Data centres propelling UPS market

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Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru have always been the largest markets for power backup products. However, recently there has been a shift towards tier II and III cities. What have been the major driving factors in these metros, and now, in class B and C cities? These locations are fast becoming global hubs for data centres. Due to the criticality of operations undertaken in data centres, they are increasingly in need of continuous power backup solutions.

By Srabani Sen

Monday, November 16, 2009: Factors driving growth

Total capacity of data centres in India is expected to reach 5.1 million sq ft by 2012 and is projected to grow 31 per cent from 2007 to 2012, according to Gartner, Inc. In the coming years, India has the potential to become a hub for data centres as it caters to the needs of the markets in Middle East, East Africa and Southeast Asia in large extent and now the US and the UK as well.

Data centre growth is also driven by increasing domestic requirements from sectors such as financial institutions, banking, telecom and information technology. “The financial sector is spearheading the present data centre growth, with investments expected to continue for the next two to three years. There is an immediate demand from the telecom industry to upgrade IT equipment in the existing data centres,” points out Amitansu Sathpati, director, Best Power Equipment India (BPE India).

Gartner findings also reveal a significant increase in storage demand, growing from one petabyte in 2001 to more than 34 petabytes in 2007, increasing the data centre uptake in companies. The growth in storage demand has also resulted in existing data centre capacities being fully utilised. Consequently, there appears to be a need for building more such capacities.

Data centres boost UPS market

However, data centres face a few major obstacles in their development and lack of energy supplies is one of them. Metros and tier II and III cities experience power blackouts and this is a serious problem for data centres as they require continuous power supply to run high density equipment. This major crisis for data centres has come as a big opportunity for manufacturers of UPS systems and providers of power backup solutions. UPS plays an integral part in running a data centre successfully.

As the usage of critical applications like servers and computers continue to grow, reliable and continuous power supply becomes more necessary. Not surprisingly, the market for power protection continues to increase. UPS manufacturers are likely to cater not only to the huge demand for new PCs but also to the ongoing replacement cycle in large data centres. “Financial companies always face the need to upgrade UPS equipment due to changing business needs, while the demand from telecom companies is due to the rationalisation of the telecom industry. This increasing demand combined with changing data centre requirements give UPS manufacturers a unique opportunity to provide appropriate solutions, technologies and services,” explicits Arun Ghosh, managing director and CEO, Hita Technology. Vinayak Joshi, business head, marketing, D B Power, points out.

“Once a data centre is up and running, it’s just not possible for any company to avoid monitoring it at regular intervals. Not only the availability of uninterrupted power but also clean power is essential. The whole infrastructure of a data centre has to be done keeping in mind the future growth and the power backup solutions needed.”

To cater to the 24×7 demand of information data centres are adding high performance servers, storage and other equipment for customer satisfaction. As a result, companies find that need continuous and reliable power not only to operate but also to cool the equipment. At the same time, the cost of electricity is on the rise. Many companies are also trying to become green. The combination of these factors is forcing many IT departments to evaluate their data centre power consumption and find ways to become more energy efficient. “For smooth running of data centres, companies need asustainable solution rather than a piecemeal solution,” says Mukesh Gupta, director, R&D, Microtek International.

NEW POWER BACKUP TECHNOLOGIES FOR CRITICAL APPLICATIONS

In data centre product solution category, new technologies that are currently in are:

  • For SME data centres: OptimizeIT solution
  • For backup solution: Liebert ADAPT Rack mountable UPS solution and NXr solutions for medium and high power backup solution
  • For cooling: Liebert PeX DS solution and SmartAisle solution
  • For rack solution: CoolTherm for high density rack level cooling solutions (upto 35kW of load per rack and built in rack based cooling system)
  • For monitoring: RDU—temperature, humidity, photo­graphs, vibrations, sending SMS, SNMP track, email rack level monitoring solution and Aperture—end to end data centre monitoring solution

These solutions are provided by Emerson Network Power.

APC by Schneider Electric specialises in end-to-end NCPI Infrastructure for power, cooling, racks and management software. Data centres typically consists of IT hardware like server, storage and networking products. This is built upon a platform/nest of network critical physical infrastructure (NCPI), which includes power, cooling, racks, PDUs, cool­ing distribution, security and surveillance. Major trends in NCPI Infrastructure are:

  • Higher wattage per cubic inch in the UPS
  • Rack mountable solutions to save real estate costs
  • More energy efficient, thereby reducing running costs
  • Modular, scalable pay-as-you-grow models
  • Modular UPS systems that decrease the mean time to recover (MMTR)
  • UPS’ with heterogeneous network management protocols that are flexible enough to incorporate diagnostics and predictive failure analysis
  • Cooling of hot spots (not the entire room) for energy savings
  • As a technology breakthrough, Delta has introduced the state-of-the-art scalable and modular UPS’ NH Series UPS available in ratings of 20kVA upgradable to 480kVA. Some salient features of NH Series UPS are:
  • Modular for easy maintenance and servicing to improve uptime performance and reducing MTTR
  • Scalable design with 20kVA module in 3U height with capability to parallel upto 24 modules (480kVA)
  • Redundancy in any desired configuration from 1+1, N+1, N+X, 2N and 2(N+1)
  • Load bus synchronisation option: To have independent dual bus architecture. No additional hardware required for paralleling of UPS
  • High input power factor of near unity and low input current harmonics (THDi<3%) leads to savings in in­stallation cost and reduces pollution of upstream power system
  • Very high overall efficiency in double conversion of more than 94 per cent even at low loads leading to savings in electricity consumption and reduction of electricity bills
  • Redundant auxiliary power supply and control boards dou­bles the insurance towards performance and reliability
  • Inbuilt static bypass and manual bypass (service bypass) avoids any downtime/ interruption of power to the load during repair or maintenance
  • Advanced battery management to enhance the life of bat­teries. Scheduled battery test with battery replacement warning avoids undesired failure of the UPS system
  • Builtin SDRAM to record 500 event logs

According to Sathpati, the data centre sector is one of the major growth drivers of the UPS market in tier II and III cities as well. “Companies are opening data cen­tres in cities like Lucknow, Patna, Raipur, Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and therefore, the demand for UPS systems is trickling in from these cities too.”

Major revenue from data centres

Realising the growing need for power solutions most power electronics compa­nies are tapping the data centres for a big chunk of their revenue. “The power elec­tronics industry supply all high range UPS mostly to data centres and draw 30-40 per cent of its revenue from this sector. Hita Technology derives 25-30 per cent of its revenue from data centres across India,” states Ghosh. According to Sathpati, BPE India currently draws 5 per cent of its total annual revenue from data centres but it is making efforts to increase it to 10-15 per cent by next year. While 5-10 per cent of D B Power’s revenue come from data centres in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabd and Delhi, presently Delta churns out 30 per cent of its revenue from data centre applications.

Application of UPS in data centres

In any data centre more than 50 per cent of the energy is consumed by power and cooling infrastructure. Cooling and air movement alone take up 40 per cent of the total energy consumption. Therefore, designing a data centre keeping the power management and cooling in mind is critical. Based on the requirement per rack, the cooling and power management must be designed at the rack level to avoid any wastage of energy. Power electronics companies are designing solutions so that no component of data centres go without power for even a second. “The combined portfolio of APC by Schneider Electric can deliver up to 30 per cent savings in energy cost in a data centre,” states G B Ravichandra, country sales director, enterprise business, APC by Schneider.

As Deepak Sharma, country head-UPS, Delta Energy Systems, explains, critical server racks, network racks, critical lighting and cooling of racks are the major applica­tions of backup solutions in data centres. Comments Joshi, “In data centres, you need UPS with 100 per cent uptime, which means it needs to work round the clock throughout the year. But since it’s just a machine and it can fail at any time, there is a system called ‘parallel redundancy’, which means if an UPS goes down, then automatically another one takes up the operation so that no functionality gets affected.”

Power backup solutions

The growing complexity of IT environment in data centres has increased the need for reliable power and power distribution right down to the rack level. IT operations are a crucial aspect of most organisational opera­tions. “One of the main challenges of a data centre is business continuity and data protec­tion. Equipment failure, business downtime, software and data corruption are often the result of a problematic supply of power. It is, therefore, necessary to provide a reliable network critical physical infrastructure for IT operations in order to minimise any chance of disruption. This can be done by deploying modular, redundant architecture that can scale power and runtime as demand increas­es or when higher levels of availability are required,” states Ravichandra. “Intelligent power distribution units (PDUs) can also provide real time remote load monitoring of connected equipment and individual outlet power control for remote power recycling or to manage power-up or power-down sequencing of equipment,” he adds.

GREEN DATA CENTRES

Realising the need to cut costs and save energy by companies, Emerson started propagating the benefits of energy efficient or green data centres. These data centres are a repository for storage, management and dissemination of data in which mechanical, lighting, electrical and computer systems are designed for maximum energy efficiency and minimum environmental impact. Points out Smrutiranjan Das, product manager, racks, Emerson Network Power, “Emerson pioneered and launched the concept of ‘adaptive architecture’, which consists of an array of products and technologies designed to adapt to changes in technology or business environments, while maintaining or improving availability and efficiency.”

Adaptive architecture’ is a part of a broader concept called ‘energy logic’, through which Emerson has analysed the available energy saving opportunities and identified the top 10 that were then applied to a 5,000sq ft data centre model based on technologies and operating parameters. “Energy logic can help an organisation deliver a 50 per cent reduction in energy consumption without compromising on performance or availability,” says Das.

Adaptive architecture’ is a set of products and technologies designed to adapt to changes in technology or business environments while maintaining or improving availability and efficiency. “There are many benefits associated with ‘adaptive architecture’ like dealing with rising energy costs, seamlessly integrating new technology deployments imposed by power and cooling limitations, ability to increase computing capacity without building a new facility and adding power and cooling capacity without impacting system reliability,” explains Das.

D B Power has also added to this initiative of making data centres green. Along with its UPS, it sells ‘active harmonic filters’, which filter out the harmonics generated due to concentrated power requirements. Harmonics pollute the atmosphere and power is also wasted due to the harmonics generated.

According to Smrutiranjan Das, product manager, racks, Emerson Network Power, data centre backup solutions are different compared to normal backup solutions. “For any data centre, the tier level really mat­ters. The different types of tiers are Tier 1: Redundancy N; Tier 2: Redundancy N+1; Tier 3: Redundancy N+1; Tier 4: Redun­dancy 2N. Also, there are multiple factors related to uptime, maintenance, monitoring, backup time and others, which have to be considered before providing backup solution for data centres.”  Mainly, online UPS is used in data cen­tres. Based on the requirement and technical analysis, UPS systems like rotary based UPS system, fly wheel technology UPS and energy efficient UPS system are used.

Su-Kam Power Systems manufactures IntelliQ online UPS and Sinclair UPS for data centres and banking applications. “Sinclair series of UPS is our latest in the range of online UPS, which are tailored for data centre applications. It is a triple conversion online UPS with active input power factor correction technology and has SMPS based charger with charging efficiency >95 per cent,” explains Venkat Rajaraman, CEO, Su-Kam Power Systems.

Sinclair series come with both internal and external batteries (for longer backup) option. “As against, most of the UPS sold in the market which are imported from China, our Sinclair series is completely indigenously developed and better in terms of perform­ance, reliability and price,” he adds.

Whether an organisation is building a new data centre or refreshing its existing facility, estimating standby power supply require­ments is important. A major part of data cen­tre planning and design is to align the power and cooling requirements of the IT equip­ment with the capacity of the infrastructure equipment. “IT and network racks consisting of servers and switches require mandatory UPS power backup for 24x7x365. UPS draws power from battery, electricity mains or the generator. Delta NH Series UPS protects data centre facilities from power fluctuations in a flexible and scalable way, resulting in lower initial cost as well as minimised MTTR and system downtime,” says Sharma.

Data centres driving change in UPS technology

The multiplication of high density data centres is driving the need for competitive change in power backup devices. Server technology is certainly changing at a faster pace than UPS technology. UPS and UPS solutions for high density centres are increas­ingly coming under scrutiny. High density servers have power requirements of 3-5 kilo­watts (kW) per rack or 80-100 watts per sq ft. There is, therefore, a large demand in the market for these high density UPS. “Power requirement or power backup requirement depends on the density of a data centre. As data centres become more dense, heat generation and power needs become more critical. They need better technology for cooling and powering,” says Gupta.

UPS manufacturers are adapting to the needs of high density data centres and trans­forming their technology and designs as they attempt to provide tailored UPS systems and solutions. “It is a challenge for us as data centre technology changes at a faster pace but UPS systems are also coming up with new technologies to match it,” says Joshi.

Adds Gupta, “New products have become more reliable—where older units were 60 per cent efficient, today’s UPS systems are 90-100 per cent efficient—their costs have also dropped drastically.”

“While designing an UPS or an UPS solu­tion we have to keep in mind the long term success of the facility. Sometimes data centre clients are tempted to cut down initial costs but we always advice them to make sure that they don’t compromise on the performance or adaptability of the system,” says Ghosh.

Double conversion online UPS is best suited for data centre environment where equipment is very sensitive to power fluc­tuations. This online UPS uses a double conversion method of accepting AC input, rectifying it to DC which passes through the battery, then inverting back to high quality AC output. “The main advantage of this online UPS is its ability to provide an elec­trical firewall between the incoming utility power and sensitive electronic equipment. While the standby and line interactive UPS merely filters the input utility power, double conversion UPS controls output voltage and frequency regardless of input voltage and fre­quency. Under normal operation, online UPS always runs off the battery. This means that there is no transfer time in case of power fail­ure. Modular, scalable, agile and equipment level redundancies are other useful features to be considered while opting for data centre UPS solutions,” explicits Ravichandra.

Conventionally, legacy type UPS (cen­tralised large UPS systems) are usually used in high density data centres. But today the trend is to use modular, scalable and parallel UPS systems to control power requirement, explains Sharma. “Power rating, sizing and space are taken into consideration while planning for UPS solutions for data centres. Also, based on the criticality and tier clas­sification, the level and configuration of redundancy has to be offered,” he adds.

Another new technology—voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)—supports voice and data. “VoIP offers a number of benefits to organisations of every size, but it also reduces the tolerance to downtime across the network,” says Das. “When a network supporting VoIP goes down, voice and data traffic is lost. This reality causes many or­ganisations to reevaluate their protection systems, both inside and outside the data centre. A converged network requires a more robust and adaptive power and cooling system.” Emerson has also conceptualised a technology called computing usage per second (CUPS), which is an apt measure of data centre efficiency.

Many data centres are keen on adopting new technologies like the concept of extreme density cooling, that is, refrigerant based cooling. This solution offers reliability, flex­ibility and low TCO. Some of the other UPS technologies used in data centres are IGBT based 9-12 pulse with active power factor correction, high frequency based design, ac­tive power factor correction, small footprint, and SNMP along with software for control­ling the network.

Das argues that UPS technology that exists today is capable of meeting all data centre challenges but the key is to know how the technology can be properly applied. “We meet all such challenges through an ‘adaptive architecture’ that is capable of re­sponding to the changes in capacity, density or availability levels,” he says.

The more dense a data centre becomes, the more UPS systems are needed. Bulky UPS systems take up room in space-crunch cen­tres where costs are calculated in square feet. Some UPS systems for data centres have huge battery cabinets that are approximately 10 ft long and 8 ft high and take a good amount of footprint. In response, some manufacturers are making smaller UPS systems, integrating bipolar transistors on the input and outputs, along with digital signal processing in circuit boards, which have made possible to reduce size. A 225kVA unit built in the mid-1980s, for example, would be about 85 inches long. Now, the same unit would be 56 inches long or even smaller.

Usages of the blade servers are on the rise leading to high power density per rack. Legacy system had a loading of 3-5kW per rack, which has now increased to 7-10kW per rack and it is further increasing. “This puts a huge challenge on the power solution providers to come up with flexible, adaptable and manageable solutions for distribution of critical power,” states Sharma. “With Delta’s product range from 1 to 4000kVA, we can offer optimised solutions for any critical ap­plications,” he concludes.

WHAT’S DRIVING THE DEMAND FOR UPS SOLUTIONS

  • High demand for energy efficiency and optimised TCO
  • Increasing trend in digitisation of information
  • Need for flexibility to accommodate technology refreshes
  • Consolidation and virtualisation
  • Power and cooling capacity and space constrains
  • Convergence of voice, data and video driving demand
  • Cloud computing and DC outsourcing
  • Deployment of 3G networks
  • Merging IT and facilities
  • Lack of experienced staff for physical infrastructure management
Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine

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