Data centre operators naturally want the highest possible availability for their facility. However, achieving the best that’s technically possible will be beyond most organisations’ budgets – and in any case, won’t even be necessary. For example, an enterprise that depends on real-time sales of goods from their web store has a far more critical need for data centre availability than a bricks and mortar business without the same online dependency.
So how do data centre planners deploy equipment like UPS systems to achieve the level of availability that best balances their business resiliency needs and their budget? And how can they compare it to industry norms when all installations of UPS power supplies are unique?
The Uptime Institute’s Tier Classification System exists to answer these questions. It provides the data centre industry with a consistent method to compare typically unique, customised facilities based on expected site infrastructure performance, or uptime. Furthermore, the Tiers enable companies to align their data centre infrastructure investment with business goals specific to growth and technology strategies.
The system defines the requirements and benefits of four distinct Tier classifications for data centre infrastructure. Each Tier aligns with a specific function in the business world and sets the appropriate criteria for power, cooling, maintenance, and capability to withstand a fault. Tiers are progressive; each Tier incorporates the requirements of all the lower Tiers.
Tier I and Tier II are tactical data centre solutions, usually driven by first-cost and time-to-market more than life-cycle cost and performance (uptime) requirements. Rigorous uptime requirements and long-term viability are usually the reason for selecting strategic data centre solutions found in Tier III and Tier IV site infrastructure.
The role of an uninterrupted power supply
UPS power supplies and how they’re deployed form part of every Tier level. Accordingly, Kohler Uninterruptible Power’s (KUP’s) Sales Engineers take a consultative, fact-finding approach to help their customers find the most appropriate uninterruptible power supplies for their data centre operations and business model. They find that an informal conversation often helps in uncovering aspects that are not immediately obvious, yet important for the final UPS system design. In one example, a small bank’s basement IT room turned out to be performing a highly critical role, as it supported a large nationwide network of branches.
This showed that a server room or data centre’s size and criticality are not necessarily related. In any case, the engineers discuss the nature of the business, in terms of its criticality and a corresponding level of redundancy for the uninterruptible power supplies and power delivery paths. The site load, in terms of its current size and expected future growth – typically for a five-year power protection plan – is also considered.
Load estimation can include onsite measurements as well as customer feedback on their experience, and appraisals of the installed UPS power equipment and its stated power requirement. The uninterrupted power supply intake can be monitored for two weeks to determine power quality and incidence of spikes, as well as load size (and power factor). Meanwhile, a tour of the facility will reveal how the equipment and loads are distributed. It can also identify suitable locations for UPS systems, allowing access for installation, care and maintenance of UPS power supplies, impact on nearby staff, and ease of cooling.
There will also be a detailed discussion on the length of UPS battery autonomy required. On a site that has backup generators, a few minutes to allow the standby generators to start up and synchronise may be sufficient. Elsewhere, an extended UPS battery autonomy calculation may be necessary to keep the operation running. Some less-critical sites may simply use the autonomy to allow their ICT systems to shut down gracefully.
Kohler Uninterruptible Power often reminds its customers of the importance of external bypass switches. This is highlighted by the experience of some data centres that own eight to twelve-year servers that they dare not switch off, as they may never reboot again.
A customer’s industry is also relevant. Healthcare estates and railways, for example, have industry-specific legislation applicable to their power infrastructures, while colocation data centres must comply with specific insurance guidelines.
Choosing appropriate industrial uninterruptible power supply solutions is complex, as the choice must allow for the user’s business model and resiliency needs as well as their site conditions. Accordingly, an in-depth discussion with an experienced supplier s of UPS systems like KUP will pay dividends. Their experience, which equips them to explore the relevant issues, is backed by the know-how and the power protection products needed to implement an appropriate UPS power solution – one that optimally balances budgetary compliance against the reliability of power protection.
If you’re looking for expert advice on choosing a UPS system or a UPS maintenance service in Singapore, call our specialist UPS servicing and sales team today at +65 6302 0702 or email [email protected].