A solutions based appraoch to UPS investment

Power Control
28 Apr 2016

The European data centre market is booming but despite its positive growth, it has recently received its fair share of bad press. Data centres are under the spotlight for their ‘drain’ on power and utilities. Operators are being challenged to deliver facilities that not only offer a seamless and reliable service but that are also environmentally friendly.

Ultimately, the subject of efficiency leads back to total cost of ownership (TCO). A topic that has been discussed at length over recent months. Defining the TCO for a capital investment takes into consideration all environmental market factors, including outlay, maintenance and residual values. Data centre owner/operators now account for more complex physical environments in terms of sophisticated data storage, whilst considering much longer term financial impacts of their investments. More intelligent approaches to initial spending and shrewd attitudes towards forecasting TCO are evident across the industry.

As multifaceted facilities, data centres are made up of a whole host of power hungry equipment from servers and routers through to fire suppression, air conditioning and backup power. With so much energy being drawn from one central source it is important for equipment to work in synergy to achieve best performance. For example, a more efficient Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) unit will require less cooling – less cooling means a reduced amount of water used – a win-win.

UPS systems are found at the heart of data centres. They are essential to ensuring reliable clean power, delivering critical power protection against any load disturbances, whilst supporting the overall operational efficiency of sites. Specialists such as Power Control Ltd are helping the data centre industry realise their true potential through expert guidance in selecting not just the correct UPS solution but also the elements that contribute to TCO and make up the complete electrical infrastructure.

When it comes to selecting the right UPS it is essential that resilience remains a top priority. However, the industry cannot and has not shied away from its responsibilities when it comes to operating efficiency. After all, this efficiency does have a visible impact on TCO.

Forward thinking UPS manufacturers pre-empted the industry’s latest demands for ultimate resilience without compromising efficiency and have presented technologies that resonate with both. Choosing which technology is the best for a business can be a bit of headache though. It is easy to argue the pros and cons of technologies but this does not make the selection process any more straight forward.

Take solid state UPS for example – these systems have been the root of power protection for many years and where once their efficiencies were poor, advances in technology now mean these models boast ultra-high efficiencies combined with unfailing power protection.

For instance, the Borri three phase range of solid state UPS, which are internationally renowned for their power resilience are able to achieve over 98% efficiency. The Italian manufacturer has also recently released its new 30kVA -160kVA Ingenio UPS series, which has been listed on the highly coveted ETL (Energy Technology List). This latest achievement is a true testament to the dedication and focus that Borri has towards pushing the boundaries of efficiency, whilst also maintaining performance.

The combined reliability and resilience of solid state UPS leaves many with the assurance that they have absolute power protection against data loss with these systems in operation.

One of the major drawbacks to their modular rivals however, is their slightly more complex installation process, which is unavoidable due to the size of the equipment and sophisticated network of cables. General maintenance on solid state UPS systems can also be more convoluted.

Despite these somewhat minor shortcomings, which can be easily managed with a highly experienced solutions partner such as Power Control, solid state UPS are a proven technology and some of the most desirable on the market.

It is the evolution of modular UPS that has muddied the waters further when it comes to power protection selection. In recent years the term modular has been making big waves in the UPS industry and offer a flexible and scalable approach when it comes to UPS investment.

Modular UPS solutions have a pointed advantage in data centres as they deliver high efficiency at low loads; where actual loads are often much less than the “sold” power capacity.

For example a colo facility may offer 4kW per rack, but their client may only need 2kW. The colo will still need the provision for 4kW in case the client demands it at any time. Taking this example to the extreme, in a 2N configuration where the UPS will only ever operate at a maximum of 50% in normal operation, it could in actual fact be operating at only 25% and still in effect be at capacity in terms of power provision. Being able to hibernate modules in this scenario is highly beneficial and will reduce the losses through the UPS. These savings will typically be for the operators’ bottom line, or if passed on to clients, will make them more competitive.

Modular UPS systems also present reduced operating costs and easier overall maintenance. Engineering works can be quickly undertaken, especially with solutions such as the Huawei UPS5000-E series, which integrates hot swappable power, bypass, control and monitor modules, allowing them to be removed or replaced without disturbance to the load. This in turn can mean a more reliable power supply.

In addition, the modular approach offers a smaller footprint, greater flexibility, easy manageability, inherently greater availability, and scalability throughout its operational life.

A glowing outlook for modular UPS so far but this would not be a fair evaluation without considering resilience. A subject that is very often over simplified to the detriment of the end user.

Modular UPS allow for redundancy with spare modules, therefore it is important to ensure that the system is prudently monitored to make sure that there are spare modules at all times, because if all modules are in use, the redundancy will be lost and this would leave no capacity for backup modules. This simplistic view of the protective nature of modular UPS would make many question how resilient a modular solution can be and if it is worth the risk.

It is important to remember that UPS manufacturers such as Huawei and Borri design, develop and manufacture power protection solutions to do exactly that – deliver reliable resilience. Other features such as industry leading efficiency, operational performance and flexibility are all additional benefits that come with investing in leading edge technology.

Power Control is urging businesses to approach UPS investment judiciously, by looking at the complete power protection landscape, environmental factors and physical infrastructure. This will deliver a solution that is exactly what a business needs not just now but in the future with a clear TCO outlook.

With so many technologies available, it is important for owner/operators to embrace solution providers like Power Control, who not only deliver power protection equipment and maintain it but unlike many other providers, offer a total solutions approach. It assesses the short, medium and long term objectives of a business to ensure that the chosen solution is 100% fit for purpose.

Power Control’s product portfolio, which includes single phase, three phase standalone, and modular UPS solutions has been meticulously selected to encapsulate a broad spectrum of power protection technologies, which are supported by dedicated project implementation and technical engineering maintenance.

For further information please email info@powerrcontrol.co.uk or call 0800 136993