Standards Compliance Essential for Proper Data Center Power Protection

April 12, 2011

By Susan J. Campbell - Power Protection Contributing Editor

It is no secret that data centers are becoming more complex and in the process, companies throughout the global marketplace are investing significant resources into data center power protection, security and integrity solutions. As a result, there is a vast need for equipment that has been tested according to applicable standards to ensure uptime, network and human safety.

Minuteman UPS/Para Systems (News - Alert), a leader in power protection technologies, recently issued a white paper that discusses how the design and implementation of IT equipment in the data center is being impacted by standards such as UL 60950-1. At the same time, power protection is not always assured as products are still widely available in the market that are not compliant with this standard or have not been tested against the standard.

The UL 60950-1 standard is applicable to mains-powered or battery-powered information technology equipment. This relatively new power protection standard applies to Information Technology Equipment that is installed and implemented in the data center. Included in this category are power distribution units (PDUs) in relation to overall power protection and data center safety.

Branch circuits must be protected for ultimate power protection, which means that all outlets and receptacles must be protected by an Overcurrent Protection Device, such as a circuit breaker or fuse rated at no more than the rating of the outlet. This requirement ensures compliance with the National Electric Code.

If PDUs are implemented for power protection in the data center and they are not UL certified, the company puts its data center at risk, according to Minuteman’s white paper. If a fire or other damage occurs involving a non-certified PDU, the insurance provider can deny the claim; building inspectors seeking to enforce compliance with NEC (News - Alert) codes or local or state civil codes may find the building in violation if non-certified PDUs are in place; and companies that distribute or install PDUs that do not meet UL requirements for power protection could increase limitations of liability, reductions of coverage, higher premiums or loss of insurance altogether.

While it may seem as though power protection should be ensured with PDUs that are compliant with industry standards, the widespread adoption is actually being driven by rack and enclosure manufacturers who are demanding that PDU suppliers conform to the standard. And, considering the competitiveness within the data center industry, customers and partners are demanding more value for their investment in power protection.

Those companies truly interested in healthy growth and survival in the industry will focus on compliance with standards in delivering power protection capabilities. An inability to do so is likely to eventually push laggards completely out of the industry.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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