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Managing Your Unstructured Data

7It’s estimated that every year, your unstructured database grows by 40% to 60%. By properly managing all of this “stuff” taking up space on your server, you reduce the risk of confidential data loss and lower your data management costs. The problem that many IT engineers and data center managers have is the notion that cleaning out unstructured data equates to little more than busy work. Yet given the net positive impact that reducing your unstructured data can have, you’ll quickly realize that the ROI is well-worth the relatively small investment of time and resources needed to effectively do it.

10 Projects to Consider for the Current Year

With that in mind, here are some unstructured data projects to consider for the current fiscal year:

  • Clean out your outdated data: Start your cleanup by identifying those items that haven’t been accessed in more than three years to be reviewed and deleted, if possible.
  • Target redundant files: While there’s wisdom in backing up certain network files, many redundancies are unnecessary. You should consider finding duplicate files and deciding whether or not they can be purged completely.
  • Look for multimedia content among user shares: Among employees’ stored network files, you’re sure to find downloaded multimedia content that has no business value whatsoever. Work with employees to clear this data off of the server.
  • Index data from legacy backup tapes: By scanning and indexing any relevant data from old backup tapes using a metadata profile, you’re able to recoup the expense of storing them.
  • Streamline access to critical data: Find a way to create easy access channels to data that could be requested in the future for compliance or legal issues.
  • Manage your PII: Auditing email and your server for potentially sensitive information shared between users outside of regular corporate channels helps to ensure corporate compliance.
  • Look for hidden PSTs: Locate and review any personal archives or PSTs that users may have created that could potentially hold sensitive corporate data. This helps ensure that all sensitive data is under corporate control.
  • Implement charge-backs: This encourages individual departments to more effectively manage that data they may no longer require.
  • Find less-expensive storage tiers: For that aged data that can’t be deleted, migrating it to a cheaper storage tier frees up space for more relevant files on your server.
  • Move less-relevant data to the cloud: Hosted storage can be more cost-effective and offers you yet another location off of your server to place your older, less-useful business files.

You have every reason in the world to better manage your unstructured data, yet probably don’t have all of the time in the world to do it. Not to worry; we here Titan Power can help. As the industry’s premier provider of data center solutions, we can offer you access to all of the tools that you need in order to make cleaning up and managing yours and/or your clients’ databases that much simpler. With our help, unstructured data will no longer continue to be a drain on your server space.

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Caring for Your Center’s Humidification System

10Environmental control of the data center environment is a year-long job. Aside from regulating the internal temperatures to offset the heat generated by rows upon rows of server racks, data center managers also have to keep the challenges that seasonal climate changes produce in mind. A center’s HVAC system allows conditions outside of the data center to have just as big an impact on potential safety and equipment hazards as internal temperatures. Perhaps no time of the year best illustrates this point than at the onset of winter.

The Problems a Dry Winter Can Bring

The drier air that the winter season brings can contribute to any number problems with your equipment. These can include:

  • Static electricity buildup leading to electrostatic discharges
  • Water damage from a poorly-maintained humidification system
  • Accelerated deterioration of cooling system components due to excess water vapor

Any of these issues can lead to blown fuses, equipment damage, and the increased potential for fires. Having and maintaining a well-functioning humidification system can help to mitigate these risks. The issues you can encounter with your system will depend largely on its design.

Specific Issues for Specific Systems

Steam humidifiers fit to a building’s boiler system were once a popular choice among commercial property owners due to the relatively low cost of retrofitting the humidification components to an already existing system. However, these units can raise the supply area temperature, placing greater strain on a building’s cooling system. Wall-mounted steam canister humidifiers have become more popular in recent years thanks to their easy installation and improved efficiency in smaller areas as compared to boiler-type systems. Yet replacing water canisters over time due to mineral buildup on heating electrodes can prove costly. Ultrasonic units offer the best energy efficiency in the business, yet there exist the potential of bacterial growth in the system’s transducer water bath.

Any of these issues can be pinpointed during an annual maintenance check of your humidification system. Not only does such preventative maintenance assure your compliance to the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineer standards, but is also can produce cost-savings thanks to improved energy efficiency and the need for fewer service calls.

Given that issues with your humidification system can lie undetected during those months when it is not being utilized, it’s of crucial importance to you as a data center manager to include it’s maintenance as part of a routine inspection. Yet remembering that small task amongst the sea of larger business issues that you have to deal with can be difficult. Not to worry; we here at Titan Power will remember that for you. We make it a point to include a check of your humidifier pan and bulbs as well as your system’s condensation pump as part of every HVAC Field Service Check we perform. Together, we’ll work to ensure that your data center is safeguarded from all of the problems that drier seasons can bring.

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Comparing N+1 and Fixed Capacity UPS Systems

14Data centers are at the heart of our businesses, powering the technology that we use on a daily basis to conduct transactions, share information, and stay connected. But what happens when the power goes down at the data center due to natural or man-made disasters? To minimize the impact of power loss most companies implement an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that kicks in when public power fails. Here is a quick comparison between two popular systems: Fixed Capacity versus N+1 (Parallel Redundant) systems.

 

Fixed Capacity

 

A fixed capacity UPS is commonly used in data centers throughout the U.S. (and is the most affordable option), but is often classified as the lowest “tier” when it comes to uninterruptible power supplies. For this system your IT department will calculate the base capacity required to power all of your equipment (a critical load projection, often referred to as “N”) then you will configure a UPS that provides exactly that much power.

 

Unfortunately it is difficult to project the precise level of power that your system will require next month, next year, and even five or 10 years from now, because data center needs are constantly growing and changing. If you outgrow your fixed capacity system, you run the risk of losing valuable data. If you estimate too high you’ll pay more for a system that you don’t use. For that reason many companies today choose to go with modular or scalable systems so you can add capacity as your data center grows.

 

There are some other disadvantages of a fixed capacity system:

  • The system leaves no room for error—if one module breaks down the load is often transferred to an unprotected power source.
  • The entire system or parts of the system are left exposed during required maintenance, which could take several hours.
  • With no redundancy built into the system there is limited protection in the event of a UPS failure.

 

N+1 or Parallel Redundant

 

The N+1 (parallel redundant) system, provides a higher level of protection for your data center than fixed capacity. If “N” is the number of UPS modules required to protect all the essential systems in the event of a power failure, N+1 is a system that provides what you need, plus one more.

 

Rather than having just a single large UPS module that will kick in when the power goes out, these systems are built using several smaller integrated modules that share the load evenly. If one module fails, or you need to take it offline for maintenance or other service, the rest of the system continues to operate as expected. In the event of one modular failure during an emergency, the other modules continue to support all your critical systems. This system can also be designed with the ability to expand as your power requirements grow.

 

Finding the right UPS configuration is critical to the continued success of your business. Consider all the benefits and risks of each system before you implement one to make sure you are getting what you need

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Maximizing Surge Protection Safety

13Data centers have become an indispensible part of our daily lives, housing and processing the information that keeps businesses, consumers, friends, and family connected around the world. Downtime comes from a wide variety of sources, but one of the most common is a power surge—a voltage increase within an electronic circuit that spikes power to dangerous levels. Power surges can happen at any time, and in any data center. When it does happen you want to know that your critical infrastructure and systems are safe with the right surge protection in place.

 

The Source of Power Surges

 

A power surge can come from a wide variety of sources. In a data center, they can happen for one of many reasons on any given day, including:

 

  • Changes in external power supplies such as phone lines, cables, and power cords outside your building
  • Lightning strikes, either directly to the building or indirectly to nearby areas
  • Internal surges that come from equipment inside your data center, such as motors, electrical equipment, HVAC systems, or generators
  • Poor utility wiring, grid shifting, and power lines that are down at the local power plant

 

No matter what the source of the power surge, without adequate protection the end result is often costly downtime or even system failure and data loss. That’s why it is important to have the right surge protection measures in place.

 

Conduct a “Risk Audit”

 

The first step to developing a surge protection plan is to identify the risks that your commercial data center faces. Examine the reliability of your existing power supply, activities conducted by your power company, and frequency of lightning strikes, plus internal and external factors that could contribute to power surges. Make a list of all the potential risks so you can adequately plan for them and minimize the impact.

 

Implement a Protective System

 

The best way to protect against a power surge is with electrical surge protection. At home you plug your appliances into a portable surge protector, but to offer the right level of protection for massive data centers and account for the sensitivity of your equipment, you need a state-of-the-art system.

 

  1. Separate the wiring and circuits that supply power to your data center and those that supply power to other equipment or systems that could cause surges.
  2. Apply an additional layer of surge protection to the area that powers your data center equipment.
  3. Design and build an electrical system that is properly grounded, separating the communication cables from power cables.
  4. Create another layer of protection and power continuity with and uninterrupted power supply (UPS) system.
  5. Install surge suppression devices that can monitor power system and divert voltages that are above a safe threshold.

 

Don’t Risk Your Data

All of your critical data and sensitive electronic equipment can be lost in a matter of milliseconds if you leave them unprotected from the common, but dangerous, effects of power surges. Don’t risk harm to your data or your business—guard them with the proper surge protection today.

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Configuring a Backup Power System for a Data Center

TP-MCCD-0001Uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and other auxiliary power systems have to be carefully designed in order to provide each data center with the support required for stable, secure, and efficient operation. Just as there are many possible data center configurations there are many power system configurations. The Titan Power advisor working with your organization will help you determine which configurations will best meet your current support needs as well as your development goals. Understanding a few things about power system configurations will help you understand all the available options and make appropriate decisions.

 

Power When You Need It

 

A UPS system is in place to prevent damage to equipment and data that can result from a dip or surge in electricity or a total power failure. This sensitive system provides a stable flow of energy to continue operations and preserve your data center. Though a UPS is designed to be highly reliable, having a redundant source of power in place is an ideal safeguard for many organizations.

 

A UPS module is able to provide a stated amount of energy; multiple modules with a total output at least equal to the energy demand of the data center are required to prepare for a power failure. Estimating your total energy need is an involved process that accounts for these and other considerations:

 

  • The UPS module options available
  • Realistic load estimates
  • kVA and kW ratings
  • Short term growth and head room
  • Operational efficiency at load

 

Once this estimate is made and the number of modules determined, a redundancy plan can be developed. A common and popular solution is the N+1 configuration, where N is the number of modules required for center operation plus one extra.

 

Another very common approach is active parallel redundancy. In this configuration two power components (AB) work alongside an active center rather than maintaining standby. If component A or B fails independently then the system will continue to run.

 

Powering Complex Data Centers

Some organizations have more complex backup power needs as a result of more complex network configurations. Advanced parallel designs can provide a seamless source of power to keep everything working correctly. Duplicate data packets can be created to ensure that every request for information sent by a user receives a response. The duplicates are discarded once the information successfully reaches the user. This way the system continues to provide support for operations even when a power interruption takes place.

 

Your Partner in Power

 

We stand by the data centers designed and built by Titan Power. We can develop a power system that meets your needs and safeguards your operations.

 

 

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How Your UPS System Works

ASU-Polytechnic-Fire-Suppression-012Owners and managers of businesses with data centers need to be familiar with the fundamental principles behind these important systems. Understanding the value of backup power supplies allows decision makers to more effectively manage the data storage needs of their organization. A data center with an uninterrupted power supply, or UPS, is protected against the damage that can occur if the servers suffer a sudden loss of power.

 

You Can Avoid Costly Consequences

 

Computers that are suddenly deprived of the necessary power without proper shut down procedures may compromise or even lose valuable data. This data might be essential for various business operations or contain sensitive customer information. All lost or damaged data is lost time and money for your organization. Repairing the damage and addressing all resultant setbacks must be undertaken before normal operations can resume. Investing in a UPS system will help prevent this kind of costly loss and will provide significant peace of mind.

 

How a UPS System Works

 

A standby UPS system will continually measure the voltage entering the system from the normal power source using a sensitive monitoring element. If the monitor detects a rise or fall in voltage outside of preset parameters then the system activates. The system’s AD/DC inverter circuitry activates by drawing power from an internal battery. The equipment served by the power supply is then mechanically connected by the UPS to the inverter output. This automatic transfer switch (ATS) activates as soon as the UPS detects an abnormal voltage. The switchover from the main power source to the UPS takes place in under a second; the mechanic transfer can engage in as little as 25 milliseconds. This very rapid response prevents any interruption in the power serving essential computer equipment and eliminates brownout to all equipment served by that particular system.

 

A Comprehensive Solution to Power Supply Problems

 

Briefly stated, a UPS protects your equipment against loss or damage caused by interrupted power flow. Power interruptions come in several types and so your UPS system is designed to address all types. Power problems include:

 

  • Variation in frequency
  • Periods of low voltage
  • Spikes and surges in voltage
  • Complete loss of power (power failure)

 

Though computer equipment is designed to function normal even when powerful varies a small amount, any variation above or below certain tolerance levels compromises function. Your UPS system, its automatic switches, and other essential elements work together to respond to dangerous power flow fluctuations.

 

Discover the Benefits of UPS Sytems

 

A standby UPS system is the most fundamental of all uninterrupted power supply configurations. Several others exist, such as online/double conversion, line-interactive, and various hybrid systems. Our consultants can tell you more about how these configurations can benefit your data

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The Basics of Hot Aisle, Cold Aisle Data Center Configurations

IMG_0746Data storage centers represent a major investment for any organization. This is true in terms of the value of the data to be stored as well as the physical infrastructure itself. Maintaining this investment requires implementing an environmental control system that has been designed to accommodate the needs of each particular storage center. Overheating is a serious threat to the function and longevity of storage center devices; however, the high cost of energy has led many companies to explore new approaches to cooling options.

 

The Basics of Hot Aisle, Cold Aisle

 

A hot aisle, cold aisle approach is a data center configuration solution that uses air flow to disperse heat. Managing air flow is an excellent way to manage cooling costs through a simple form of energy conservation. Though hot aisle, cold aisle configurations have a number of variations, at their most simplest it consists of server racks in rows with cold air intakes facing one way and hot air exhausts facing the other in a pattern of alternating rows.

 

The aisles designated cold face the air conditioner’s output ducts. The hot aisles are positioned facing the air conditioner’s return ducts; they receive the outpouring of warm air from the cooling system’s exhaust. To prevent the cold and hot air from mixing and thereby diluting the cooling power of the environmental control system, containment measures have to be put in place. Traditionally containment was achieved through physical barriers. Though straightforward, this approach to containment did not fully realize the potential of this particular configuration. It is now more common to combine barriers with sophisticated variable fan drives. Plenums are part of the system’s configuration, too. A plenum is a space where air is allowed to circulate; it is separate from other spaces and is a traditional part of many building-wide ventilation systems.

 

Implementing a Hot Aisle, Cold Aisle Configuration in Your Data Center

 

There are best practices outlines that can be referred to when considering the implementation of this particular data center configuration. These standards include:

 

  • Automatic doors in the data center: These help manage air flow and temperature
  • A raised floor: A floor height of approximately 18 inches provides space for environmental control equipment
  • Device arrangement: Placing devices with top or side exhausts in their own section prevents air flow disruption
  • Rack grills with an optimal output: Select rack grills with output ranges of 600 cubic feet/meter

 

Developing an Energy Efficient Data Center

 

 

Titan Power adheres to all current best practices in order to bring out clients the most dependable data center services. Each center we design and build conforms to the very highest quality standards.

 

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Securing Data and Other Information Assets Through a Comprehensive Approach to Protection

UofA_2011_825kVA_Delivery_011-001Data protection can be a surprisingly complex subject and frequently means very different thing to the people discussing it. To business owners, data protection is important for protecting proprietary information, including sensitive customer information; the costs and benefits of protection must be carefully weighed in order to maximize the value of money spent on this infrastructure. Recognizing the many priorities that data protection encompasses can help decision makers select the right security and storage solutions.

 

What Security Measures Are Adequate?

 

Networks and backup servers have to have security solutions that work together and become stronger as a result. Security must also carry through all levels of a network and not be heavily weighted at any one point if that emphasis comes at the expense of other necessary forms of security.

 

As an example, imagine a data network that has these security measures already in place:

 

  • Rights access control
  • Finds access
  • Firewall
  • Encrypted storage device

 

This network has a reasonably comprehensive level of security at all levels. If any one of these four security solutions were not in place then a fundamental security vulnerability would be introduced. Unfortunately, the use of encrypted storage devices is not as widespread as it should be. Data storage has to be thought about from a security perspective. Otherwise you risk introducing fundamental vulnerabilities into your security system.

 

Authorization and Access

 

Encryption is a form of security that transforms data into a format that is only visible to intended users. Only users with the right security credentials will have the key required to unencrypt the data. This strategy is typically used in environments where it is not possible to prevent every instance of unauthorized access. For instance, if information is being sent through a public network then unencrypted information could be visible to anyone who cares to look. Encrypting valuable and sensitive data protects users as well as customers who expect their information will be protected. Additionally, encryption protocols can be placed on portable data storage items such as USB drives so that network users can securely transport information that would otherwise be vulnerable to physical theft or tampering.

 

Implementing Encryption

 

Encryption is a relatively low cost security strategy and will result in a much stronger core network without a lot of effort. Organizations seeking to implement encryption should choose a standards-based product with Common Criteria, FIPS, or other third party validation. These protocols are industry standard and recognized by the government as providing effective data security.

 

Implementing encryption protocols into your organization is easy if you work with a knowledgeable and experienced vendor. Our consultants can help you determine your organization’s encryption needs.

 

 

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Effective Grounding Methods in Mission Critical Facilities

UofA_2011_825kVA_Delivery_028-001Whenever a critical facility is being designed, it’s imperative that a great deal of attention is given to the grounding system in order to reduce the chances of overcharging, to isolate faults and to upgrade the uptime. The experts of Data Center Journal are here to recommend several different effective grounding methods, including corner grounded delta, low-resistance grounded and solid grounded.

 

Corner Grounded Delta

 

While it was once one of the most common grounding methods for mission critical facilities, the ungrounded method comes with a number of problems and isn’t very effective or useful for a majority of contemporary electrical systems. From the failings of the ungrounded method came the corner grounded delta method (CGD). Advantages of this particular grounding method include:

 

  • Affordability
  • A ground reference for every current carrying conductor
  • The elimination of problems associated with the underground method, such as transients and overvoltages

 

That being said, the CGD method isn’t without its pitfalls, mainly:

 

  • The requirement to mark grounded phase through the entire distribution system
  • The inability to use cheaper slash-rated circuit breakers
  • Ground fault sensing usually can’t be identified for the grounded phase

 

Low-Resistance Grounding

 

The main reason a mission critical facility might use the low-resistance grounding method is to lower the rate of damage that can result from the intense currents that flow during ground faults. This method can be utilized on low voltage systems as well as medium voltage systems. The overall magnitude of the fault current is quite large, which means that the source has to be immediately disconnected. Because of this, the low-resistance grounding method might not be a viable option for mission critical applications.

 

Solid Grounded

 

The way the solid grounded method works is it connects the system neutral in a direct path to the ground, which helps in making sure that the neutral voltage and ground are balanced. With a grounded neutral, the individual lines of neutral voltage are locked with a specific reference to ground. The advantage of the locked reference is that it keeps phase-to-ground overvoltages from taking place. One word of caution with the location of neutral-to-ground bond points is that not paying close attention to those points can result in an interruption in the ground fault sensing systems. Because of the substantial amount of electricity that can be released during a ground fault with a solid grounded system, the source of the electricity has to be disconnected as soon as a ground fault is detected.

 

For a professional suggestion about which grounding method is the best fit for your mission critical facility, get in touch with us here at Titan Power Inc.

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Vital Safety Tips for Computer Data Rooms

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Data Center Cleaning Checklist

No matter how safe and harmless your computer data room might look, you have to always keep safety in the front of your mind in order that your computer room can remain fully functional and continue to operate at peak efficiency. Data Center Journal has a few essential safety tips that you can put to good use to reduce safety hazards and avoid lost wages, injuries, medical expenses and reduced productivity.

 

The Importance of Proper Training

 

If you have employees working in your computer data room, it’s essential that you make sure they are properly trained. Require your employees to attend and complete certified safety classes, make sure new employees are either trained or accompanied by more experienced employees and keep an organized log in order to make sure that everyone is following the proper safety measures. You might also want to consider appointing an employee who is in charge of walking through the computer data room to ensure that insulated tools are being used and that the programs are running correctly.

 

Inside of the Computer Room

 

It’s recommended that you check your fire and flow alarms once a month and make sure they have working batteries. If there are any holes in your floor that could be fallen into, you are required by OSHA to install either a toe board or a railing around the hole. All cabinets and server racks should be properly secured and grounded, otherwise they might fall over during the loading or unloading of heavy equipment. If you have any racks or cabinets that are on castors, it’s best that you make sure they are castors that can adequately handle the weight that you’ll be adding to them. Since castors increase the enclosure’s center of gravity, there’s a chance that they can tip over.

 

Pay Attention to the Outside of the Computer Room

 

Make sure the exterior of the computer room is just as safe as the interior of the room. Specifically, all of your battery rooms should have hydrogen gas detectors as well as fans so that there is proper air exchange. All of your battery rooms should also have deluge shower and eye wash stations for contamination incidents. It’s important that the shower stations have a water flow alarm hat that can be observed in a master control room or guard station. There should also be a fully stocked first aid kit outside of the computer room.

 

If you’re looking for ways to make your computer data room operate more efficiently, consider brushing up on your safety tips. Reach out to Titan Power Inc. for more tips and advice.

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