Schneider Electric's StruxureWare

Bill Kleyman

May 11, 2015

8 Min Read
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Schneider Electric is a global organization specializing in energy management and automation with operations in more than 100 countries. Headquartered in Rueil-Malmaison, France, its StruxureWare for Data Centers solution was initially introduced to the DCIM market in June 2011 and has grown into a full suite. However, Schneider Electric has had a centralized monitoring solution in place since 2006, as well as a capacity and change management solution.

The latest StruxureWare DCIM platform is a management software suite designed to collect and manage data about a data center’s assets, resource use and operation status throughout the data center lifecycle. This information is then distributed, integrated, and applied in ways that help managers optimize the data center’s performance and meet IT, business and service-oriented goals.

Today, three factors drive the StruxureWare DCIM solution:

  • A comprehensive suite of modular and integrated software tools, spanning from centralized monitoring, to operation, analysis and optimization of the data center capacities.

  • An associated portfolio of lifecycle services, supporting all stages of the data center plan, design, build, operation and assessment phases.

  • Significant data center domain expertise, including data center technology research and development, as well as 40-plus years of experience working with a variety of customers and industries.

Because Schneider Electric is a global organization, it touches on a number of data center technologies. Its DCIM team is dedicated to creating a data center management platform capable of meeting modern customer demands. Founders of its DCIM solution are:

  • Soeren Brogaard Jensen - As vice president of data center managed service & software, he has headed up the group behind the Schneider Electric Data Center Infrastructure Management solution since inception.

  • Henrik Leerberg - The director of marketing and strategy for data center managed service & software has been with Schneider Electric since 2007.

  • Mikkel Dalgasb - The global director of software engineering at Schneider Electric has been with the company since 2003.

Some of StruxureWare’s clients include:

  • Tatts Group, Australia

  • Busan Bank, Korea

  • UMass Medical, U.S.

  • Mercy Health, U.S.

  • Microsoft Technology Center, France

“Data center environments traditionally rely on siloed IT and facility management tools that alienated the executive team and made it difficult to optimize physical infrastructure while balancing efficiency and financial demands,” said Soeren Jensen, vice president of enterprise management and software for Schneider Electric. “StruxureWare for data centers provides a holistic approach to managing the data center by integrating IT, facilities and the executive suite through the use of DCIM. The open and integrated DCIM solution grants visibility into business and data center KPIs, enabling businesses to monitor and manage their data centers across multiple domains, providing optimal efficiency through the software-defined data center."

Schneider Electric DCIM Solution Details

Schneider Electric is a major player in the DCIM segment. The acquisition of APC and Viridity has improved the comprehensive functionality of its DCIM solutions. There are several base software in StruxureWare for Data Centers Suite, wherein each has several modules that cater to a specific data center need.

The roots of Schneider's DCIM are in capacity management and energy management, but it has extended into several other facets of DCIM. The main base software pieces are Resource Advisor, centered around energy procurement; Data Center Operation, a suite of management software applications tracking availability and efficiency throughout the data center lifecycle; Building Operation, which provides cooling monitoring and automation at the building level; Data Center Expert provides a central monitoring portal of all of the physical infrastructure and; Power Monitoring Expert, which provides intelligence about the power distribution infrastructure.

Each base software has several modules that can be attached in 'plug and play' fashion, so a DCIM solution can cater to specific needs and grow incrementally.

With a global footprint, long history and comprehensive DCIM functionality, it is a preferred choice for large enterprises. Schneider's focus has been to strengthen its IT management capabilities, either through one of the StruxureWare for Data Centers modules or integration through open standards.

Asset Mgt

StruxureWare enables vendor-agnostic inventory management. The entire asset information is stored in a centralized data base called the Genome library. An auto discovery feature is available. When integrated with Cisco UCS, it auto discovers CPU/power utilization of the physical infrastructure. It shows real-time device failures and provides recommendations to solve them. This module is available as an enterprise or a colocation base module. This framework can run on any physical or virtual server.

Power Management

Power Monitoring Expert provides intelligence about the power distribution infrastructure, while Resource Advisor manages current and future energy procurement needs. IT Optimize is an add-on module for Data Center Operation. This module provides a comprehensive power management of the entire IT infrastructure, buildings and facilities. Powered by Intel DCM, this module enables rack-level power capping. With a real-time monitoring of total power consumption of the data center and power consumption of individual devices, IT Optimize reduces over-provisioning and redistributes power density according to critical levels. With power capping in place and no breakers inadvertently tripped, business continuity is maintained in the event of a UPS failure. The entire power chain of the data center can be monitored using 3D visualization.

The Goals module in Resource Advisor allows you to create goals and monitor your progress towards them. Easily connect projects to goals, construct goals and develop abatement strategies across an array of sustainability and energy metrics and build custom charts to evaluate progress against actual or forecasted impacts.

Thermal Management

Data Center Operation base software has modules that monitor historical and current power usage Effectiveness (PUE) values and data center infrastructure efficiency (DCIE) values to provide understanding of how much energy is consumed by the entire data center as well as the IT infrastructure installed. It provides energy consumption analytics of how energy is utilized down to the subsystem level.

Resource Advisor provides energy and environmental reporting. Through different modules, it examines enterprise-wide energy, carbon, and other resource data, providing reports and summaries. Advanced data capture capabilities deliver audit-grade information; customizable dashboards enable at-a-glance performance checks. Manage projects, make decisions, and drive your energy management and sustainability strategies.

Resource Advisor can also monitor markets, allowing optimization of your hedge position on carbon allowances/credits, renewable energy credits, emissions credits. It also forcast financial impacts

The Power Monitoring Expert base software and its modules provide an energy usage report based on metered data, allowing you to do a cost analysis of energy use on a KW/h basis for a rack level or the entire data center.

Space Management

StruxureWare Data Center Expert monitors the entire physical layout of the data center and predicts the right location for every device within the data center based on the available capacity, power and cooling options. By optimizing space, it reduces stranded capacity. It monitors airflow and temperature using live sensors and displays it in a 3D view to identify hot spots. It predicts the impact of a change and enables you to take informed decisions for planning current and future capacity needs.

Visual Modeling

StruxureWare Portal is a 3D visualization model that displays customized information of performance indicators and business metrics for a high-level overview of data center operations. The portal is configured using predefined portlets based on a comprehensive charting library. Users can easily add charts and graphs to this library. The user-friendly interface is built on the open platform Liferay and enables users to configure the dashboard. It provides the option to display data from all modules of Data Center Operation.

Hypothetical Modeling

The Data Center Operation Module enables you to make organized moves in the datacenter and reduce the risk of inadvertent downtime. Using its automated workflow system, you can assign work orders, track status, reserve space or extract an audit trail. It provides complete visibility into the change lifecycle. Before adding or relocating assets, you can identify its impact on the space, power and cooling of the datacenter and prevent the risk of overloading the system. By integrating it with BMC Remedy, you can facilitate sharing of information between the two systems.

Access & Control

The Server Access application in Data Center Operation (and its colocation targeted counterpart) provides access to server OS and BMC to enable you to control all devices from a single console.

You can access the BIOS of a device and eliminate the need for traditional hardware-based KVM. The Mobile module based on Motorola MC75 hardware provides remote access to the data center’s inventory. It enables you to work offline and remotely manage your data center’s inventory. The integrated barcode scanner identifies equipment and makes implementing work orders easy. It automatically synchronizes server locations to eliminate human errors. VIZOR is another module that brings data center capacity parameters to your mobile device. You can use any device, including an iPhone, BlackBerry, iPad or Android, to check power, cooling, space, capacity and inventory of the datacenter.

Reporting & Alarming

Building Operation includes a report generating tool that is built on Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) technology. It provides advanced reporting capabilities to quickly create reports using drag and drop features. You can customize reports or use large sets of plug-ins and predefined templates. You can publish reports in Data Center Operation that are instantly available to all users. They can be exported in various file formats like HTML, Excel, CSV and PDF. You can integrate it with other third party databases to create customized reports.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

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