Automation: Smarter Days Ahead
Imagine the ability to deploy hundreds or even thousands of power distribution units (PDUs) at the simple touch of a button — without countless hours spent determining configuration parameters and assessing application nuances. Or even, a day when firmware is no longer required on uninterruptible power systems (UPSs) because software alone will have the capability to modify, upgrade, add or remove devices.
The reality of these scenarios may be closer than you think, compliments of artificial intelligence (AI), the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. Fueled by an explosion of data, rapid growth in cloud computing and the emergence of advanced algorithms, business adoption of AI is on the rise, according to a recent survey of IT decision-makers by CCS Insight. With eight percent of respondents already using, testing or researching AI within their organizations, those surveyed estimated that within the next 24 months, as much as 30 percent of their business applications would be enhanced with machine learning.
“Artificial” is very real to big companies
Already becoming mainstream among major players like Microsoft, Salesforce, Google and IBM, AI is now prompting some power manufacturers to take note, as well. In fact, many predict that artificial intelligence will likely drive the power devices of the future — benefitting end users by reducing costs, enhancing productivity and alleviating risk.
Among the most anticipated advantages of AI in the power protection arena is the promise of dramatically faster and simpler UPS and PDU deployments. Currently, network administrators tasked with installing these devices must wade through a cumbersome array of settings and operational parameters. Yet if an AI-afforded algorithm was able to evaluate the surrounding network environment, the entire deployment process could be seamlessly automated — resulting in tremendous time savings and bolstered productivity for an organization.
Human error is a thing of the past
AI also has the potential to help companies diminish risk. Because most network administrators are not power experts, it can leave a large margin for error during the deployment process, with even the slightest improper assessment or incorrect assumption potentially resulting in costly mistakes. Yet tomorrow’s PDUs and UPSs will likely be smart enough to automatically determine their optimal environment and adjust all default parameters accordingly. Drawing on its intelligent capabilities, an AI-driven UPS might even execute critical operating decisions, such as switching power to a different source or alienating attached equipment if an issue arises in its environment.
Peeking a little further down the road, experts foresee AI-driven power protection devices being controlled by software-defined technology, which would eliminate the need for technicians to install firmware on either UPSs or PDUs. With all equipment operated from a management platform, administrators could make changes on the fly, saving organizations even more time and money while significantly enhancing reliability and uptime. Devices capable of supporting this arrangement will require built-in artificial intelligence — and the good news is, this is already in the developmental stages of power technology. The future is (almost) now.
Your UPS is like your car: It requires scheduled and consistent maintenance in order to run at its optimal potential! Learn more about the UPS LifeCycle and the steps you can take to prolong the life of your UPS in this infographic. Contact Us today!
What is Power Distribution?
Power distribution is facilitated through different pieces of equipment that take the power
conditioned by your uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and send it to your IT equipment.
Power distribution solutions can manage and even control energy consumption in smaller
environments as well as large data center applications. Distributing power efficiently results
in reduced operating costs and increased reliability.
Rack power distribution units, also known as rack PDUs, are a key component to any IT environment. They do exactly as the name suggests and distribute power to network equipment within racks. A common misconception is that they’re just power strips, and at first glance, they even look like it, but modern rack PDUs provide benefits a simple power strip cannot. Some of the valuable features include network connectivity, environmental monitoring and remote access, but we’ll get more into that later. This guide should help you get familiar with power distribution ,gain interesting insights and learn some key considerations for future IT investments.
CPI’s eConnect Power Distribution Units (PDUs) now feature patent-pending Click Secure Locking outlets. Click Secure Locking outlets fasten straight equipment power cords to the PDU without the need for proprietary accessories, allowing you to save on additional accessory costs. eConnect PDUs also support up to 100 Amps and a high number of C13 and C19 outlets, CPI’s eConnect PDUs are the ideal solution for any high-density environment. Contact us to learn more!
Which UPS is right for you?
To determine the level of protection you require from a UPS consider the following criteria:
It’s clear that lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries stand poised to deliver some dramatic changes to the field of data center uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs), mainly due to their longer lifetime along with reduced weight, footprint and cooling requirements compared to lead-acid batteries that are commonly used in UPSs today. In this post, I’ll try to paint a picture of just how dramatic that change might be in small to medium-size data centers (and, in a future post, I’ll discuss potential impacts for facility-scale UPSs).
For starters, valve-regulated lead-acid batteries (VRLA) take up significant space. This is one of the reasons why large, or even medium-size companies, typically don’t place them in the IT “white room.” What’s more, many organizations in recent years have been raising the temperature of their data center server rooms to save on cooling costs, keeping in line with guidance from organizations such as ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers). IT equipment and UPSs can tolerate the higher temperatures just fine. VRLA batteries, on the other hand, will age and die prematurely at those higher temperatures.
For all of these reasons, companies tend to create battery rooms specifically to house their VRLA batteries. Li-ion technology promises to enable a dramatic reduction in the size of these rooms, by a factor of 2 to 3, simply because Li-ion batteries pack so much more energy into a much smaller footprint. This will increase the footprint available for IT space while also reducing cooling requirements, which saves on both capital costs and ongoing operating costs.
What’s more, in some instances Li-ion batteries may obviate the need for separate battery rooms altogether, by enabling batteries to be installed in the IT room along with the UPS. This is especially likely for small- to medium-size data centers. The strategy frees up useful space, simplifies installation and positions the UPS and associated batteries closer to the IT load, which provides better protection from any potential upstream electrical issues.
Similarly, companies that use scalable and adaptable integrated data center architectures such as Schneider Electric InfraStruxure, could benefit further from Li-ion technology. With such architectures, IT racks, power and cooling components are built and tested as part of an integrated data center solution which can then be expanded as necessary over time. Li-ion batteries will make these integrated “pods” even more space- and energy-efficient than they already are, while delivering the same benefits associated with having the UPS/battery combination close to the IT loads they protect, and easily scalable to keep up with data center growth.
In addition to reducing space and energy requirements, Li-ion batteries last twice as long and require less maintenance than their VRLA counterparts. They also come with advanced battery monitoring systems (BMS), giving IT groups easy, remote access to a reliable measure of the “state of health” and “state of charge” for their batteries. And with less maintenance to perform, that means fewer non-IT people need to be in the data center, which addresses a constant concern for IT groups.
I expect we’ll also see great improvement in smaller, single-cabinet UPSs thanks to the combination of higher density power electronics and Li-ion batteries. A cabinet that today supports about 60 kVA with 10 min of energy storage with VRLA batteries, may one day protect 150-200 kVA with that same 10 min. of storage using Li-ion batteries, effectively more than doubling its power density. Such density improvement should substantially change the old knock against UPSs, that they’re “necessary but bulky.”
With this paradigm shift, it is also not difficult to imagine more power protection integrated right into IT racks, because it will take up far less space and require dramatically less frequent maintenance.
These are just a few of the ways I expect Li-ion batteries will change the 3-phase UPS landscape in data centers in coming years. I’d love to hear your take on the topic, so feel free to let me know using the comments below. And keep an eye out for my next post on what Li-ion technology will mean for large data centers and facility-scale UPSs.
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Eaton’s power quality portfolio encompasses a comprehensive suite of power management solutions, including uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs), surge protective devices, power distribution units (PDUs), remote monitoring, software, power factor correction, airflow management, rack enclosures and services. With all our products, Eaton strives for continued success in leveraging technical innovation to develop next-generation solutions.
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Would a "vintage" data center actually be newer than what you have? Check out this flow chart to see if its time for an upgrade.
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