Power crisis equals UPS opportunity
Press Release by Panduit Data Centre Infrastructure Mon 4 Jul 2022
The unprecedented global demand for energy, coupled with failures to invest in energy grid infrastructure, and power generation has increased pressure on energy networks to support the growth of the data centers industry. This is further compounded by the growing reliance on renewable energy. Where today, energy matching is a common solution, 24×7 renewable energy use, 100 percent of the time requires sourcing power from various producers, including wind and solar which are not yet a guaranteed constant supply.
Power interruptions from various data center failures demonstrate that when the power goes off unexpectedly, and the backup processes fail, the result can be catastrophic in business terms. Understanding the key variables and specific goals for individual data center operators or customer requirements will provide a clear decision making process to guard against business collapse.
UPS (uninterruptable power supply) is one of the key components in any environment where continuous electrical power to IT equipment is mission critical. According to MarketWatch, between 2019 and 2025 the market for Uninterruptable Power Supplies is set to expand to $13 billion, a CAGR of 3.98%. Even in countries, such as the UK, which have highly secure energy grids, they will experiences major grid failures – National Grid Outage.
Backup for a Future
Backup electrical generation or storage systems, diesel generators and battery UPSs, are the conduit to successful operational continuation. UPSs provides the short-term power to essential systems to ensure data or processes can continue to operate while the generator sets power up to offer longer-term energy supply to the facility.
The time between utility power failure and the IT load transitioning to the UPS is critical and milliseconds (ms) count. Power interruption longer than 20ms will probably result in an IT system crash, a power break of up to 60 seconds will result in an ITE restart process that will seriously affect data centre operations and customers’ applications. A lengthy outage may also incur customer penalties and reputational damage for the data center operator.
Uptime Institute’s 2021 Outage Analysis report stated, 44% of data center operators surveyed, and 59% of suppliers/vendors, think that concern about resiliency of data center/mission critical IT has increased in the past 12 months.
Improvements in UPS technology is evolving their capabilities. Rapid development of higher speed processors and storage at the server is also changing the need for backup energy requirements. Although IT applications’ resilience and the customers’ risk tolerance will dictate the capabilities of the UPS. Therefore, the data center or customer must clearly recognise their requirements before deciding the UPS platform to support this. Hyperscale data centers applications are designed so that only 1-2 minutes of battery runtime is needed, and colocation sites typically require 5 minutes of runtime. Whereas, in the financial market where even a small number of dropped trades could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds it is typical to see 10-15 minutes as the UPS runtime.
As one would expect, the longer the runtime required the larger the investment in UPS, in both initial cost and ongoing expense. In Enterprise or Edge computing environments where generators are unavailable, more time to safely and securely shutdown servers and other equipment maybe a critical requirement and will affect selection. However, over-provision of UPS providing extended runtimes, where backup generators are available, could be an unnecessary capital cost and additional on-going expense that contributes to reduced profitability.
Critical IT Load Support
It is essential to select UPS that are suitable for the IT load they are supporting. Primary concerns are the ITE running critical loads. And for higher speed processors generating more heat at the server, UPS for the cooling systems for those servers is quickly becoming critical. With that in mind another key factor in the process is the UPS unity power factor. The latest UPS have a unity power factor of 1. And, for example, today’s modular capabilities allow a customer’s 100kW IT load to be supported by 5X 20kVA, or a single 100kVA UPS dependent on preferred configuration. However, not all UPS are made equal. There are UPS with unity power factor <1.0, possibly 0.8, which impacts the UPS requirement for the critical load supported. Modular UPS components are a solution in this situation when combining legacy UPS products in an environment that is upgrading to higher power rated ITE racks. The modular capability of these systems allows for the additional UPS kVA to match the upgraded rack kW, reducing overall cost and improving energy efficiency.
Lithium-ion batteries are now clearly established in the market and will deliver more capabilities to the users as the technology becomes embedded within the key applications. Compared to lead-acid, Li-ion batteries offer longer lifecycles, reduced weight, compact footprint, and lower cooling requirements, which is highlighting its potential in small data centres and edge environments. Their capacity for higher amounts of energy in smaller devices, at a factor of between 2 to 3, with twice the life, and cooler running reducing the requirement for specific cooling systems offers the possibility of eliminating the need for separate battery rooms offering greater space utilization.
However, for the time being, the latest UPS’s deliver increased efficiency, reliable power protection and backup power for computer IT and other critical equipment. Modular systems allow for hot swapping, providing the platform for faster maintenance, and removal old or faulty individual units when required to ensure optimum capacity and immediate power is available.
To continually meet the growing backup power demands of data center, Enterprise, and Edge IT equipment, the latest UPSs provide excellent electrical performance, intelligent battery management, enhanced intelligent monitoring, secure networking functions and long lifespan for lithium units. Integration with cloud based DCIM solutions, such as, Panduit’s SmartZone™ provide support for management, monitoring, control and alerting across the wider environment including Power Chain, Environmental, Cooling, Security, IT Asset (Physical & Logical) and Connectivity infrastructure. Changing technology invariably creates challenges to reduce outages, and UPSs remain a critical element in data center best practice.