A Simplified Strategy for Managing Power and Services for Edge Facilities

Phil Aldag, Marketing Manager, Vertiv Services

The information technology (IT) landscape continues to change, due in large part to the Internet of Things (IoT) wave, the ever-growing environment in which objects have the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human interaction. According to Gartner predictions, there will be approximately 25 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, and Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) forecasts mobile data traffic will grow seven-fold from 2016 to 2021.

These trends and others are driving more and more computing closer to users at the “edge” of the network. IT professionals are asking what this means for their infrastructure power systems, especially when considering the applications that are supported by edge computing, such as point of sale, back office IT, healthcare, process control, digital recordkeeping, material handling, telephony (voice over IP), financial services, security and more. These types of business-critical applications depend on continuous power that is resilient, quickly deployable, intelligent and economical.

Power AssuranceResilient Power
Ensuring network availability among edge facilities, which are often remote or unmanned sites, starts with having the right uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Today’s users expect applications to be available, which is why ineffective power quality is a serious concern. Some UPS systems don’t protect against the most common electrical disturbances such as surges, outages, or voltage fluctuations that can be generated from such things as a storm or even an elevator’s electrical motor draw. These conditions can result in data/signal corruptions, stress on electrical components, and more.

In edge facilities where availability is paramount, UPS systems should be resilient and fault-tolerant. They should clean “dirty” power, eliminate disturbances, and have a seamless transfer to battery. A UPS that includes a maintenance bypass can also improve resiliency and help businesses avoid downtime if there are services in place to support operations.

UPS Deployment & Service Support
After determining the right UPS to support the applications of edge facilities, businesses should focus on an appropriate service solution. A challenge for many businesses with edge deployments is supporting and servicing their remote locations. Rather than straining their existing IT staff, a popular option is to engage an organization with local teams that can provide lifecycle support, ensuring proper installation and maintenance of power systems for highest availability.

When choosing a service solution for edge facilities, businesses should consider:

  • How long is a protection plan needed?
  • What costs are included as part of the plan?
  • Is UPS installation included with startup services?
  • What happens to existing UPS equipment/batteries when removed from edge facilities?
  • How is maintenance performed? Are you limited to just remote services?
  • How can the service help with ongoing facility management?

While UPS units are designed to provide trouble-free operation, having a comprehensive service solution that includes parts coverage for at least five years, in addition to emergency response, will help to ensure continuous power protection for your critical equipment.

System Visibility and Control
Service solutions for edge facilities can also go beyond simple power assurance to helping businesses increase operational efficiency through system intelligence. This can be achieved with monitoring, expert data analysis, and proactive response.

It can be difficult to see what’s happening with power at the edge of a network, making it easier for electrical disruptions to lead to business interruptions. Asking staff to manage remote power protection in addition to other daily responsibilities can not only hinder productivity, it may introduce more problems.

Real-time visibility of IT space and critical systems starts with user-friendly UPS units and rack power distribution units (R-PDUs). These components need to provide the right information at the right time in order to help minimize costly human mistakes and prevent minor situations from becoming substantial problems.

Not only do businesses need visibility and access to critical power information, they need an easy way to analyze and make sense of it. Intelligent technologies and support programs, either on site or at a remote location, can help a time-strapped IT staff keep track of UPS health, maintenance and service. The time saved with remote monitoring can allow IT teams to be more agile and proactive — able to focus on broader business objectives such as increasing overall network efficiency and availability.

Cost Management
System availability or maximum uptime is a key goal for most critical facilities, but at what cost? In many cases, budgets are tight and power protection at the network edge is an investment data center managers have to justify. Making sure they have the most efficient and economical power strategy is now a necessity. But to truly manage costs, businesses must control capital expenditures, operating costs, and maintenance expenses while also avoiding downtime.

UPS system failure, including batteries, is the number one cause of unplanned data center outages according to Ponemon Institute’s 2016 Cost of Data Center Outages report, and the costs associated with those failures continue to rise.

When attempting to justify the need for service support for edge facilities, the cost of downtime will likely make the strongest case for investing. In the Ponemon Institute’s report, there were eight core process-related activities that drove a range of expenditures associated with a company’s response to a data center outage:

  • Detection cost: Activities associated with the initial discovery and subsequent investigation of the partial or complete outage incident.
  • Containment cost: Activities and associated costs that enable a company to reasonably prevent an outage from spreading, worsening, or causing greater disruption.
  • Recovery cost: Activities and associated costs that relate to bringing the organization’s networks and core systems back to a state of readiness.
  • Ex-post response cost: All after-the-fact incidental costs associated with business disruption and recovery.
  • Equipment cost: The cost of new equipment purchases and repairs, including refurbishment.
  • IT productivity loss: The lost time and related expenses associated with IT personnel downtime.
  • User productivity loss: The lost time and related expenses associated with end-user downtime.
  • Third-party cost: The cost of contractors, consultants, auditors and other specialists engaged to help resolve unplanned outages.

Managing costs related to powering the network edge is not just about the UPS. Creating a holistic strategy for a power investment is the answer. While it is important to select a UPS that has been proven to provide exceptional power protection for edge computing needs, it is just as critical to select the right service solution to support edge operations after the UPS purchase.

Because the IT landscape is changing so quickly, businesses need a service solution that allows them to keep pace. These services need to help them address several challenges related to power protection including ensuring resilience at the edge, seamlessly handling rapid UPS deployment, gaining visibility and control within edge facilities, and managing costs.

The right service solutions among edge facilities should help businesses ensure peace of mind regarding their entire network; minimize internal staff support time and costs; save money on emergency servicing; and enable remote monitoring and diagnostics for ongoing performance optimization.

For more information, visit https://www.vertivco.com.


Phil AldagAs marketing manager for Vertiv Services, Phil Aldag is responsible for service development and sales enablement for IT channel partners. Aldag has more than 30 years of experience in data center product and service management supporting technologies from environmental systems, AC power distribution, and integrated solutions. His roles have been in engineering, product management, and business development. Aldag has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University, holds seven United States patents, and has earned multiple awards for his work.