From The Trenches: How Schneider Electric Protects EcoStruxure IT Data, and Uses It to Benefit Customers

Over the years APC by Schneider Electric has been making a concerted effort to ensure its various products can remotely report on their health, because we know it makes for easier maintenance and a more reliable IT environment. But we also frequently hear from partners that some customers are concerned about the security of data that is sent from their data center to some far-off cloud. In this post, I hope to give you fodder for assuaging those concerns.

In a nutshell, customers want to know how their data is protected, who will have access to it and how it will be used. Valid questions, all – and easily answered. But it’s equally important to be able to explain why we’re collecting data, because the answer is: for the benefit of customers.

How EcoStruxure™ IT data is protected

EcoStruxure IT is the service under which Schneider Electric collects data from hundreds of customer data centers and funnels it into a cloud-based data lake. Once there, we can apply analytics and come up with some interesting – and beneficial – findings. More on that in a minute.

No matter the exact device the data comes from – whether a UPS, PDU, chiller or what-have-you – the data is encrypted by our gateway before it leaves the customer data center. To be exact, we use 128-bit AES encryption for data in transit along with industry standard 2048-bit RSA certificates. The gateway is also designed to use only HTTPS TLS 1.2 encrypted outbound connections on port 443; it cannot be contacted from the outside.

Our data lake is hosted by Microsoft Azure, so it is protected by all the security features that Microsoft builds into its platform. Suffice to say Azure is more secure than the typical customer data center because Microsoft can afford the type of security solutions even most enterprise companies can’t and because it has the expertise to know how to use them.

Customers can access their own data, of course – again using HTTPS TLS 1.2 encryption. We also require a one-time security code, or biometric features on the access device to ensure security.

Within the Microsoft facility, only a handful of authorized employees are allowed access to sensitive areas, which means not just the data center but engineering desks, documentation centers and the like. No guests, customers or any other outsiders are allowed access and an RFID badge system ensures physical security.

Who uses EcoStruxure IT data

As for who uses the EcoStruxure IT data, in general it’s data center professionals who understand what the data is telling them.

But it should be noted that we first anonymize all data, so nobody will be able to tell who, exactly, a particular piece of data came from. Rather, we generalize the data. All data coming from retail companies may be in one pool while data from manufacturers is in another, so we can compare apples to apples.

We then apply advanced analytics to uncover valuable information from the data. The data lake contains more than 250 million data points on thousands of pieces of equipment. We can use that to accurately benchmark all sorts of criteria around expected performance under various circumstances. That helps us identify when a component’s performance is out of the normal range, and thus in need of attention. And by categorizing the data, we can create different benchmarks for healthcare organizations vs. retailers and on and on.

Similarly, by applying analytics we can start conducting predictive and even prescriptive diagnostics, meaning anticipating when a component is in danger of failing.

EcoStruxure IT: Less costly, more reliable data centers

Those are powerful capabilities and probably you can immediately see the benefit they deliver for customers: less downtime, greater reliability, and ultimately lower operations and maintenance costs.

The day will soon be gone when we rely on scheduled-based maintenance for UPSs and other data center infrastructure. Rather, by reporting to EcoStruxure IT, the devices will essentially tell you – the data center expert – when they’re in need of attention.

And that’s an important point: while EcoStruxure IT does add significant intelligence to data center operations and maintenance, it doesn’t eliminate the need for human beings who know their way around a data center. You’ll still be on the front lines when needed, performing crucial maintenance and repair functions as necessary. But you’ll have some powerful tools at your disposal.

Hopefully the next time a customer voices any concerns about using EcoStruxure IT you’ll be able to explain the various ways we keep data safe – and the significant benefits the platform brings to customers.

To learn more about how we can make your customers’ data work for you, check out our EcoStruxure IT Gateway landing page as well as our new Gateway to Getaway contest in which you can win a vacation of a lifetime by connecting your customers’ IT infrastructure to the EcoStruxure IT Gateway.

 

‘From the Trenches’ is a dedicated blog series that address what is top-of-mind for our partners today.  The topics are derived from conversations with our APC sales representatives about the questions and challenges they see partners frequently facing.

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