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Datacenters Add Power Resiliency

Facebook data centerThe fact that weather events are growing more severe is driving datacenter managers to upgrade their backup power platforms and strategies.

Data Economy suggests that the goal is to build backup infrastructure capable of coming online fast enough to avoid any disruption to customers when the grid fails. In a perfect world, no clients should be aware that there even is a problem.

This, the story says, is known as “IT resilience” and is a step beyond traditional business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR). The keys to creating a platform stable enough to move to the higher level of functionality, the story says, are that architectural elements must be simplified (reducing points of failure) and automated (removing the human element, which can make a difference during a crisis). Depositing assets in the cloud is an important element of such an initiative as well.

The need is great. In a sponsored piece at Data Center Knowledge, the vendor Server Technology cited statistics illustrating the importance of datacenter resiliency. While more than half of respondents to an AFCOM datacenter survey have some form of redundancy in place, another study – this one conducted in 2014 by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council – found that only 27 percent of companies received passing grades for their readiness. While the situation almost certainly is better than three years later, a significant gap almost certainly still exists.

Finally, the Ponemon Institute and Emerson Network Power last summer showed what is at stake. The study found that the average cost of a data center outage increased 38 percent (from $505,502 to $740,357) between 2010 and 2016. Maximum downtime cost increased 32 percent between 2013 and last year and 81 percent between 2010 and 2016 – when the maximum downtime cost reached $2,409,991.

Technology is evolving that can help moderate the costs and dangers. Data Center Frontier last month discussed the use of lithium-ion batteries. The story notes that this type of battery has been a key ingredient in the electronics revolution. Currently, the piece says, datacenters’ uninterruptible power supplies (UPSes) have relied upon valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries. The bottom line is that these did the job well enough, but are “big, heavy, don’t hold a charge as long as ideal and they require fairly frequent replacement.”

The same basic technology in people’s smartphone may make VRLAs obsolete:

The same characteristics that make lithium-ion batteries such an appealing choice for electronics are driving a sea change of sorts in the data center. Industry innovators, such as Forsythe Data Centers near Chicago, have started using lithium-ion batteries with tremendous success – measured by cost savings, space savings and increased reliability.

The piece was written by Vertiv’s Peter Panfil. He says that a change to lithium ion approaches will take time. VRLAs have done the job for years and don’t need to be replaced immediately.

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