Yale University Power Outage Teaches Lessons in Preparedness

June 18, 2013

By Ed Silverstein - Power Protection Contributor

When Yale University experienced a power outage earlier this year – it was a timely lesson that a well-equipped research university has to be prepared for an unexpected loss of electricity and do that with a reliable power protection plan in place.

United Illuminating – a New Haven, Conn.-based utility— saw a power disruption that impacted Yale’s Central Power Plant. It was blamed on an underground cable malfunctioning. The blackout also “caused a failure in the Yale ITS servers, including the EliApps email portal,” according to a report from the Yale Daily News, a student-run newspaper.

“Unfortunately, there was collateral damage as a result of the surge that affected our network,” Maria Bouffard, Yale’s director of emergency management, told the newspaper in April.

Overall, the New Haven campus is generally confident power will remain on. Yale’s Central Power Plant has provided the campus with electricity, steam heat, and chilled water for over 90 years. The plant burns natural gas and uses cogeneration.  The university says its central plant provides enough electricity to power 50 percent of Yale’s campus. Yale also has limited solar and wind power sources on campus.

But Yale Information Technology Services realizes that power can go out. The ITS backup service provides the campus with the ability to automatically or manually back up critical files and directories.  ITS offers several many options for secure file storage. As a precaution, one option the university has is that its user’s files, directories, and sub-directories are “mirrored.” That means they can be recovered if there is a “complete appliance failure or physical disaster in one data center.” The university recommends some users consider optical storage to ensure small backups are created.

The outage also calls to mind the importance of remote power management solutions and adequate surge protectors.

Minuteman Power Technologies’ RPM Series eight & 16-Port Remote Power Managers let users remotely manage power for connected devices such as servers, switches, routers, modems, security devices, and telephone systems.

“By utilizing Minuteman's remote power management products, technicians and administrators are able to save time, increase productivity and cut costs,” Bill Allen, director of Marketing at Para Systems (News - Alert), said in a recent statement. All models can be used with Minuteman’s uninterruptible power supplies, which protect in the case of power issues.

In addition, Para Systems recently began to offer four new MMS Slimline surge suppressor models. “The MMS Slimline products provide protection from electrical spikes and surges that can be devastating to both expensive electronic equipment and valuable data,” company officials added.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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