an Edge deployment more resilient as well as requiring three times fewer service cycles as a traditional UPS, for example. When monitored by a managed service partner, the UPS can be actively monitored and battery swap service proactively provided before a failure occurs.

Converged systems can also make it less expensive to build infrastructure. Schneider Electric’s micro data centres are an example of a converged solution where everything can be built in a factory and then deployed to a site complete, reducing the build cost of the overall solution.

Lifecycle decisions can be made before adverse events happen. Sensors in micro data centres constantly produce operational metrics and this information can be used to proactively manage problems, as well as remotely administering systems rather than having to send technicians on site to fix issues.

Schneider Electric partners can help reduce the cost of building these systems, reducing overall lifecycle cost and providing clients with better visibility and control of their deployments than they might achieve by building it themselves.

Learn more about how Edge is evolving for efficiency.

Take advantage of our experience

Engaging early with a Schneider Electric partner will help you save time in designing your Edge solutions – we recommend engaging with us early to benefit from our free advice on design before writing detailed specifications.

Ensuring the same quality of IT infrastructure right across your hybrid IT architecture – from Edge to central data centre – should be a priority, to provide consistent levels of availability.

Schneider Electric has EcoStruxure solutions that suit all Edge scenarios and meet this objective.

For on-site Edge installations that need to be placed in a small space, Schneider Electric’s Micro Data Centres are a single cabinet that can be installed into the corner of a room or a hallway, with strong physical security built in.

For larger solutions, a Row Data Centre – a set of cabinets arranged in a row – can be installed into a room and physically secured, with comprehensive operational technology solutions.

Prefabricated Edge micro data centre can be great solutions for warehouses, factories, and industrial sites where there are no dedicated IT rooms. These are quick to deploy because the infrastructure can be built in a factory and then deployed externally outdoors.

The solutions are designed around three different site scenarios: R Series – for rugged environments, C Series – for commercial/office environments and S Series – for controlled IT environments.

All the solutions include options for the necessary infrastructure including enclosures, cooling, power, fire suppression, lifecycle services, security and management.

Schneider Electric partners can quickly design an end-to-end solution for your business needs, including building third-party IT products from major vendors into the overall solution.

Get in touch with a Schneider Electric partner today for a consultation on your business’ Edge needs.

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  • How to Capitalize on the Edge Computing Opportunity

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