Where Does the Power Used by a Data Center Come From?

Keeping a data center supplied with the power required for ongoing function is a more complex undertaking than many people realize. Since a data center has to operate without interruption, careful engineering is required to meet this particular requirement. While household appliances such as refrigerators are able to sustain constant operation, sustaining a data center is not quite as simple as plugging it in to a building’s power supply. The power that keeps a company’s data center operational can come from a range of sources and the inflow must be regulated by the center’s own power monitors. These monitors detect minute fluctuations in available power and will switch to backup supplies if the primary source of electricity becomes unreliable in any way. Though the whole system works together in a harmonious manner, there are several stages that the power passes through on its way to the data center.


Municipal Power Grids


In nearly every case, a data center’s power will come from a municipal power grid that is supplied by coal, solar, nuclear, or wind energy producers. The electricity dispersed through the grid is an alternating current – AC power. Though some DC power exists, converters are required to modulate the strength of direct currents before it can be put to use. However, DC energy is still likely to play a role in the supply of a data center, as we will see.


A Backup Power Supply


Many data centers include a power converter that transforms AC energy into DC energy for storage in the battery cells. These batteries provide a stable and reliable source of power in case the main supply fails or becomes unreliable. Several things take place in these circumstances:


  • The monitor detects any fluctuation in power supply beyond a certain threshold limit
  • The transfer switch reroutes the power supply to draw from the backup power source, such as a bank of battery cells
  • The normal flow of power is reinstated once the supply returns to normal levels
  • Storage batteries are recharged from the power grid or other source in order to be ready for the next outage, power spike, or power drop


Switching from the main power supply to a backup source takes less than a second thanks to state of the art transfer switches. The rapid transfer from one power source to another ensures continuous operation.


Preserving Vital Function


A data center’s power supply maintains the function of systems essential to company operations. With the right design and support services, your company’s valuable center will be protected. You can depend on Titan Power to supply the services required to develop a data center that meets and exceeds your expectations.



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Are Redundant Batteries Important for Data Center Power Supplies?

Data centers require a secure flow of electricity in order to function correctly. With the right power supply, each center will provide the performance a company requires for ongoing operations. Each center designed by Titan Power makes use of the best practices in engineering to deliver comprehensive power supply solutions.


Uninterrupted power supplies are achieved through the use of batteries and other backup electrical sources that go to work the moment that an electrical fluctuation is detected. This relay is fairly straightforward but not every company has the same power supply needs. Various redundancies can be integrated into a center’s design to provide an additional layer of security. When it comes to safeguarding the informational heart of your organization, taking extra precautions are always worth the effort.


Main Batteries and Redundant Batteries


The battery power cells connected to every data center power supply must be capable of providing adequate electricity for several hours at a stretch. Precisely how many batteries are required depends on each center’s configuration and its maximum power needs. To determine this, speak with your center design or administration team. Once these needs have been determined, the backup power supply will be configured.


There are two battery configurations frequently found in power supply backups. These are:


  • N+1 redundant battery supply: This configuration takes the number of batteries required for data center operation (N) and increases it by one. If many batteries are required to operate your data center, this configuration can be quite economical since only a single additional purchase needs made. This way a battery can fail and your center will still continue to run.
  • Parallel redundancy model: In this configuration, two equal battery banks provide backup power to a data center. If one bank fails then the other is able to support center operations on its own. This configuration is frequently used by smaller data centers and those with more limited power needs. Batteries may be stored in secure cabinets where maintenance and monitoring can take place.


Safeguarding Your Essential Information


Data centers support essential computer operations by housing servers and other vital system components. Though all computer equipment is designed to function correctly within a certain range of available power, too much or too little will interfere with operation and can even damage sensitive items. Information can be lost as a result of this damage, which can cost a lot of time and money to repair. Protecting the power supply required by your data center is a significant investment in your company’s long term financial well-being. If you would like to learn more about your data center’s power needs, Titan Power can help.


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Dealing With IT Equipment That No Longer Gets Used

Dealing with unused equipment can be a challenge. Create a plan to harvest or dispose of decommissioned equipment.


A datacenter is often a beautiful facility. Efficient data centers contain rows and rows of flashing lights and rack-mounted servers. However, the useful life of these machines can be just several years. At that time, datacenter managers must retire equipment in order to maintain the reliability and efficiency of the facility. We at Titan Power understand the potential problems with disposing of unused equipment. Here is a plan to deal with decommissioned servers.


  1. Create a List of the Decommissioned, Unused, or Retired IT Assets


Not all IT equipment is created equal. Some retired equipment is still useful for other purposes while the rest may not be salvageable at all. Mangers can do a little research to better understand the different types of equipment they are dealing with. Then they can list existing unused equipment, separating the items into groups by equipment type, age, and configuration. It is a good idea to include a basic description along with a photograph for each asset.


  1. Analyze the Security Profile of the Listed Assets


Some assets are too sensitive to leave the facility as is under any circumstances. Servers with hard drives or solid state drives (SSDs) can contain sensitive client data. Some of that data may still be required by the client. Datacenter managers can properly analyze the security profile of their assets with the help of a NAID AAA Certified partner. With this advice, managers can determine whether they must sanitize or completely destroy particular assets.


  1. Determine the Residual Value


Many datacenter managers are surprised at the value of their decommissioned equipment. However, a datacenter team can waste a lot of time trying to evaluate assets one by one. A good strategy is to contact a remarketing partner to evaluate the value of the items on the list. The right partner can not only estimate resale value, he or she can provide the costs of data destruction. With this information, managers can determine an overall return on investment (ROI) for various disposal options.


  1. Make Sure to Properly Recycle No-Value Assets


For assets that are not suitable for remarketing, contact an IT asset disposition (ITAD) specialist. They can sort through all of the valueless items that are damaged or obsolete. A qualified ITAD vendor will have e-Stewards or R2-RIOS certifications. By working through such a vendor, datacenter managers will have performed due diligence in ensuring that their unused IT equipment is disposed of in a legal and responsible manner.


  1. Create a Plan for Future Decommissioned Equipment


Design a strategy for dealing with equipment left over from future upgrades, refreshes, virtualization, and cloud migration. We at Titan Power are ready to help with this effort, in order to streamline essential recycling processes.

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Critical Steps for Relocating or Migrating Your Data Center

Even the best IT team is often frightened by the thought of needing to migrate or relocate a data center, but for many companies it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when you will need to perform this task. When the time comes, it’s critical that you follow certain steps to prepare for and execute the task appropriately so you won’t risk losing data or losing valuable time and money because servers go down during the process.


The Risks of Data Center Migration


For many businesses, the data they store is critical to the daily operations of the business. When data is lost or unavailable it can severely hamper your employees and even put your customer information at risk. As you prepare for data center migration, you must have systems in place to minimize potential variables, create opportunities to back out if necessary, and isolate information so you can contain any problems and avoid the risks of losing information and applications critical to your daily business.


Preparing for the Relocation or Migration


The most important thing you can do to prevent data loss or other mishaps during this transition is to be prepared for the event. Here are some steps to take before a data center relocation or migration.


Map Out Your Data Center: Before you move, relocate, or migrate any information you need to know exactly what you have in your data center. The wrong time to be surprised by servers, hardware, or storage and networking equipment that you were unaware of is during the middle of the migration.


Assign Specific Roles and Responsibilities: Everyone in the data center will have a critical role to play during the migration or relocation phase of the project, so have a meeting to review the roles and responsibilities of each person before you begin. If you have a small IT team and you’re planning to enlist the help of a professional consultant during this transition, make sure the consultant is included in these planning meetings.


Prioritize the Migration: Identify which servers house what information so you can plan to migrate the business-critical data first and minimize the impact on business operations.


Understand the Risks: Even if you have a perfect plan there are still things that are bound to go wrong. The key to overcoming these risks is knowing what they are and creating backup plans in case of a problem.


Outline Your Budget: Every project has a budget and in order to stay within those constraints, it is important that your team understands and reviews the numbers. You may not need to include everyone in this planning phase, but having leaders from different areas of your team and your company will ensure that everyone is aware of the constraints.


By following these steps and having a plan in place, you are prepared to migrate or relocate your data center with minimal interruption.

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Malls and Retail Stores Are Being Converted to Data Centers

What happens when that big box store that was built several decades ago goes out of business? What about malls or other retail complexes that hit hard economic times and go under? In some communities mall and retail stores are being converted to data centers and they are finding new ways to repurpose these buildings for the benefit of companies and citizens.


The Expansion of Data


As we become more and more dependent on computers, databases, and other technology for our everyday business and personal lives, the volume of data storage is increasing as well. Companies from a wide range of industries have huge data storage needs; for some it makes sense to build their own data centers, but for others the cost and upkeep is just too much. In those situations it’s beneficial to have a colocation space like the ones springing up at former retail centers.


What’s Required for a Data Center?


Data centers are unique from other industrial or office space because they have some very specific requirements. Big box stores and former retail spaces can often meet many of the specifications with expansive floor space that can be retrofitted for server racks. Retail centers that previously housed several different storefronts are now ideal for colocation or shared server sites because different companies can be housed in different areas of the building without the need to build partitions or worry about servers from one company getting mixed up with those from another.


Some of the additional needs for a data center include quality fiber connections, reliable utilities, and dependable heating and cooling systems. Fortunately these retail centers are already have many of these things built in, which can be upgraded or customized for the data center’s needs, but generally won’t require a complete overhaul.


Data Centers Make Good Neighbors


City officials and residents know that the closure of a massive retail complex can often leave buildings and neighborhoods vulnerable—when the stores fail and business move out, it leaves the area economically depressed and can negatively impact the entire surrounding area. When new retail establishments don’t want to lease the space it leaves the door open for data centers. In fact, in many cases the property owners can make more in monthly rent from a data center than a retail establishment (and certainly more than if it were empty), so it’s good for the economy and for the building. Having data centers occupy the space means a reliable tenant, regular income, and tax revenue for the city.


For many communities the choice to have a former retail space renovated as a data center makes a lot of economic sense, which is why the trend will likely continue.

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Utility Incentives and Rebates can Increase your Data Center ROI

Utility IncentivesData centers have become an integral part of every business operation, from small local businesses to major corporations. As the volume of data increases every year, the amount of space required for data centers is also increasing. Whether you are building a data center for the first time or investing in infrastructure and improvements, it is important that you know about and work on improving data center ROI with utility incentive and rebate programs.


Finding Rebate Programs


For most companies the biggest hurdle in taking advantage of available rebates and incentives for new data centers is not knowing what the rebates are and how to find them. In cities and states throughout the U.S. there are programs for utilities and energy efficiency offering rebates and incentives for reducing energy usage, plus there may even be federal programs to encourage energy efficiency as well.


Not all of the rebate programs are specifically customized for data centers, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of the savings. The N.C. Solar Center at North Carolina State University has created the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE), with support from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. This comprehensive database provides extensive information about all the state and local rebates available in an easily searchable format by state.


It includes a variety of information about rebates and incentives, including:

  • Corporate tax credits and financing opportunities
  • Personal and business tax credits
  • Sales tax incentives
  • State bond programs
  • Utility rebates
  • Rules and policies regarding energy building codes and standards
  • Additional information on programs and initiatives for energy efficiency, green power, and more


Keys to Maximize Your Data Center ROI


For many companies a data center is a huge expense, and it can be a significant drain on resources over time, but there are a few things that you can do to prevent it from becoming a financial burden. Many tax rebates and incentives are helping companies achieve this goal with high-tech energy efficiency initiatives that help reduce costs and preserve resources. Whether it’s data center consolidation and virtualization to earn rebates and reduce energy consumption, or innovative cooling technologies that reduce the largest cost for many data centers by keeping servers at a steady temperature, many companies are working to improve efficiency.


Many utility providers are also implementing efficiency programs that are more tailored to data centers, and organizations like the Consortium for Energy Efficiency is addressing the topic. Making the switch to more energy efficient data centers might seem like a big task, but overall it will save you money, lower your carbon footprint, and can generate additional cash to offset those costs through the strategic use of incentive and rebate programs.

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Cloud Data Center to be Powered by Apple’s Solar Farm

Data Center PowerApple continues its commitment to provide environmentally-friendly power to its data centers.


Apple has a long-standing goal to run data centers in an environmentally-responsible manner. Its latest project is an 18-megawatt photovoltaic solar plant constructed just east of Reno in Yerington, Nevada. Apple will use this plant to provide energy for its new Reno cloud data center that will serve Northern Nevada.


We at Titan Power understand that one of the most important components of reliable data center management is power management. There are several requirements for data center power, including:


  • Clean power – energy must not contain interference or transients that can damage sensitive computer equipment
  • Uninterruptable supply – power must be constant. Modern data center reliability specifications allow little room for down time due to power outages.
  • Power capacity – each server consumes as much energy as several light bulbs. Some data centers consume enough power to light a small city.


As the demand for cloud-based services increases, the need for reliable power grows as well.


Impact on the Environment


Energy generation can have a significant impact on the environment. Using fossil fuels to generate electricity can cause several well-known problems for the environment. In addition, the amount of fossil fuels is limited. Analysts predict we will have exhausted the world’s supply in several decades. For these reasons, power industries have worked to develop renewable energy sources that have a minimal impact on the environment. One of the best of these strategies is solar power.


Apple’s Solar Power Strategy


The Reno power plant is not Apple’s first effort into creating renewable energy. It already supplies its largest U.S. data center with solar power. Located in Maiden, North Carolina, the Apple facility produces 167 million kilowatt hours. This is the same amount of energy that powers 18,000 homes for a year. The North Carolina power plant is a 100-acre solar farm and fuel cell installation constructed by Bloom Energy. It currently provides 60% of the energy for the associated data center. Apple purchases the remainder of its energy from local sources providing clean, renewable energy.


The Reno plant will not only supply 100% of the datacenter’s requirement, it will provide additional energy to the grid managed by NV Energy. Apple has contracted SunPower to construct the Nevada solar array. Apple explains that all of its datacenters run on 100% renewable energy, and that they are on track to continue this commitment with their Reno facility.


New Data Centers Using Solar Power


At Titan Power, we support the efforts of Apple in providing clean, reliable energy sources for their datacenters. As companies plan new datacenter construction, we are ready to provide design, construction, and maintenance which will meet their energy needs as well.

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How Advanced PDU’s create enhanced Rack Power Distribution

Advanced PDUData-center managers can optimize their essential power distribution through the use of advanced PDUs.


As experts in planning, construction, and maintenance for datacenters, we at Titan Power are very familiar with the utility of advanced power distribution units (PDUs). We want to help our clients understand how to deal with the features and challenges associated with implementing PDUs in modern datacenters. Here are some of the ideas that will help a manager feel confident in dealing with these issues.


The Need for Proper Power Distribution


The market demand for data services continues to grow. With this demand comes an increase in the requirements for datacenter power and reliability. Much of this reliability depends on the functionality of the power supply system. Managers must carefully design and maintain proper power distribution in order to meet client requirements.


Plan for Capacity


A sound plan for power distribution starts with a design for capacity and location. Managers start by creating a floor plan with server units and other power-drawing equipment such as monitors and environmental controls. Then, equipment can be grouped by location, power requirements, and functionality. At that point, power distribution points can be added to the floor plan.


Power capacity level is a key design point. Managers often design distribution units with capacities 10% or 20% over requirements in order to allow for expansion without the need to replace the units. For further expansion, designers make sure that the PDU rack space will accommodate the larger sizes for higher-capacity units.


As part of the capacity plan, the cooling requirements for the output power levels are also taken into account. Managers review the environmental equipment capacity to make sure it can handle the load of the PDUs.


Evaluate the Latest Technologies


PDU technology changes quickly. With the capacity requirements, managers are ready to evaluate the technology options for their PDUs. They start by choosing among the three basic distribution unit categories:


  • Basic distribution
  • Metered distribution
  • Managed or switch distribution


The latter options allow managers to locally monitor current and load balance, either on-site or remotely. They also allow managers to perform real-time control as well as long-term capacity planning.


Detailed Monitoring


Modern datacenters must monitor their power distribution at a granular level. Often, the computing capacity of the clients is volatile and dynamic, and datacenter managers must use advanced techniques to keep on top of a changing environment. Advanced PDUs give managers control over such challenging situations as dealing with lights out operation, implementing a power cycle, and shedding a load. When problems occur, the power of advanced PDUs helps managers provide a fast response.


As managers learn more about PDU capability, Titan Power is ready to help datacenters realize their goals for datacenter reliability through the proper choice of advanced power distribution units.

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Single- vs. Three-Phase: Which is For You?

3Understanding the subtle differences between the various power sources available to you in the data center environment is essential if you hope to be able to maximize the money spent on powering your server racks while still being able to deliver the same level of server performance that’s come to be expected. The complexities of power input requirements as well as the impact that high energy expenditures have on the data center environment demand power strips or PDUs that are efficient in terms of both performance capacity and heat production.

The biggest question you’ll face when choosing which power supply is right for you is whether or not to go with single-phase or three-phase. The answer to that depends largely on your system requirements. This is when it pays to know the difference between each power supply method and the optimal conditions under which each performs.

How Does Each Work?

A single phase circuit features a single active wire and a neutral wire that connects at the switchboard. Power coming in along the active wire rises to its peak voltage flow, subsides to zero, reverses, and rises again to its peak traveling along the neutral wire in the opposite direction. A three-phase circuit follows the same philosophy, yet it never reaches zero thanks to the three active wires bringing power in from the line. Each is out of phase with the other, meaning that the input and output are constantly near or at peak levels at any given moment.

Typically, single-phase strips are fine at powering a single server cabinet with clearly defined power requirements. They are also much less expensive to install than three-phase systems. Yet servers incorporating new technologies now have the need for greater, more efficient flow. Some of these technologies include:

  • Network switching
  • Power supply redundancies
  • Blade server technology
  • Real-time load sharing and balancing

To accommodate the requirements of these new technologies, a three-phase power strip is often needed. This has given rise a general assumption that three-phase circuits are a requirement for commercial and industrial applications.

Three-Phase Cost-Effectiveness

Yet three-phase systems can also offer cost-savings of their own. A single three-phase PDU can power multiple server racks, whereas multiple single-phases units would be required for the same job. This decreases the amount of power distribution equipment needed, which reduces installation costs as well as the cooling requirement.

It’s always nice to have options when it comes to PDUs and power strips, yet an increase in options also increases the likelihood of choosing the wrong one for your data center. An inadequate power supply can take a drastic toll on your operating budget, while an uber-efficient one may require a higher up-front expense than is necessary to meet your needs. Don’t worry; we here at Titan Power have expertise to offer when it comes to making this important decision. Trust in our team’s ability to steer you in the right direction when it comes to powering your data center.

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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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