XChange 2017: APC Bridging The Worlds Of IT And OT

APC by Schneider Electric took the stage at XChange 2017 to tell hundreds of solution providers that the company is expanding its vision to bridge the worlds of IT and operational technology (OT), which will expand the market opportunities for channel partners.

"The key message for you folks to take away is this is a different type of APC than you've dealt with in the past. The vision … is much more beyond the 'battery in the box' company," said Russell Senesac, director of strategy execution at Schneider Electric. "[Partners] have known us as that 'battery in the box' company … What we think we can actually do is bring these worlds of IT and OT together to be able to bridge that constant gap and help to move the industry forward."

Senesac said APC can better empower businesses now through its enhanced integration capabilities, data links, predictive analytics abilities and new edge configuration tool.

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[Related: APC Living On The 'Local Edge' With New Power Deployment Configuration Tool, Cloud Management]

"We've been building data links in building power systems, in building mechanical systems, in the grid itself. We started to put those things together," said Senesac. "Operational technology is becoming more IT-related. So you're starting to see now the need for the IT piece to be bolted onto this. That's something new that we’ve done. We can actually go to the IT layer, all the way through the physical layer, connect these data links together to tell [the customer] something that they didn’t know before."

For example, he said APC partners can tell customers how to optimize capacity, or whether they should keep applications on-premise or in the cloud.

Peter Cammick, senior vice president, business development of Global Convergence, a APC partner based in Oldsmar, Fla., said more visibility into data will open doors for solution providers.

"To have smarter devices in the network that provide more data to the tools, to then be able to turn that into meaningful information for the customer – that's a homerun for an MSP," said Cammick, after listening to Senesac's keynote at XChange. "It's a big deal for enterprise customers to be able to get more information and better information other than, 'Hey these batteries are going bad and we're going to have to replace or refresh them.' This could be a real interesting topic for buyers and IT managers who are dealing with budgets."

As reported by CRN last week, APC Sunday revealed a configuration tool that automates the design of power solutions targeting edge deployments, as well as the first UPSesto feature a new capability that gives solution providers easier remote access to improve partner services related to power efficiency.

The Local Edge Configurator is a software tool that lets partners quickly and accurately plan and design custom, redundant edge solutions for customers. Solution providers can quickly design a solution including a rack, one of more single-phase UPSes, physical security, PDUs (power distribution units), and software.

Senesac said partners can become more sticky selling the new APC portfolio.

"We can provide the data platform, it's going to be up to [partners] and others to drive the applications and analytics on top of it," said Senesac. "From a partner's standpoint, think sticky. Think strategic. Have a conservation with the end user that's no longer about the RFP that they put out, but more of, 'Let us consult with you based upon the data that we have and our capabilities to tell you what the next problem you should look at is.'"

Cammick was confident that with APC's refreshed strategy, the vendor would become a more strategic piece to the IT puzzle.

"They've been a good company to work with and they protect their partners and have been very helpful, but it hasn't been a strategic piece of the solution. So it can now maybe become a more strategic piece which will benefit us," Cammick said.

XChange 2017, run by CRN parent The Channel Company, is taking place Aug. 13 to Aug. 15 in Orlando, Florida.