Like it or not, technology is now a huge part of our everyday lives. Online payments and the ability to manage our bank accounts through the Internet is now par for the course, while smart home devices such as IP cameras and smart locks help keep our homes a safer place. With autonomous cars likely to become a reality soon, it is sometimes easy to forget that technology isn’t always part of our daily lives.
Technology in business
The situation is similar in businesses, where a technological revolution is currently underway. Often billed as Industry 4.0, its impact is particularly evident in areas such as manufacturing. Aside from the faster speed of innovation and greater flexibility, it also promises other benefits including enhanced productivity and heightened efficiency.
As noted by Meenu Singhal, the vice president of industry business at Schneider Electric, Industry 4.0 can be defined as “machinery, storage systems, and production resources that carry out complex tasks, exchange information and give instructions to each other, without much human involvement”.
Organisations embrace Industry 4.0 with the expectation of benefits such as increased automation and resilience. Some of the technologies that businesses may put in place to achieve them range from the Internet of Things (IoT), machine to machine (M2M) communications, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and next-gen connectivity such as 5G.
But while the objectives and ambitions are clear, the path to successfully embracing Industry 4.0 is not. For many companies, this starts with the ability to massively scale their metering, sensing, and video capabilities to generate the requisite big data. But properly integrating, interpreting, and analysing this data for their benefit often requires massive IT in the form of compute and storage.
The micro data centre at the edge
With the ability to deliver ample power and cooling to IT infrastructure, this is where data centre come into the picture. Moreover, enabling machines to talk to each other and share information in real-time opens the door to more advanced capabilities and insights. Elsewhere, manufacturing machines enhance production efficiencies by analysing and tweaking hundreds or even thousands of seemingly disparate parameters.
To support machine learning and data warehousing, they should be quickly accessible, however. Fortunately, one trend that is becoming prevalent would undoubtedly be the rise of edge computing. This entails moving IT infrastructure into specialised facilities known as edge data centres that are located either on-premise or at locations near to end-users.
Designed to be resilient for deploying IT infrastructure, edge data centres are hence ideal for supporting Industry 4.0. While an edge deployment isn’t defined by the size of the facility or amount of hardware, the availability of micro data centres, such as the “Data Centre in a Box” solutions offered by APC by Schneider Electric offers another shot in the arm for such deployments.
With micro data centres available as customisable and scalable systems that range from the smallest wall-mount racks to office environment enclosures, businesses can easily roll out edge data centres to support their Industry 4.0 initiatives. You can learn more about Data centre in a Box here.
Article by Bhagwati Prasad, Vice President, Business Development, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric