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Four Questions to Ask When Powering IT at the Network Edge

As multiple, smaller facilities without technical support crop up to support the main data center in processing large amounts of data, you need to ask the right questions when securing power systems for remote locations.

4 Min Read
Four Questions to Ask When Powering IT at the Network Edge

Brian Kennedy is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Emerson Network Power's AC Power group.

After years of IT centralization and data center consolidation, CIOs and IT managers are now turning their attention to the network edge and the vital role it will play in supporting big data and the Internet of Things. As data processing and application services move to the edge, IT organizations face the challenge of how best to achieve a level of resiliency and control similar to that found in the primary data center across multiple, smaller facilities that typically lack on-site technical support.

Here are four questions to ask when selecting a power system for remote facilities:

What Type of UPS Should I Deploy?

There are several different UPS topologies used in network edge facilities. Choosing the right one depends on how an organization prioritizes criticality and cost. While the traditional default topology for edge facilities has been line-interactive, which provides adequate protection and good economy, more enterprises are moving to double-conversion units as the criticality of edge facilities grows. Double-conversion UPS units protect against a broader range of power anomalies than line interactive units, delivering a level of protection similar to large data center UPS systems. They are more expensive to deploy and operate at slightly lower efficiencies than line interactive units, but these costs are often dwarfed by the downtime costs a double conversion unit prevents. Most UPS providers offer both line interactive and double conversion topologies sized for edge facilities.

How Do I Make Sure the Power System Doesn’t Limit our Ability to Respond to Change in the Future?

Data center managers who lived through the rapid growth in data center capacity that occurred between 2003 and 2008, know the role infrastructure systems play in enabling or impeding growth. With the rapid growth in data and services many edge facilities will be expected to absorb, the ability to quickly scale the power system is more important than ever. Power deployment best practices can help organizations select and implement the right size system while maintaining the flexibility to adapt to changing needs in the areas of run times, capacity and electrical distribution. Key to this approach is ensuring the room can support future power requirements and that a strategy is in place to quickly deploy additional UPS capacity as needed. Rack mount UPS units can be deployed faster than large data center UPS systems but still may require specialized installation support. Infrastructure vendors now offer service options that include deployment as well as ongoing maintenance to support fast, hassle-free system expansion.

What Operating Parameters Do I Need to Manage to Maximize Performance?

Remote facilities often operate without onsite IT support, and the power systems can provide a window into remote operation through monitoring of system status, energy utilization, and battery capacity. In highly critical facilities, basic power monitoring can be supplemented with monitoring of room temperature, humidity, leak detection and physical security.

How Do We Optimize Costs for Remote Power Systems?

Cost is always a factor in IT and, as edge facilities proliferate, facility managers will need to ensure they are managing edge facility total costs as efficiently as possible. Like most purchase decisions, however, driving initial cost as low as possible is rarely cost-effective in the long run. System performance in terms of downtime prevention, energy costs, product lifecycle and support must all be factored into the economic analysis. As edge facilities proliferate, some UPS manufacturers are now offering complete service programs for these facilities that are designed to increase the predictability of lifetime service costs while minimizing the risk of downtime.

Edge facilities represent an increasingly important access point between data centers and remote users and devices. The power systems that maintain continuity and provide visibility into these facilities will have a significant impact on network resiliency, scalability, manageability and security. Taking the time to evaluate your options and standardize on a system that delivers the lowest lifetime costs and the highest uptime is a critical step in the implementation of an edge strategy.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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