Chi Sen Gay, head of data centre software solutions, APJ & EMEA, at Schneider Electric argues a cloud-based management system is required to manage today’s complex and distributed IT ecosystems

With the exponential growth of data, the rise of IoT and the increasing adoption of cloud applications, the data centre industry is experiencing tremendous disruption.

We now have more data centres, intertwined across more locations, generating more data than at any point in history. In the coming years, analysts are predicting that capacity will continue to spread from the core to the edge, driving more complexity in data centres. Today, many companies are faced with the daunting task of managing a complex hybrid IT ecosystem which includes a centralised, regional edge and local edge centres.

Centralised data centres provide large-scale compute and storage, and are usually located in remote locations; regional edge centres bring applications closer to endpoints, addressing high volume and low latency needs; and local edge centres are deployed close to users to gather local data, provide local computational power and deliver high bandwidth content.

Cloud-based systems also mean that your edge centres can be easily deployed, standardised and scaled up in a cost-effective way

Retail businesses are a good example of organisations that rely on such complex hybrid IT ecosystems. Typically, a few large centralised data centres are established to support corporate offices.

In addition, a large number of distributed local edge sites are needed to support physical stores and retail technologies such as cloud-based POS, RFID, augmented reality, smart dressing rooms and data analytics. These local edge sites are critical to ensuring vital processing, storage and connectivity.

A challenging a hybrid complexity

A report from 451 Research shows that it’s not just retail that is facing a challenge of complex hybridity. In fact, most organisations have to deal with these complex IT environments, whether it’s the finance, healthcare, education, telecommunications or aviation sectors.

One of the greatest challenges faced by organisations is the lack of end-to-end visibility across their hybrid infrastructures. Speaking to our customers, we find that many local edge data centres are lights-out sites – there are no IT experts on site, and monitoring and management conditions are poor.

The environment around these local edge facilities is also physically insecure – servers are kept in hall closets, back rooms or under a desk, and anyone with malicious intent can easily gain access. Good security starts with secure infrastructure – as edge expands security has to be prioritised by design to shut the door to bad actors.

Cloud-based management 

The rise of the edge is forcing us to rethink how we manage data centres. It is becoming increasingly clear that a cloud-based management system is required to manage today’s complex and distributed IT ecosystems.

To enable the accelerated pace of digital transformation and to meet the demands of a hyper-connected society, tomorrow’s distributed computing ecosystems need to be managed from the cloud

With a cloud-based solution, you can collect and analyse massive amounts of data, providing greater opportunities to perform benchmarking and improve performance.

Leveraging big data analytics and machine learning, organisations will be able to spot trends, predict failures, make data-driven decisions and uncover insights to optimise operations.

Cloud-based systems also mean that your edge centres can be easily deployed, standardised and scaled up in a cost-effective way. It’s possible to remotely monitor and manage all of your sites from a single location, either from a mobile device or laptop, with real-time data visibility and alerts.

In a recent case study, a global retail chain with more than 2,300 stores adopted a hybrid IT environment.  Through the use of a cloud-based management solution, they have seen an 82 percent improvement in store stability, a decrease of active UPS faults by 85, and an estimated savings of 3,600 hours of labour per year.

To enable the accelerated pace of digital transformation and to meet the demands of a hyper-connected society, tomorrow’s distributed computing ecosystems need to be managed from the cloud, and augmented by AI and analytics solutions to deliver resilience, availability, efficiency and performance.