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Eaton Pushes Partners To Engage In IoT, Edge Computing Power Management

Selling UPS technology is not in itself exciting, but bringing power management to the Internet of Things opens a world of new and growing opportunities, Eaton told partners at this week's Eaton Partner Summit.

Eaton is pushing its channel partners to think beyond the data center and look to new opportunities in power management around edge computing and the Internet of Things.

Herve Tardy, vice president and general manager for the Distributed Power Quality Division in the Americas for Raleigh, N.C.-based Eaton, told partners at this week's Eaton Partner Summit that the IT market is being driven in part by disruptions caused by a push to get everything connected.

Tardy cited the recent CES show as a place where vendors were showing connected toilet paper holders to let people know when to replace a roll, connected egg trays for checking the egg count remotely, and connected cows to help farmers raise cattle more efficiently.

[Related: Eaton's Brad Amano, 54, Leaves Legacy Of Friendship, Channel Leadership]

"The connected cow is a reality," he said. "We're talking IoT."

For now, Tardy said, IoT is still in its infancy, but early market entrants in IoT can find the edge computing resources required by IoT deployments to be a likely path to produce new UPS sales.

"You will not become excited about a new UPS technology," he said.

Edge computing is a way to move data processing away from the core data center out to the edge of the network closer to where the data is collected while maintaining connectivity to the core data center.

At the edge, one will typically find servers and appliances with a lot of automation but no IT staff, he said. Many of those devices might be expected to run 10, 20 or more years without human intervention, which plays well into Eaton's power management technology.

Eaton even now still sells products based on 40-year-old technology. At the same time, the company is in the process of switching from lead-acid batteries, which need to be replaced every three to four years, to lithium-ion, or Li-ion, batteries which need to be replaced every 10 years, Tardy said.

"Eaton enables IoT solutions," he said.

Eaton is already making the right moves to be a big part of the IoT business, said John Kuo, CEO of Neutron USA, a State College, Pa.-based solution provider and Eaton channel partner that is already helping manufacturers apply IoT technology to medical devices, packaging machines, and other products.

While IoT is still in the early stages of adoption, Eaton is positioning itself well to be a part of the business, Kuo told CRN.

"Eaton is keeping it simple," he said. "They're not trying to do a wide range of product lines, but are instead focusing on power management with a particular effort on the software. They're on the right track."

Kevin Mullin, vice president of sales at A-Trac Computer Sales and Service, a Waltham, Mass.-based solution provider and Eaton channel partner with a focus on tying IoT with big data in the health care market, said his company is doing a lot on the edge with medical devices and wearable devices.

"We're seeing customers deploy in server closets because they can't afford any latency with their devices," Mullin told CRN.

Many of those devices depend on applications that take advantage of artificial intelligence, which can be very power-intensive, Mullin said. "Those applications might require a long time to finish," he said. "So uptime is critical, meaning a big need for power management."

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