Data centers of today are major energy guzzlers and with 5G taking leads, the energy planning and execution are demanding a cost-effective approach. In an engaging conversation with Voice&Data, Sudhir Puthran, Vice President, Global FS Marketing Excellence, Service Business, Schneider Electric, reveals details on the company’s best practices and services in the telecom sector.
Voice&Data: Managing data center operations is known to be quite an ordeal for telcos. How does Schneider Electric play a supporting role in this?
Sudhir Puthran: Let me first tell you that Schneider Electric (SE) can do much more than just energy management that it is best known for. The company is supporting several telecom companies around the world to establish and maintain their data centers and server rooms, which are mission-critical in the functioning of any organization. Right from rolling out and implementing software-defined data centers, Schneider can plan; design and build a data center. Monitoring, automating and controlling the entire data center physical infrastructure is one of Schneider’s biggest forte in this digital generation. Now, all this is done on-premise and on the cloud with optimized cost and quality as priorities.
Building on our strengths, Schneider Electric is capable of helping the telecom client effectively plan and design the use of its data center real estate and also since we are known for our expertise in energy-efficient solutions, the center is also designed by us to create an environment that can provide fast and secure access to data and compute resources.
So, Schneider – with the necessary power, cooling, security, and management tools – delivers customizable, scalable, and highly secure solutions for the entire data center operations. Schneider is very adept at designing the electrical distribution and we possess knowledge on how the power should be effectively distributed in the center. In today’s world, delivering cost-effective solutions and also solutions that require less maintenance is critical. Our power distribution solutions bear in mind both those factors.
Schneider is very adept at designing the electrical distribution and we possess knowledge on how the power should be effectively distributed in the center.
Voice&Data: Schneider offers an EcoStruxure Platform. What is this product and how does it help telcos?
Sudhir Puthran: EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform. The platform is Schneider’s digital backbone connecting operational technology (OT) solutions with the latest in IT technology to unlock trapped value in our customer’s operations and leverages the potential of the Internet of Things. This platform supports the client in asset management and is built to deliver enhanced value around safety, reliability, efficiency, sustainability, and connectivity. EcoStruxure leverages advancements in IoT, mobility, sensing, cloud, analytics, and cybersecurity to deliver innovation at every level, i.e. from Connected Products, Edge Control to Apps, Analytics & Services. All managed over the cloud, the platform diagnoses the problem remotely without any lag in time and alerts the end-user. So far, EcoStruxure has recorded more than 480,000 installations, with the support of around 20,000 system integrators, connecting over 1.5 million assets.
EcoStruxure leverages advancements in IoT, mobility, sensing, cloud, analytics, and cybersecurity to deliver innovation at every level, i.e. from Connected Products, Edge Control to Apps, Analytics & Services.
Voice&Data: How are cooling solutions by Schneider Electric beneficial?
Sudhir Puthran: Schneider’s cooling solutions are a prime example of how we work with customers to provide the advanced solutions necessary to meet the needs of data-centric workloads in virtually every industry. Compute intensive applications like AI and IoT are driving the need for performance in the digital world. Largely driven by the recent explosion of IoT, the processing power needed for workloads like AI in data centers requires advanced solutions to keep connected systems operating efficiently. The development of a liquid cooling technology solution offers customers the performance needed to deliver on these growing compute demands, and we have pioneered and accomplished in fulfilling the demands.
Schneider Electric’s cooling technology has shown CapEx savings of 15 percent and energy savings of at least 10 percent, which leads to a 20-year Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) savings of over 11 percent.
Voice&Data: Being an energy management company, Schneider plays a very important role in managing energy workflow in a telecom tower. How is Schneider a differentiator in this space?
Sudhir Puthran: The energy requirement of the telecom industry is growing at a rapid pace as operators implement newer technologies and at the same time expand their network coverage in rural areas. India especially has shown a multi-fold increase in voice and data usage. More people in India are becoming connected by mobile devices. Increased cellular data traffic means more telecom towers are needed — particularly in developing and emerging regions of the world where electrical grids are either unreliable or nonexistent. India’s Department of Telecommunications has also mandated that all tower companies reduce their dependence on grid power and also diesel to cut carbon emissions.
India’s Department of Telecommunications has also mandated that all tower companies reduce their dependence on grid power and also diesel to cut carbon emissions.
Since diesel generators operate at low efficiency and carry a large carbon footprint, and are being very expensive, telecom companies adopted battery-based solutions including the integration of solar energy.
Schneider here plays a very critical role in switching the source of energy. Schneider helps the tower operators with solutions that enable automatic switching of the appropriate source of energy at their towers and base stations in remote sites. Schneider provides hybrid solutions that switch between operating a diesel generator when there is a lower capacity and likewise battery-operated towers when a higher capacity is needed for shorter durations.
Voice&Data: How will the energy requirements for 5G differ from 4G and how is Schneider preparing itself for the demand? What will be the major decisions that will be taken in terms of energy requirement with specific reference to 5G?
Sudhir Puthran: 5G is more than a successor to 4G. Currently, the infrastructure requires a lot of change and development to deliver much faster speeds and lower latency. Previously, the industrial complexes and factories were situated close to power substations. But then the steps ahead involved deploying thousands of systems for power distribution at the edge of power grids. Now with 5G, the power distribution will require hundreds of thousands or even millions of micro data centers globally.
Now with 5G, the power distribution will require hundreds of thousands or even millions of micro data centers globally.
5G may be the all the buzz, but transformation at the tower has already begun as tower owners are investing to meet the needs of 4.5G. And there’s much more transformation to come. Starting with cluster sites at base stations and, before long, will move to tops of buildings and built within parking lots. Schneider Electric is at the forefront of this transformation working with leading telecom and tower operators to understand the future requirements and define their future-ready infrastructure.
The giant leap in technological capability from 4G, 5G has the potential to completely reinvent the way things work. 5G is surely a huge disruptive force as it brings faster speeds, larger network capacities. 5G is a software-defined architecture and that means telecoms are setting themselves up for success by deploying a canvas from which they can innovate, easily introduce new services, and deploy applications on the network with location flexibility. This is a very important point, as the 5G standard the industry has been collaborating on – the 3GPP R16 Standard – is delayed and will not be frozen until April 2020, and not be released until July 2020.