Data Centers Risk Power Protection Meeting UPS Efficiences

February 18, 2011

By Janice McDuffee - TMC Copy Editor

Certain avenues taken in a “green effort” to conserve energy and reduce the carbon footprint instilled by data center power consumption pose a high risk of incurring IT service loss and equipment damage, according to one expert.

Shri Karve, director of business development, APC by Schneider Electric, refers specifically to approaches that eliminate UPS electrical losses—namely the function of switching between various modes of operation to increase energy efficiency—that inevitably lead to mains disturbances and outages, and an overall compromise of IT equipment protection.

Karve is 40-year veteran of the power protection UPS market and recently spoke at the evergreen data centre conference.

“The unrealistically high UPS efficiencies being quoted by a number of static UPS manufacturers can only be achieved by sacrificing the electrical power quality demanded by IT servers and by increasing the risk of unwanted source switching at a crucial moment of UPS operation,” said Karve.

As a result, data center operators should be careful in selecting the type of UPS system they select. According to IMS Research, Uninterruptible Power Supply Sourcebook released in July 2010, static UPS enjoys the “lion’s share” of a global UPS market—forecasted to grow last year to $7.3 billion.

In addition to optimum protection at a competitive price, Karve said other important factors to consider include, “criticality, UPS type, configuration/ availability, load rating/ battery autonomy, maintainability & installation/ structural considerations.”

Data centers should review mission criticality carefully to grasp the consequences of an organization when a main disrupts or computer network suffers an outage crash. In order to ensure reliable operation of its IT equipment, continuity and quality of power are essential.

Karve said, “In certain modes of operation, some 3-phase UPS provide no better protection than the cheapest UPS you can find in a local PC store. What’s more, they expose IT equipment to raw mains power – a situation that no serious data centre operator would countenance under normal circumstances.”

He added that highly complex operational mode switching may only achieve 99 percent efficiency momentarily, whil e Double Conversion (VFI) UPS are “proven technology” and 97 percent efficient.

“Models such as APC (News - Alert) Symmetra PX and Symmentra MW are modular and scalable and will protect an IT load continuously against mains variations and outages. With no switching risks, APC Symmetra provides a great deal of peace of mind where IT continuity, resilience and efficiency are vital.”

Janice McDuffee has worked in marketing, editing and freelance writing for companies including SheKnows and HBM Inc. after receiving her master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin