Jul 7, 2020

Hauwei confident in the future of hyperscale

data centre
edge computing
Harry Menear
5 min
The past year (and the next few to come) present potentially troubling outlooks, both for Chinese tech giant Huawei and the hyperscale data centre...

Huawei is under siege. Ever since the ignition of China’s ongoing trade war with the United States, Huawei has found itself in the firing line. The firm has laboured on the US’ blacklist in some capacity since 2012, and a recent round of sanctions from European nations are threatening its position as a 5G leader (or even a competitor) in the West. The UK government has announced that sanctions against Huawei could range from limited market share and exclusion from core 5G developments, to complete ostracisation from the country. France recently did something similar; the country’s cybersecurity agency, ANNSI, said this week that there would not be a total ban on using equipment from Chinese technology giant Huawei in the roll-out of France's 5G telecommunications network, but that it was urging French firms to avoid using the company.

Huawei's intrinsic ties to the PRC government, and its ongoing status as high-risk for Chinese interference has effectively sidelined it on the global stage. Despite its status as a security risk, the company continues to do vast amounts of business across Asia, and is constantly working to buy its way back into Western market by dint of its indispensable sensor and communications technology. 

The uncertain future of the hyperscale data centre

At the same time, the global data centre market which, for the last five years, has charged headlong towards a future where network architecture is centred around hyperscale hubs in major urban areas, finds itself experiencing another sea change. Hyperscale data centres started cropping up over the last decade as a way of dealing with the massive data boom. 

Classified as any facility with more than 5,000 servers and 10,000 square feet of floor space, hyperscale data centres hit new peaks in 2018, with the total number of these facilities increasing to 430, up 11% from the previous year. These colocated hyperscale facilities were expected to almost completely replace the enterprise-owned data centre. In a blog post titled 'The Data Center is Dead', Gartner Research VP Dave Cappuccio wrote that Gartner predicts that, by 2025, 80% of enterprises will shutter their traditional data centers as part of a mass migration to the cloud. 

Around the same time, a Cisco report predicted that the worldwide enterprise data load would migrate to a tiny number of managed hyperscale cloud data centres. They predicted that around 600 hyperscale facilities would end up containing more than 65% of the world’s data. 

The reality may well be somewhat different. 

The shifting balance

Due largely to advancements in the internet of things (IoT), both the volume of data being generated around the world and the ways in which that data is being produced are radically changing. Previously, the flow of data largely went from the data centre into the enterprise. Now, thanks to vast amounts of information being generated by machine-to-machine systems, that current has reversed, and threatens to slow processing across networks, right as tech applications like autonomous vehicles and telemedicine demand lower latency than before. “A single (autonomous) test vehicle can generate petabytes of data annually. Capturing, managing and processing this massive amount of data requires an entirely new computing architecture and infrastructure,” notes a report by Nvidia, from 2018. 

“As nearly everyone and everything gets connected, the data that is required to function in the digital world risks being congested in the core or, even worse, caught up in large-scale cyber attacks,” commented Tom Leighton, CEO of Akamai. In response, smaller, distributed networks of edge data centres have begun springing up, in order to avoid latency issues associated with centralised architecture. However, this doesn’t mean that the hyperscale centre is about to die out. As with most seemingly opposed technologies, the true way forward lies in a balance between the two. 

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, notes that, “…we don’t think of hybrid as a stopgap as a move to the Cloud. We think about it as the coming together or distributed computing, where the Cloud and edge computing work together, not just for old workloads, but most importantly for new workloads.”

Huawei still confident in the future role of hyperscale

Which brings us to Huawei. The company held a webinar this week to examine the future of data centres and their relationship with key evolving technologies like AI and cloud computing. The event was hosted by Huawei Global DC Facility Business SVP and CTO Sanjai Sainani, who believes that the demand for hyperscale data centres will continue to grow and be fueled by developments in AI and cloud computing. 

He continued: “Hyperscalers will require much higher power, exerting great pressure on systems. This will push for the adoption of a more standardised, prefabricated, and replicable architecture of future data centers.” He added that modularity, flexibility, power efficiency and predictive maintenance will all play a key role in successfully scaling and maintaining the industry. 

Next, Huawei related these predictions to its own efforts at supporting increased modularity in the hyperscale data centre market: Huawei’s FusionDC 2.0 solution, which is based on an ABCD approach to fusion: AI fusion, building fusion, component fusion, and digital fusion.

Version 2.0 uses smart modular fan walls to reshape the data centre cooling system. It also adopts a power system with FusionPower 2.0 and SmartLi solutions.

According to Huawei, this approach aims to standardize prefabricated modular technology and accelerates the data center deployment. It also provides future-oriented and elastic architecture to help the DC respond to power density evolution.

The Huawei FusionDC 2.0 solution also integrates AI technologies, iPower, iCooling and iManager, as well as prefabricated modular building technologies. All modules are prefabricated and pre-commissioned before delivery, which simplify on-site work and shorten the delivery time by 50%. “FusionDC 2.0 helps customers build a simple, sturdy, smart, scalable and saving data center,” added Sainani. 

With Huawei's role in so many aspects of the global communications and IT sector uncertain, its investment in the future of the hyperscale data centre betrays significant confidence in the future of the industry. 

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Jun 20, 2021

Schneider Electric reveals new IT Innovation report

3 min
Schneider Electric has released the Digital Economy and Climate Impact report revealing new innovations for sustainability and resiliency in data centres

Schneider Electric has released a new IT innovations report titled “Digital Economy and Climate Impact”, with the aim of gaining an understanding of how digitised and smart applications will be powered in the future. The company says that the report predicts that IT sector-related electricity demand is expected to increase by almost 50% by 2030. 

Despite this, the report also shows that emissions would not increase by more than 26% by the same year, following the decarbonisation of the electricity system. In an attempt to reduce this rise in emissions the Schneider Electric TM Sustainability Research Institute recommends continued efforts in achieving efficiencies on the IT and energy sides at both the component and system levels. 

The report highlights how the rise of edge computing technologies require a “specific focus” due to these systems being less efficient than hyperscale data centres. “When the world locked down, it also logged on and internet traffic soared,” said Pankaj Sharma, EVP, Secure Power, Schneider Electric. 

“It’s misleading to assume that digital activity will inevitably result in a deeply problematic increase in CO2 emissions. The analysis from the Schneider Electric Sustainability Institute puts to rest many of the worst-case scenario claims predicting IT-related electricity use will double every five years. That said, as an industry, we must remain vigilant in finding new sources of sustainability gains while ensuring resiliency as digital keeps life moving forward”, he added. 

As well as the release of the report, Schneider Electric also announced several updates to its EcoStruxure IT data center infrastructure management software, Galaxy VL 3-phase uninterruptable power supply (UPS), introducing an industry-leading single-phase UPS, the APC™ Smart-UPS™ Ultra. All introductions are designed to advance the industry forward in meeting sustainability goals while increasing the resiliency of IT and data centre infrastructure, the company said. 

Managing hybrid data center and edge IT environments

Also showcased in Schneider Electric’s report are the increasing demands on digital consumption. According to the company, these create a more complex hybrid environment inclusive of enterprise, cloud, and edge data centres. Addressing the unique management challenges of a hybrid IT environment, Schneider Electric has announced updates to its EcoStruxure IT software to increase efficiency and resiliency, including:

  • Increased remote management capabilities: New granular remote device configuration features enable users to change configurations on one or more devices – including the new Galaxy VL and APC Smart-UPS Ultra single-phase UPS units – from one centralised platform with EcoStruxure IT Expert. This update, combined with previously released software insights on device security health, enables the user to identify faulty devices or configurations and address them in a matter of clicks, keeping their hybrid IT environment secure.
  • Improved environmental monitoring: Environmental monitoring systems ensure users have eyes and ears on data centre and IT deployments from anywhere, anytime. With this update, users can push mass configurations remotely for NetBotz cameras 750 and 755 quickly and efficiently increasing security across the critical infrastructure.
  • Enhanced remote capacity modeling and planning: With EcoStruxure IT Advisor’s new capabilities, users can remotely compare an unlimited number of racks and easily identify available capacity, view what assets are deployed and their dependencies.

Sharma concluded: “Schneider Electric has been focused on sustainability for the past 15 years and was recently named the most sustainable corporation in the world. We have embraced the mindset that future innovation will deliver better efficiency across the broader connectivity landscape. By making smart intentional choices, our industry can help mitigate how much electricity and emissions result from the rising appetite for digital technologies”.

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