Your server room UPS has something to say..

Analysts predict that Internet of Things (IoT) devices will grow from around 10 billion connected internet devices today to 30 billion devices by 2020—an uptick of about 3 billion new devices per year. These devices are driving an escalation in connectivity which, in turn, has driven an astounding growth in the amount of data being generated.

Data centers and server room environments are not immune to this revolutionary tidal wave of “Big Data.” This new generation of connected devices (connected in that they are able to communicate their status) are responsible for generating this big data within server room and data center environments. Gathering this data, and then analyzing it will have a major impact on how server rooms perform and how systems administrators figure out which aspects of their server rooms need improvement.

IoT has changed where value can be derived within the walls of the server room.  Consider the rather common device known as the rack-based Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). It’s not a device that server room administrators typically spend lots of time thinking about. The administrators plug their servers into the UPS and it keeps the server room up and running through power glitches (like momentary sags and swells in the electrical system). These UPSs also provide enough battery power to execute safe shutdowns during extended power outages (avoiding the loss of valuable data). In the new IoT world, the UPS now plays a much bigger role in protecting the server room and its assets. In fact, the IoT revolution should make every systems administrator pause for a moment and re-assess how their physical infrastructure assets can generate more value – and a bigger return for their companies.

“Listening” is now the key to performance success

Modern UPS devices come delivered with embedded intelligence that allows them to communicate parameters such as device status, alarms, setting information, and environmental data (such as temperature). A failure to “listen” to this data means that administrators are missing out on valuable business information that helps improve server room performance.

The ability to gather information is important ̶ but only if that information makes it back to the administrator for analysis. Then, once analyzed, that information has to be used to generate actions that contribute to overall business value (such as lowering energy consumption and experiencing fewer incidences of unanticipated downtime). The challenge is to stay ahead of this information curve and to avoid being overwhelmed by the volume of data.

Offerings are now available that monitor these UPSs, gather the data that they are generating, and then provide a detailed analysis, including alerts, of how these devices are behaving.  In the near future, these data gathering and analysis tools will be used to improve IT room allocation of power and cooling, provide predictive impact analysis of various IT room potential failures, and leverage historical data to improve IT room performance.

There are multiple benefits to more advanced monitoring. One is the possibility of future predictive maintenance. The ability to say “all the signs tell us that this UPS will fail within the next 3 months so I’m going to do something about it now” reduces downtime and saves money.

Who would have ever thought that the modest UPS would emerge as a critical component which now directly influences overall server room performance?

The new connected UPSs generate valuable data surrounding the performance of the product (e.g., the number of cycles that the battery goes up and down). But it is the interpretation of that data and what actions are taken because of it that drives a return for the business – either in increased productivity or by avoiding costly downtime and business interruption.

For more information, download APC by Schneider Electric White Paper #174 “Practical Options for Deploying Small Server Rooms and Micro Data Centers.”

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