Posts Tagged Uninterruptible power supply

Don’s Corner: Who’s Responsible For The UPS, the IT Staff or Facilities Maintenance?

Posted by on September 5, 2012  |  No Comments

Don Melchert, Critical Facility Specialist

Who’s responsible for the UPS, the IT Staff or Facilities Maintenance?

I have been asked this question many times, for all sorts of infrastructure equipment.  From the structure windows to the CRAC, I’ve heard this same question asked both before and after an expensive catastrophe has brought everyone into the boardroom.  To properly entertain answering the question, we have to approach it from two fronts: Old School and New School.  Without first defining those two parameters, there’s no way to stop the finger pointing if it all goes wrong, so let’s start there.

The “Old School” Platform

In times long ago (now if that doesn’t sound like the beginning of a new Tolkien novel, I don’t know what does) anything and everything that did not physically house the critical network was placed under the governorship of Facilities Maintenance.  Quite literally, the only exclusions were the racks, servers, telecom equipment and associated cords and peripherals.  If one wanted to relocate a server to another side of the room, powered from a different breaker, the first mission was to request approval from a Facility Manager.  Wait a second! There still are data centers out there that live under the iron rule of Facilities Maintenance, but that topic is best kept in the file labeled “Future Don’s Corner Topics”, at least for now.

If I were to provide an answer to the “Who’s responsible for the UPS?” question, based on the Old School platform, the answer is:  Facilities Maintenance, with operational approval from the IT Director. The reason for this is, originally, IT personnel focused on the devices and the network itself, and so did the educational institutions that certified the personnel of yesteryear.  This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Consider this; imagine asking a Facilities Engineer in 1987 that works in the sun, rain, wind, and snow maintaining the building’s HVAC system to log into the network.  Just speaking that way to a member of the facilities staff would have caused them to panic, possibly invoking memories of scenes from the movie War Games!  However, this works both ways.  Can you imagine asking a member of the IT staff to check the run hours on the CRAC unit?  They probably would have called security on you, knowing you must have lost your mind.  Few IT personnel would have considered dirtying their hands, and no self-respecting member of the facilities staff had the patience for “C://”.   In my answer, I said “with operational approval from the IT Director.”  If you’re not immediately in agreement, give UNS a call and we’d be happy to help bring you safely back from cryo-stasis and into the new world of today’s IT management!

The “New School” Platform

IT has fought hard for the past 30+ years to improve every aspect of network operations.  This is fact, as I have, willingly enough, seen this from both sides of the fence, first, as a Facility Manager, later as part of the IT consulting community.  Unknowingly, though, we were all working toward the same goal of efficient operations, more with less.  The UPS, the In-Row Air Conditioner, the servers, even the programs we were running…everything associated with the critical IT network became self-serviceable or hot-swappable in some way.   What used to require a shutdown of the network during a midnight to 7am all-nighter to swap out a bad component now requires little or no notification, no shutdown at all, and it all takes place in about five minutes, including unwrapping it from the box!

However, all of this new technology means two things: First, it’s easier for us to access the critical network, so we just expect it to be there waiting for us, whenever we open our iPhones; Second, all of our devices expect the exact same thing, only just like The Matrix, our numbers pale in comparison to theirs, and so does our priority levels on the network.  We, the custodians of our NCPI and its assets, must maintain this uptime requirement and now, more than ever before, the IT community is prepared, both technically and internally, to do so.

If I were to provide an answer to the “Who’s responsible for the UPS?” question, based on the New School platform, the answer is: IT, with operational approval from the Director of Facilities Maintenance.  Together, with sound communication, both are providing a service to the company’s critical network and should be able to count on each other to continually provide primary and uninterrupted back-up power to the company’s Network Critical Physical Infrastructure.  Again, if this does not make immediate sense, please, don’t hesitate to call UNS for an explanation of why this shared responsibility is so important.  The job you save may be your own!

Don Melchert

Don’s Corner: MGE EPS 3000- Does “End of Service” mean “End of the World”?

Posted by on January 9, 2012  |  No Comments

MGE EPS 3000- Does “End of Service” mean “End of the World”?

Don Melchert, Critical Facility Specialist

When the manufacturer sets an End of Life date for their product, it doesn’t mean the end of the world for your critical infrastructure.  On the contrary, more often than not, it’s a blessing in disguise.   Over the span of ten years, the way we store and transmit data has changed dramatically.  Consider this, is anyone out there still using a floppy disk?  Let’s hope not, but ten years ago, many of us still were.  Oddly enough, as is the case in many data centers, the same trusty, dusty UPS has stayed right there while the world around it changed every two to three years.

In November of 2000, the last MGE EPS 3000 UPS rolled off of the assembly line and was placed into service.  Current owners of the MGE product line, Schneider Electric, will no longer support the MGE EPS 3000 series UPS as of December 31, 2011. In essence, this means that if you currently hold a service contract, you won’t be able to purchase a renewal after the EOS date.  In addition, Schneider Electric will no longer stock replacement parts, nor will they continue to train their Field Service Engineers to respond to service calls for the EPS 3000.   On the one hand, for a Data Center Manager, not being able to have support on their UPS can cause a panic attack.   On the other hand, this may be exactly the sort of ammo needed to present at the next budget meeting that might loosen the budget enough to make some serious efficiency changes.  Changes, yes, but not just in terms of a decrease in energy consumption…that’s easy.  No, I’m talking about finally having the chance to change your power infrastructure in a way that allows a company to never again worry about an “End of Service panic attack.”

With today’s newer, hot-swappable designed UPS systems, such as the APC Symmetra UPS, our industry is finally in a position to break free of our dependency on high cost service contracts.  By design, the APC Symmetra UPS encourages a company’s I.T. Staff with minimal training or experience to make repairs without ever contacting their service provider in the first place.  After all, the UPS is smart enough to diagnose a fault and intelligent enough to know if that fault warrants an all out shutdown, or simply to issue a fault alarm to their owner.  Armed with the knowledge that their entire UPS, from battery modules to static switch assembly can be changed on-the-fly, Data Center Managers are able to scale down or in many cases, eliminate the cost of high-end service contracts all together in favor of newer, high efficiency UPS systems.  When faced with the thought of finding someone else to service an outdated EPS 3000 after the manufacturer won’t, do we really want to pay more to a third party service provider, only to be faced with an even longer mean time to repair?

The question is, what’s your time worth to you, and more importantly, what’s your time worth to your company?  An hour spent on the phone with the manufacturer struggling to get a UPS failure diagnosed and a repair tech scheduled could have been only a few minutes changing out a failed power module and returning to the myriad of projects already being managed by the I.T. Staff.  You know, the important stuff, like resetting a user’s password, again, for the third time this week…

Please feel free to contact me with any questions at d.melchert@apcdistributors.com or call 918-760-8236.

Symmetra: Highly available, redundant and scalable double-conversion on-line power protection

Posted by on December 4, 2011  |  No Comments

The first UPS with redundancy and scalability within a single chassis.

Engineered to deliver the highest level of business continuity possible, Symmetra’s modular, redundant architecture can scale power and run time as demand increases or when higher levels of availability are required. Integrated network manageability provides real time status updates of UPS health and environmental conditions. Hot-swappable, user replaceable power, battery, and intelligence modules enables low MTTR and ease of service. Symmetra’s modular design provides redundant power in a single chassis for business-critical applications in server rooms and network closets.

Symmetra with Dan Desruisseaux Video

To learn more about APC’s Symmetra line of products please contact Waite Ave at w.ave@apcdistributors.com or 1-888-486-7725, ext. 201.