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As most IT managers are probably aware, unified stack architectures are all the rage these days, with the likes of IBM®, HP®, Del®, and Cisco® each coming out fighting with their own versions. Their popularity and success is with good reason, since these stacks make it far easier and faster for IT groups to source and deploy new highly compact and efficient computing resources.
Unified stacks accommodate converged infrastructure (CT), which fundamentally is the collocation of compute, storage, and network resources (often into one or a small handful of cabinets) and managed as a single IT asset. Whether simply defined on paper by a reference design or actually prefabricated by a turnkey vendors, these converged stacks typically are characterized by a high degree of virtualization and automated software management.
In short, unified stacks combine all the piece parts necessary to deliver a complete virtualized computing environment, including the server, storage, and networking components. They’re all assembled by either the vendor, a distributor, or partner according to a reference architecture, so what the end customer gets is a set of components all configured, wired, and tested for the applications of their choice, ready to go to work.
Or, at least, almost ready.
You still need vital supporting infrastructure around the stack, meaning things such as UPSs, PDUs, cooling, environmental monitoring, and other management tools, along with a rack or enclosure in which to store it all.
This is where Schneider Electric NetShelter™ CX enclosures enter the picture. The NetShelter CX, also known as the “server room in a box,” houses IT and networking gear outside the dedicated server room or data center – such as an office environment or reception area, classroom, or laboratory, for example. They’re a great fit for all workspaces, from small/medium enterprises to remote and branch offices (ROBO) because they muffle about 90 percent of the sound of the enclosed IT equipment, plus they’re fan-cooled, lockable, and resemble just another piece of furniture in the office.
Just as the hardware vendors use distribution and integration partners to integrate compute, storage, and networking components, Schneider Electric partners can integrate all of the supporting infrastructure you need.
Starting with a NetShelter CX or NetShelter SX, we’re adding UPSs, PDUs, security cameras, temperature, and humidity sensors to the reference architecture and giving our partners the tools to modify, build, and deliver these solutions direct to you. We also are including the option of data center infrastructure management software that gives managers at a central site the ability to remotely monitor and control the whole unit, wherever it may be.
We have several options, all sized appropriately for various hardware stack configurations. That relieves a significant headache for customers, who no longer have to source, size, acquire, and configure all those various components.
So now you literally can roll them off a truck and place them wherever you want. Within minutes, an entire small business or ROBO application environment can be cranked up and communicating with a central data center or cloud provider. A multi-branch office roll-out now can happen in days rather than months.
While our solutions can be used with any vendor’s unified architecture, we’ve gone the extra mile with some of our strategic alliance partners, including Cisco. The Cisco and NetApp FlexPod® architecture includes Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers, Nexus® and Catalyst® switches, FAS storage hardware from NetApp, and virtualization software from VMware® or Microsoft®. Schneider Electric takes all the FlexPod components and wraps them in a ‘life-support infrastructure solution’ that comprises our NetShelter CX enclosures (or a NetShelter SX for server room or data center environments) along with UPSs, PDUs, environmental sensors, and the like.
We call this solution the FlexPod and FlexPod Express with Schneider Electric, and it really does eliminate most of the time associated with designing, building, testing, and deploying new virtualized IT platforms. It also reduces the risk that something will go wrong because it combines the baked-in expertise of Cisco, NetApp, and Schneider Electric, with the power of our partner network.
All of the components and sub-systems are designed, tested, and supported together as a system. As such, we can provision, test, and deploy IT dramatically faster with a major reduction of time/resources needed to manage and maintain the infrastructure once operational. This powerful, innovative partnership gives you the IT flexibility and efficiency to stay ahead of your business needs — and a few steps ahead of your competitors.