In the Heat of Summer, Is Your Data Center Protected?

July 23, 2013

By Susan J. Campbell - Power Protection Contributing Editor

The arrival of mid-summer also signals the arrival of intense heat in many parts of the United States. That heat brings a need for access to considerable power to run the fans and air conditioners used to cool citizens everywhere. Without proper power protection, however, these individuals run the risk of being without when demand exceeds supply.

If a power failure occurs in the heat of summer, individuals may need to find other opportunities for keeping cool, such as a trip to the local mall or spending the day at the pool. When the power failure hits the data center, however, leaving the building isn’t an option. Power is needed to run the servers, balance the load, cool the room and virtualize the environment. A power failure means a failure on all levels. 

Image via Shutterstock

It’s not uncommon for utilities to ask the local community to cut back on power consumption when a heat wave arrives. Power conservation helps to reduce the strain on the electric grid in the hopes that the utility can avoid surges, power disruptions, burnouts and even a blackout from an overload. These risks are very real for the corporation or small business running a data center as any downtime is costly and puts the organization and its operation at risk.

This risk is heightened if that data center is run on outdated and inefficient equipment. A lack of a foolproof monitoring system is a problem, made worse by bad design and poor cooling. The VAR Guy refers to this as poor optimization. Many of these companies continue to invest money in mobile applications and social networking efforts while they ignore the data center. As long as it’s running – that must be enough.

Power protection providers need to step in and educate their target market on the efficiency benefits they stand to gain when improvements are applied. New data center designs, blade servers and virtualization all contribute to a more efficient data center operation. Inherent in today’s design are the proper protections when it comes to power so that the data center and the managed data are out of harm’s way if the power source should fail.

And such failures can and do happen when the heat wave is too intense. A CBS report in New York focused on power outages scattered across the region and throughout New Jersey. While PSE&G customers were left in the dark, utility officials did work to get power restored. For some, the power didn’t come back on until midnight. The outage was the result of simply too much strain on the grid.

While consumers can alter their habits to try and conserve energy, relying on their goodwill is not enough for the company that needs to protect its resources. Power protection is a must, from battery backups to load balancers to virtualization. Without the right design and efficient operation, one power outage could render the data center useless. That’s a very expensive risk to take.

Edited by Rich Steeves