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Choosing secure power infrastructure for a modern business

01 Nov 2008

Understand what your business needs

The results are in – with modern business voice and data convergence, the business telephone system, with its multitude of IP servers channeling both voice and data through the same lines, looks more and more like a data centre. The growth of this technology however, has created an increased dependence on it. Consequently, controlled shutdowns are no longer acceptable. Businesses rely on, and expect power system availability for continuity of service – always.

If the power stops, so does the business. Longer reserve power run times are necessary for converged data networks with IP telephony as well as system/data processing requirements which are commonly 24/7. On top of this, there are expectations of steadily rising energy costs and, continued growth in already significant business IT energy demand.

This means there is a real need for finding new ways to make backup power systems operate with a high level of efficiency.That said, it is not unreasonable to expect some flexibility from power systems infrastructure too. These need to accommodate business growth and affordability. Convenient scalability allows capital expenditure to match what is needed without additional spending on excess capacity. Power system modularity offers this and aids system operating-efficiency at the same time.

Safe and simple ‘plug and go’ in-house installation with little or no maintenance reduces operating costs, making it more affordable still. As technology advances and becomes more specialised, onboard intelligence (eg for protecting expensive batteries), while remaining easy to use and customisable to the requirements of any organisation, also become more important.

This might all sound like a wish list for the future but some of the latest generation AC and DC UPS power systems can offer all of this. Businesses should consider all of these attributes before deciding on a secure power solution, if they want to get a really ‘sharp’ solution that will minimise the impact on the business.

Optimising between an  AC and DC UPS solution

An AC UPS is the standard solution for upstream AC backup to a data centre or other business critical equipment. Until recently they’ve seemed to be the only option but they have come at a price. Conventional AC UPS’s have been considerably inefficient (typically 80-85%). Consequently, the cost of cooling to extract that excess heat to protect expensive equipment such as batteries was high. 

And most of us have heard stories of when that expensive UPS didn’t work when it was needed, or when the load was accidentally dropped during routine servicing.More recently, there have been examples where organisations have swapped out the entire power infrastructure from AC to a completely DC powered network. They have been seeking the advantages of the inherently high DC reliability and efficiency of its architecture (approximately 90-93%) for large reductions in power consumption.

Results reported are typically of power savings of 30% to 40%1 - mostly on cooling. But if you’re not ready to go the ‘whole hog’ and swap out your entire power infrastructure then there is still good news. The most advanced AC UPS systems from Eaton - the Powerware® BladeUPSTM - now boasts up to 97% efficiency on a daily operating basis when backup is not required. Better still, you can couple these efficient AC UPS systems with the high efficiency and super high reliability of a DC UPS in the total infrastructure design (see diagram 1). This will optimise different levels of equipment backup and add-on power, for example adding Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) switches, and get the best of both worlds in terms of the attributes that have been discussed above.

In fact, while the Powerware BladeUPS ticks a lot of the features discussed above such as efficiency, and cost effective modular scalability, the Powerware Enterprise DC UPS also has an impressive match to the full list of requirements. It operates with high efficiency on-line and off (which also aids extended backup), is inherently reliable by design with load directly linked to the batteries, is safe (48V), with simple ‘plug and go’ modular design and offers cost-effective scalability. These are all reasons why the telecommunications industry has exclusively used DC systems worldwide since the dawn of that industry.

Now these same benefits have been packaged for the IT sector with compact design, incredibly easy installation and automated setup. The onboard Enterprise intelligence and advanced LAN/WAN communications allow configuration adjustments for larger organisations with remote monitoring. Better still, they are suitable for in-house IT installation and require little or no maintenance. Lastly, and as every IT expert knows, it is paramount to choose a supplier with long term experience in the market. Eaton's Powerware brand has been providing secure power solutions for over 40 years and, because they offer a complete range of AC and DC UPS power systems, you'll know that the advice you're getting will be best suited to your needs.