Five years ago, the Schneider Electric Sydney conference opened with the phrase ‘Digital Revolution’.
“Since then it’s moved more and more towards evolution. And like anything evolutionary, it’s not about the strong surviving, it’s really about those that are best able to adapt,” the company’s vice president of IT business, strategic customers and segments Joe Craparotta said.
‘Digital evolution’ – the theme of Schneider’s annual Innovation Day this year – is about companies adapting, and doing so fast.
Schneider leaders, entrepreneurs and futurists called on the more than 500 industry professionals, solution experts and leading brands gathered at the event earlier this month to “dare to disrupt” and seize the opportunities of digital evolution.
The Sydney audience heard how Australian businesses across a range of sectors were working with Schneider to provide the best service to their customers and remain resilient.
Schneider retail chain segment manager Laetitia Odini – who is working with one of Australia’s largest supermarket chains – described the business disaster of a large store suffering a network outage.
“The cost of downtime can be significant. Imagine you’re there on a Saturday afternoon with your family, you’ve got your trolley full of food and suddenly there’s a power outage causing a network outage and all the cash registers and self-service checkouts are not working anymore,” she said.
“You’re going to get frustrated and leave the store without your shopping. It impacts the brand, the revenue and the customer experience.”
In airports, Schneider’s Vishal Nayak said that data centre’s were “such a critical part, if it goes down, it is going to be chaos”.
The reliability of systems was just as important in a hospital setting, explained Schneider health segment lead Val Jovevski.
“A hospital is a very complex beast, hundreds of IT applications, if any one of those systems is out – clinical systems like patient administration, pharmacy, robotic surgery. Imagine if that technology wasn’t available. On the operational side – things like car parking, getting through doors, we take them for granted. There’s an absolute heavy reliance on data centres being up and running,” he said.
In each case, Schneider is able to assist customers in ensuring service continuity, with its products, expertise and extensive partner, integrator and developer ecosystem.
“By applying simplification and innovation at every level, we will future proof and redefine data centres, and address the balance of speed without compromising availability or operational efficiency,” Craparotta said.
As well as talks by futurist Nancy Rademaker and former Lonely Planet CTO Gus Balbontin, a number of Schneider’s clients shared their stories.
Among them Murdoch University, describing how Schneider solutions and products were behind its new state-of-the-art networking and gaming facility. The company was responsible for the facility’s data centre and IT infrastructure, including power, cooling, racks, lighting, and cabling.
Mainfreight revealed how it had built a modern and scalable data center solution to support its present business needs and their 100-year vision all within a three month time frame, while iseek lifted the lid on how its Townsville data centre had been designed and built to survive a Category 5 Cyclone.
Canberra Data Centres’ CEO Greg Boorer presented his company’s focus on National Critical Infrastructure. Boorer also covered their recent name change to CDC Data Centre’s as they expand outside Canberra, with work on building a 120MW data centre campus in Sydney well under way.
Technology can help companies adapt faster, but its increasing complexity can be a hurdle too.
“From a data centre and hybrid IT perspective, the complexity of the architecture I haven’t seen for a long time. We’ve always oscillated between centralised and decentralized computing. We’re somewhere in the middle now and the reality is that the acceleration of cloud adoption in this country has meant that the edge is rising at a phenomenal rate,” Craparotta said.
Many companies are contending with a mix of on-premises, cloud and edge computing.
“It’s an a la carte menu system for organisations now, you choose from the menu you have on-premise you have data centre services and you have your cloud services. It’s defined by the application and often the business strategy. Almost all organisations now are using a mix of these services. It’s rare to find someone that is purely sitting in one camp,” said Andrew Kirker, Schneider’s general manager, data centres.
Edge computing is perhaps the least well understood of the options, and involves processing data closer to where it is generated and captured, which can dramatically improve the speed, capacity and security of data-intensive mission critical business operations.
Schneider – which puts five per cent of revenues back into research and development – offers leading capabilities for whatever balance of compute its customers opt for. Meanwhile, its open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform EcoStruxure helps them maximise the value of their systems and business data.
“Digital disruption is team sport. It requires players that cannot only transform your digital journey but that can help build out your inspiring business vision, support and accelerate your people vision and manage the energy and automation that brings this all to life,” Craparotta said to conclude his keynote.
“If you allow us, we would love to be part of that team,” he said.