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Difference between Real, Reactive and Apparent Power

Do you know the difference between VA and watts? It is important to understand the different types of power in order to achieve efficiencies with all of your electronic and computer room/data center equipment.

 

One of the easier ways to describe power is to break it down into types – Real power, Reactive power, and Apparent power. Real power is the portion of power flow that results in the consumption of energy, and it is measured in Watts. Reactive Power is measured in or volt-amps reactive, or VAR, and in a UPS spec is referred to as the Power Factor. This Power Factor is very important to the efficiency of the UPS, as it affects power costs, power losses, and overall effectiveness of the system.

 

To learn more about the types of power, see our latest video post here. It describes in a little more detail the types of power and and how they affect your UPS system in a computer room environment. The video even has a fun beer analogy to help demonstrate the differences. Cheers to that!

Posted in Back-up Power Industry, Titan Power, Titan Power Videos, Uninterruptible Power Supply | Comments Off

Prevent Data Center Downtime With Generator Load Bank Testing

Ensuring an uninterrupted supply of power is an essential task for anyone running a data center. Power disruption can have various negative outcomes, from downtime to data loss. Given these risks, it is not surprising that back-up generators are standard features in data centers. Still, generators that are untested or poorly maintained can prove ineffective or useless when they are needed most. We at Titan Power are all too familiar with this problem, which is why we recommend regular load bank testing of backup generators. This is a crucial service for any data facility that needs to ensure consistent performance and protect against worst-case scenarios.

 

How Load Bank Testing Works

 

The goal of load bank testing is to place peak power demand on a generator and then determine whether the generator can produce and maintain the necessary kilowatt output. A load bank is a device that can create an electrical load and pass it on to the generator in a steady and controlled manner. This presents a useful alternative to the load that real-life power demand creates, which often fluctuates chaotically.

 

During load bank testing, the load device is typically placed within 20 meters of the generator and connected to it via cable. During the two-hour test, various measurements of the generator and its output are taken to yield insights into performance. These insights include:

 

  • Whether the system can provide the necessary amount of power
  • How efficiently the system functions at different load capacities
  • Whether the generator can maintain a stable voltage throughout the test
  • What levels the oil and fuel pressure reach

 

There are several types of load banks that can be used to perform this test, including resistive, capacitive, and inductive. When especially high-voltage loads must be produced, reactive load banks — which use inductive or capacitive loading or a combination of the two — are typically used to deliver the necessary load. We generally use resistive or reactive load banks, depending on each generator’s maximum power output.

 

A Controlled Environment and Useful Data

 

Although a basic test of a standby generator’s capabilities occurs any time that a data center’s power fails, load bank testing offers a few advantages. The data collected during load bank testing can provide a precise, carefully measured, and more comprehensive look at the generator’s ability to perform as needed. Additionally, this testing provides a controlled environment in which common risks associated with generator overload or failure — such as harm to other system components and business disruption, to name a few — can be effectively mitigated.

 

Proper load bank testing is an invaluable resource because it provides an accurate indicator of the way that the generator will perform in a real-life situation. Other methods of testing may not fully simulate the type of demand that the generator will need to meet. Even full-time generators that are used on a daily basis may perform differently than expected when faced with an emergency load, since most generators typically produce output that is far below their capacity ratings during everyday use. Load testing can provide useful insights and peace of mind, and it can also yield functional improvements.

 

The Negative Effects of Generator Underuse

 

Load bank testing can help improve the performance of regular generators as well as standby generators that are subject to regular no-load testing. When a diesel generator is quickly tested, used temporarily as an emergency power source, or simply under-loaded on a regular basis, it cannot reach its optimal temperature. This increases the risk that some fuel products will fail to burn off and instead accumulate in the exhaust, which is a phenomenon known as “wet stacking.” After a while, wet stacking can noticeably affect a generator’s performance. It can also reduce the device’s longevity.

 

Yearly load bank testing can counter these detrimental effects. The two-hour testing process can help a generator reach and sustain its peak power output, which means the generator will also achieve its ideal operating temperature. Any previously unburned fuel will be effectively burned off. After the test, the generator will be cleaner, primed to run more efficiently, and less likely to fail in the future. These benefits underscore why annual load bank testing is so advisable.

 

Planning for a Successful Test

 

In general, the only timing requirement for load bank testing is that it should be performed every year; however, the initial test should not be scheduled too soon after the generator’s initial installation. The generator batteries need some time to charge and reach voltage equilibrium in order for the test to yield accurate results. Conducting the testing about a week after commissioning will ensure reliable results, while any tests performed earlier may be inconclusive.

 

When you are planning for a generator load bank test, it’s important to remember that load devices can generate significant heat, even with the cooling systems they are outfitted with. These devices also produce moderate noise. It is often important to conduct testing away from employees and any building alarm systems that may activate easily. This ensures the test can be completed without unnecessary disruption to your regular business and building operations.

 

Schedule Your Test Today

 

Load bank testing is an affordable investment in your data center operations, especially when compared to the financial cost of emergency repairs and the less tangible cost of losing power at a critical time. Titan Power can incorporate load bank testing into your regular annual data center maintenance, and we also offer it as a standalone service. Don’t leave your data center susceptible to power failures and all of the associated complications. Call us today at 800-509-6170 for a free consultation about our load bank testing services.

Posted in Data Center Design, data center maintenance | Comments Off

Critical Steps to Take After a Data Center or Computer Room Disaster

Both natural and man-made disasters can have a significant impact on all the servers and storage at your data center. When that happens, do you know what your next steps are? Here is a guide to help you get through the critical period immediately following any kind of disaster that impacts your data flow.

 

Outline a Plan and Anticipate Problems

 

Before discussing the steps to take after a disaster, it’s important to review what you should do long before any problems occur. Nobody wants to have problems in their data center, but the list of potential issues at a data center are long and varied, depending on several different factors. Understanding the types of threats you might face and creating a plan that includes contingencies for several different threats is critical. Some common threats to anticipate include:

  • Malicious data center attacks (cyber-attacks)
  • Weather events related to your location, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, or wildfires
  • Power failure or power surges
  • Fire or flooding from within the building
  • Security concerns
  • Limited resources availability, such as droughts that impact water usage

 

Set Up and Run the Data Center Efficiently

 

While the setup of your data center will likely take place long before a disaster strikes, the way that you have your servers, cables, backup, and cooling system laid out can have a big impact on how well and how quickly you can recover following a problem. Avoid common problems that could impact your ability to get to your servers quickly following a disaster scenario.

  • Map out the data center so that all machines are accessible without tripping over wires and cables.
  • Keep the wiring clean and easy to follow so if you need to unplug or re-route just one cable you won’t have to deal with a tangled mess of wires where you end up just guessing which one is the right intranet cable (and crossing your fingers and hoping for the best when you unplug it).
  • Keep entry and exit doors clear and ensure proper security so only employees with proper clearance can access the room.
  • Enforce a zero-tolerance policy banning food and drink inside the data center to prevent unnecessary disasters from spilled drinks or food.
  • Spread out the electrical controls and keep them covered so it is difficult or impossible to “accidentally” shut off the power.
  • Have a secure off-site facility with backups for your most critical data in case all the servers and information in your data center are destroyed.

 

Remain Calm and Execute Your Plan

 

Even with plenty of safeguards in place and a plan outlined that anticipates potential problems, every data center is still at risk. When the servers go down and the room is dark following any type of natural or man-made disaster, it can be difficult not to panic. Before you start running around like a crazy person, take a deep breath and go about the recovery process methodically.

 

1: Get Your Backup Power Systems Running

Every data center should have a reliable uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system so when the power goes out the servers can continue running. Have dependable UPS batteries, and check them and replace them regularly. The wrong time to remember that you should have replaced your batteries is when they don’t work following a disaster.

 

2: Start with Mission-Critical Servers

Your data center might be filled with several rows of servers, so you need a map of which ones are considered “mission critical,” meaning that your business cannot operate without them. When these servers go down and information is unavailable to your employees and customers, the cost to your business is high, and every minute counts. It is helpful to have mission-critical servers clearly labeled and located in the same area of the data center so you know you’re working on the right ones and you won’t spend extra time running back and forth through rows of servers to find them. Keep a printed version of the data center map somewhere that is easily accessible (if it’s stored on a hard drive and the computers are down it won’t be much use).

 

3: Recover Second-Level Systems

After mission-critical servers are restored, move on to the systems that support your day-to-day business operations and make work easier and more convenient for employees, such as reporting, forecasting, and other similar tools. These are not mission-critical and will have minimal long-term financial impact on the company but should be restored as quickly as possible to keep operations running smoothly.

 

4: Consider Interdependent Systems

If you have interdependent systems that rely on each other to function, you will need to restore the entire system before you move on to another part of the recovery plan. Even some modular software systems must be completely intact to function correctly, so knowing which systems are interdependent and looking at a big-picture recovery plan can help you focus on the ones that need your attention first.

 

5: Avoid Unnecessary Work in the Recovery Process

As you begin rebuilding after a disaster it can be difficult to sort out what is necessary and what is not, but spending hours restoring non-critical data can slow down your entire recovery process and be frustrating for management and customers. Your disaster plan should include a list of non-essential systems, such as historical data, test systems, and employee Intranet, and other non-critical libraries that can be omitted from the initial restoration process to save time.

 

6: Spend Your Resources Wisely

If your backup systems only have the ability to support a portion of your data center, make sure the most important parts are hooked up to the UPS power supply. Don’t waste limited capacity on non-essential systems.

 

7: Cross-Train Other Employees to Start the Recovery

In some cases a natural disaster, illness, injury, or other problem may prevent your IT people from getting to the data center to begin the recovery process. For this reason your business should have several other individuals outside of IT who are cross-trained on the basics for restoring critical systems so they can get the process rolling even without an IT person available.

 

You can’t anticipate disasters, which is why it’s so important to have a plan in place, and review and practice your plan regularly so when it does happen you are ready. Talk to Titan Power today to find out more about creating and maintaining your data center so it’s ready for any disaster.

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Are Your UPS Batteries the Weak Link in Your Backup System?

Every data center faces some of the same potential disasters, and near the top of the list is the risk of power failure. When that happens, data centers need to have the proper procedures in place to ensure smooth transition to uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), but do you know how to prevent vulnerabilities in your UPS system? UPS batteries are often the most vulnerable part of your system and can lead to serious headaches, costly downtime, and lost revenue if you are not maintaining and managing them correctly.

 

Data center experts estimate that batteries are to blame for system downtime and UPS load loss in about 9 out of 10 cases, but fortunately it can be prevented with the right preparation and maintenance.

 

The Purpose of UPS Batteries

 

The uninterruptible power supply (or power source) at a data center is tasked with taking over in emergency situations when the main power fails. In order to have a properly functioning UPS system, you need to have UPS batteries in place that can handle your entire data load without failing—after all, a backup system without proper battery life won’t provide much security in a power failure situation.

 

To begin, make sure your data center has the right UPS batteries to meet the needs of your systems. There are three main types of UPS batteries that vary in terms of cost and overall reliability. Valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) are the most affordable, but also the least reliable. Flooded or Wet cell batteries provide better protection and longer life with a higher price tag. Factoring in things like life expectancy, capacity, voltage, and convenient access points can help you get the one that will offer you the best protection when you need a backup system.

 

Determining a Battery’s Useful Life

 

The way that you use, maintain, and charge a UPS battery will have an impact on its useful life. Batteries in storage will naturally decline over time, particularly if they are not used or charged regularly or if they are not recharged after a power failure that discharges some of the battery life. While in storage batteries should be charged about three times a year; without these frequent recharges the UPS battery will likely only last between 18 months and two years, much shorter than the usual three to five year lifespan.

 

A UPS battery has reached the end of its “useful life” when capacity falls below 80 percent of its rated ampere-hours. After this the battery will begin to steadily and quickly decline and should be replaced as soon as possible. Batteries generally last between three and five years, although the specific amount of time your battery lasts will vary depending on usage, storage, and maintenance.

 

Before purchasing any battery, check to make sure it has not been sitting on a shelf in a warehouse for a while prior to purchase. Since they require frequent recharging, purchasing a battery that is more than one year old and has not been recharged means you will get a shorter lifespan than a brand new battery.

 

Causes of UPS Battery Deterioration

 

In any backup system the UPS batteries might fail for one of several reasons, including:

  • Infrequent or nonexistent maintenance
  • Less-than-ideal storage conditions
  • High humidity or fluctuating temperatures
  • Loose connections or inter-cell links
  • Dried out or damaged cases that lead to electrolyte loss

 

With so many different things that could go wrong when it comes to your UPS battery, having a well-defined maintenance schedule is critical to keeping them in top shape for when they are needed.

 

Ensuring a Proper Storage Environment

 

One of the best ways to prevent degradation for UPS batteries is to store them properly. The battery manufacturer should specify the ideal environment for keeping and storing UPS batteries, but generally speaking, the storage environment should be:

  • Indoors
  • Protected from weather, humidity, sunlight, etc.
  • In a dry location
  • Around 77 degrees, but if you cannot achieve exactly that temperature try to at least keep it between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit

 

Proper UPS Battery Maintenance

 

Once installed, it’s important to keep track of all your battery maintenance. Perform visual inspections on a regular basis and log any information about potential problems that you see during the inspections, such as damaged cases or leaks. If left unaddressed these things could cause corrosion, fire, and other damage to your data center.

 

Next, perform regular readings on the batteries to determine if they are wearing out too fast—this is especially critical if you have a series of batteries wired together, as a failure in one of them could impact the entire string.

 

If you do have a power failure and must rely on the batteries for backup power, make sure to recharge the batteries within 48 hours of discharge to prevent extensive and irreparable damage.

 

Write down the replacement cycle for each battery so you don’t lose track, especially if you purchase batteries at different times over the course of several years, or if you add batteries to your storage slowly over time.

 

Sealed UPS batteries are often referred to as “maintenance-free” but don’t be fooled by the name—they still require regular maintenance checks like any other battery. The “maintenance-free” part only means that you won’t need to replace the fluid inside the battery.

 

Feel Confident With UPS Battery Maintenance

 

At Titan Power we understand the importance of preventive maintenance for UPS batteries. Being prepared for any contingency is critical to your success and continued operations, and we can help you get the right maintenance plan for your UPS batteries so you feel confident in case of an emergency.

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The 7 Things Your Data Storage Company Hasn’t Told You

Properly storing your data is a key part of protecting your business. Every day, companies rely on information to get the job done, producing items in the form of graphics, spreadsheets, presentations, e-mails and more. Additionally, government regulations are now requiring organizations to maintain certain pieces of data that may have otherwise been deleted.

 

No matter what size business you own, professional data storage is almost always a necessity. Once you have made the wise decision to utilize a data storage company, you may be tempted to thing of the information as an “out of sight, out of mind” thing. And if you are working with the right data partner, you can rest assured that your information is safe and secure.

 

However, there are a number of truths surrounding your information that you should know. Here are seven things about data storage that could eventually affect your business.

 

  1. It’s hard to keep up with the boom

 

Data is now measured in zettabytes. One zettabyte is the equivalent of 1,000 exabytes or 1 trillion gigabytes. By the year 2020, the Computer Sciences Corporation estimates that there will be 35 zettabytes of information circulating. The agency states that the explosion of information is largely due to the fact that businesses are switching from analog to digital technology.

 

Corporations are not alone in driving this growth, however, as individuals have taken on a substantial portion of creating and storing information. Users are regularly producing photos and videos and utilizing social media accounts, causing the amount of data to grow by leaps and bounds.

 

The big boom has caused unstructured growth among data companies, which are trying extremely hard to keep pace. While the industry may not come out and say it, you can be sure that the storage company you use is constantly thinking of ways to accommodate more information.

 

  1. We are constantly backing up information, but we aren’t always sure when it will be needed.

 

Most data storage facilities are backing up information every night. The backups then sit somewhere offsite, where they are often left untouched. However, that information cannot be destroyed because it’s always possible that someone will need to access it. Sometimes, it can feel like they are preparing for a big event that may never happen.

 

  1. Your data is here … somewhere

 

Consider that a data storage company is responsible for more gigabytes than you could ever imagine. Additionally, information that needs to be stored is growing by as much as 60 percent every year. According to the Computer Sciences Corporation, annual data information will grow by as much as 4300 percent by the year 2020.

 

So if you ask someone where exactly your information is, don’t be surprised if they aren’t sure if it is located in offsite storage or in a data center. And further, if you find you need something quickly, be sure to give the company enough lead time to produce it. Depending on how old the information is, it could take weeks to locate it.

 

  1. It’s not easy to access our backups.

 

Think about how quickly technology evolves. Even cellphones come out with new designs, models and upgrades every few months. Certain applications are updated even more often. Translate that kind of change into the data world, and you are looking at an industry where software is constantly upgraded, switched over and then discarded. Therefore, if you need to access something on a tape from 10 years ago, it may take some time to find, and then someone is going to have to locate the right program to open it because the software is almost certainly extinct.

 

  1. We prefer to add more storage than sort through old files.

 

Could you imagine having to go through millions and millions of files to determine if they could be kept or deleted? Sure, it may be better in the long run to trash old data, but to better keep pace with ever-expanding storage needs, businesses simply add more room instead. People in information technology are keenly aware of the programs that could help users identify which files can be trashed, but explaining those programs is often more of a bother than a help because it is so time-consuming.

 

  1. Brace yourself, because costs could rise

 

Data storage companies need to take into account all the information you have archived, everything you are currently producing and everything you might create. Based on projections for companies to generate more and more data, it’s likely that you will see an increase in charges. It can be difficult to estimate exactly how much space a business will need in the long term, but typically, people are producing more, and not less.

 

  1. Communication issues are a problem.

 

Thanks to increased federal regulations, there are legal requirements for what must be stored and retrievable. If data companies had a better picture of which files are important and which can be deleted, we could conceivably cut our storage significantly. However, the legal resources available do not always understand that finding those files can take an extremely long time, and most of the time, associates would rather not deal with the issue and just add more storage.

 

The team that is in place at Titan Power understands the challenges facing the data storage industry. We are constantly creating innovative ways to plan, design and engineer your data storage center. For companies who are weighing their risks and want to get a better look at the bigger picture, understanding these truths is a good place to start.

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Data Centers Move From Big Data to Smarter Data

Thirty-five zettabytes. That is the equivalent of 35 trillion gigabytes, and that is how much information the Computer Sciences Corporation estimates user will generate on an annual basis by the year 2020. The phrase “big data” simply refers to sets of information that have grown too complex or too large to fit into the older, standard tools we used to use. Thanks to the exponential growth in the industry, there has been a push to figure out a way to manipulate and manage all this information, and classification is the key to making it work.

 

Analyzing Big Data

 

Broken down into its basic components, big data is just a collection of the simple pieces the everyday user knows well:

 

  • Spreadsheets
  • Pictures
  • E-mails
  • Everyday work documents

 

These files are created and shared, getting saved somewhere within the data storage environment in the process. This information is being generated at an unprecedented pace, causing unstructured growth. The boom, so to speak, has left many in the industry scratching their heads when trying to set policies around it or simply maintain it.

 

The Problem With Unstructured Growth

 

One of the reasons so many people in the information technology field are concerned about big data is that there are legal implications now that require a business to be able to store and retrieve certain information. Left unmanaged, these key pieces of data can become a compliance liability or land a business in legal trouble.

 

What’s more, improper storage of all this information is how security breaches occur. Hackers need only to find one small opening in order to compromise an entire data set, as exhibited by the countless issues major retail companies, for example, have experienced.

 

The Process of Storing Data

 

So how can we properly and securely store all this information? The first step is to classify it correctly. In a catch-22, we find that in order to classify data, we often need to have policies in place. However, it is difficult to create policies without first having classified the information.

 

That is why breaking down big data to the ground level is essential, because we can figure out what kind of unstructured data is out there. Once we identify the items at a file level, we can start to classify it because we can determine where it is located, who owns it and when it was accessed last.

 

Being Smart About Information

 

The classification process is exactly how we can take a step back and attack the storage problem. Gaining a deeper understanding of the files will enable us to improve the way our data works and is governed.

 

There are six basic classifications that a piece of data may fall under:

 

  1. Archive

 

Regulatory requirements will automatically mean that certain pieces of information are valuable to a business in the long term. Storage companies may be able to find these files by searching for keywords, figuring out who owns it or simply knowing the type of file. Once located, the information can be placed into an archive to satisfy legal or other standards.

 

  1. Active

 

If something has been created in the last three years, it is considered active and therefore is most likely to be accesses again. It can be managed in place until either aging out of the system or moving into another classification.

 

  1. Aged

 

Information often moves from being active to being aged. Items that have not been accessed for three years may represent as much as 40 percent of the data on a company’s network. Therefore, it is imperative for a business to take this information and move it either into an archive file, if it has value, or the trash can if it does not. Classification enables us to view who owns the document or search it by keyword to determine if it is something that should be saved.

 

  1. Redundant

 

You know the drill: You create a version of a document and share it with a co-worker, who makes a few changes and shares it with someone else, who also makes changes. You now have three copies of the same document floating around and taking up space. Through data profiling, we can attach a signature to a document that can help us determine if it is an exact copy of something else and can be deleted.

 

  1. Personal

 

Even companies with strict policies that restrict the use of machines for personal items will find that employees often store pictures or to-do lists on the system. Someone has a new baby and wants to share a picture with co-workers, and that image has now been saved somewhere in your data storage. While one photo may not be problematic, several photos from thousands of employees can be. Businesses can utilize data classification to identify personal information and ask employees to remove it from the network.

 

  1. Abandoned

 

This last group is likely the easiest to identify and manage, as abandoned information typically does not have value. Usually, this is data that former employees owned, and it has not been accessed in the three-year timeframe. It is still a good idea to ensure that the files do not contain important information that should be stored, however, just to cover any liabilities.

 

Next Steps

 

Once the classification process is complete, businesses can easily manage the information by archiving it, deleting it or moving it to a less expensive data center. Policies are easily created once a business knows what kind of information it has, and these policies can be used as a legal defense for deleting a document.

 

At Titan Power, our goal is to help you run as efficiently as possible. Let’s combat the problems associated with big data by simply making our data smarter. Identify it, classify it and create a policy to give it structure.

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Consolidating Your Computer Power & Air Room While Increasing Its Capacity

Maintaining a computer room can be a comprehensive procedure requiring quite a bit of effort for those at the helm. Proper maintenance must entail a multi-level approach that takes many different components under consideration. These can include regular review of vital equipment, scheduled reviews of heating and cooling systems, and making the best use of the space available for storing essential items.

 

In many cases, consolidation can increase efficiency immensely, which is of a huge concern to the IT industry. Because consolidation can be a rather involved process, IT managers must take a detailed approach to ensuring their data centers are functioning at peak performance.

 

Whether designing or consolidating a computer room setup, Titan Power can provide the type of industry experience necessary to achieve the best results. The following tips further highlight the many benefits provided by computer and air room consolidation.

 

Have a Firm Understanding of Current Needs

 

Different companies may have differing needs when it comes to maintaining important computer equipment. To this end, data centers are categorized by tier, and each level entails that certain requirements are continually met. Understanding the differences between tiers can be helpful when designing or revamping a data center for more efficient output.

 

  • Tier 1 – This is the most basic level a data center can occupy. A tier 1 center must provide 99.671% availability, and surplus equipment or power sources are not required. Small companies usually fall within this tier.

 

  • Tier 2 – In a tier 2 center, key equipment should be able to be replaced or removed with causing any service interruptions. Availability must equal 99.741%.

 

  • Tier 3 – Tier 3 data centers are the most common of the four. Power supplies must always remain active and accessible, and certain components should have redundant devices in place. Availability must be at least 99.982%.

 

  • Tier 4 – At a tier 4 center, all equipment must have secondary options in case of failure. Availability at a tier 4 center must be 99.995%, with only 26 minutes of yearly downtime allowed. This is the preferred option for many multi-million dollar companies.

 

Eliminate Unnecessary Equipment

 

Unnecessary or unused equipment can actually cost a company quite bit in terms of time and money. While it may seem like a good idea to keep additional equipment to meet future needs, too many superfluous items may actually decrease efficiency in the workplace. That’s why consolidating equipment can make such a difference to a company’s daily work process.

 

It’s recommended that companies should either discard or store items that are not used on a regular basis. Such equipment can take up valuable space within a computer room, which can then create difficulty in performing critical daily functions. Surplus equipment can also create higher expenditures by using power when it’s not absolutely necessary. Keeping costs low can be an important consideration for smaller companies, who may be working with less capital than their larger counterparts.

 

Submit Cooling Systems to Routine Review

 

Cooling systems are integral to a well-functioning computer room. Increased temperatures can greatly damage equipment, which can then result in the need for expensive replacements and repairs. Conversely, utilizing an expansive cooling system in a smaller area can incur exorbitant expenses on monthly utilities.

 

Reviewing one’s cooling systems is crucial in this respect. Initiating a routine review can serve multiple purposes within a computer room, from ensuring equipment remains functional for the duration to limiting the amount of monthly expenditures needed for cooling procedures. When performed on a regular basis, such review can help those in charge of maintenance better meet needs as they arise.

 

Make Use of Available Space

 

An efficient use of space can go a long way where computer rooms are concerned. This is particularly relevant to those working within smaller areas, where a bit of finesse may be required to ably make room for all mandatory equipment. In this case, proper placement can be a great way to ensure a more productive and efficient process overall.

 

A smooth-running computer room should be completely free of clutter. Needless items will only serve as impediments to daily work duties. Additionally, equipment should be clearly labeled, especially when used in sizable data centers with numerous items in use. These methods can prevent interruptions while also optimizing the daily processes inherent to computer room operation.

 

Regularly Audit Existing Processes

 

Over time, the needs of a company may change a great deal. What was once highly useful to a business may no longer be required, while items that weren’t needed at the inception may now prove beneficial. This is especially true when it comes to the maintenance of computer and air rooms, which can require a great deal of specialized service to ensure prime functionality.

 

For these reasons, it’s imperative that a company does a regular audit of their existing processes to determine whether they make sense going forward. Such audits should include the current equipment setup, hardware needs, and regular checks of cooling devices to ensure they are in proper working order. Devising a checklist can be helpful in this instance. Possible items can include:

 

  • Checking power supplies
  • Replacing malfunctioning components
  • Engaging in specialized testing of important equipment
  • Securing service personnel to undertake maintenance procedures
  • Ensuring that cooling/heating systems are operating as expected
  • Testing backup power devices (such as generators), as well as batteries

 

Call Now to Optimize Your Business

Titan Power can help your business optimize its current computer room setup. Our highly-skilled technicians have the experience necessary to help companies meet a variety of IT needs. For more information, please contact us today at 1-800-509-6170.

 

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Five Strange and Weird Data Center Outages

Data storage is a very real concern in this day and age. Much of the world relies on data centers for everything from completing crucial work tasks to accessing entertainment. Unfortunately, even the most dependable data storage plans can fall prey to bizarre occurrences. These instances can spell ruination to vital equipment, as well as affecting web access.

The following are five very strange stories of data center outages. While some instances are simply unavoidable, there are many measures a company can take to ensure that data is stored in a reasonable manner. For those seeking reliable data storage, Titan Power can offer clients numerous safe and secure options.

Electrified Squirrel Wreaks Havoc on Yahoo

While squirrels may appear cute and cuddly from a distance, these critters are often to blame for a number of power outages due to their predilection for chewing on everything in sight. This was the case in 2010, when a lone squirrel effectively took out half of a Santa Clara data center used by Yahoo while chewing through a communications line.

Surprisingly, squirrels account for a great portion of data center outages due to their love of chewing. According to Level 3 Communications, squirrels accounted for a whopping 17% of their damaged cables in 2011 alone. Damage caused by squirrels is an experience shared by many, from homeowners to multi-national corporations.

Some wager that squirrels are so keen on chewing things like wires and hoses because the sturdy texture helps keep their rapidly growing teeth at bay. Others claim that squirrels are just ravenous little creatures, and that the materials used to create wires may be tasty to them. Despite the reason, many companies invest untold money in squirrel-proofing expensive equipment, with varying levels of success.

Hurricane Sandy Fells Numerous Data Centers

While New York City is well-known for its culture and night-life, many people tend to forget is that this bustling metropolis is surrounded by water. Accordingly, large-scale natural disasters can pose quite a threat to both property and populace.

This was never more evident than when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. Sandy brought the city’s many data centers to their figurative knees thanks to surging flood waters, which then caused unprecedented outages. Compounding the storm was the questionable data storage plans that many high-profile entities utilized within the city.

Leading data centers located in New York City (including DataGram, host to such media bigwigs as Gawker, Buzzfeed, and The Huffington Post), chose to store essential electrical components below ground level. Due to these poor decisions, a large portion of property was damaged beyond repair, and many popular websites were forced to go black for an extended period of time.

Ship Anchors Sever Undersea Cables

In many instances, undersea cables are responsible for ferrying data between continents. The idea is that undersea placement will keep vital components intact and internet service uninterrupted.

However, this isn’t always the case, as illustrated in 2008 when ships erroneously dropped anchor on three cables located in the Mediterranean Sea. The resulting service issues were witnessed within the Middle East, along with effects occurring in parts of Asia.

Many initially speculated that these disruptions were caused by intentional sabotage. However, satellite imagery later showed evidence of ships dropping anchor in the wrong area. While this scenario may seem unlikely, similar cuts happened to undersea cables earlier that same year, fueling some of the conjecture that these disruptions were indeed deliberate.

Leap Second Results in Multiple Disruptions

While most are familiar with the concept of a leap year, a leap second is a far more mysterious occurrence. In order to keep in line with earth’s rotational changes, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) must occasionally add seconds to a worldwide timekeeping device. Adding these leap seconds ensures that time as it is commonly understood remains in sync with the movement of earth.

In 2012, such a time adjustment occurred. This caused a range of IT problems commonly known as the Leap Second Bug. Numerous Australian airlines experienced flight delays as a result of the additional second, as well as issues checking in passengers. The Leap Second Bug also caused problems with a variety of highly-trafficked sites, including Reddit and Mozilla.

Acquisition Takes Web Sites Offline for 72 Hours

Business acquisitions are often fraught with tension for all involved. In the case of Alabanza, customers experienced a 72 hour blackout after an acquisition resulted in the company moving integral equipment to another location. This caused a whopping 175,000 sites to go off line, much to the consternation of Alabanza’s numerous customers.

In 2007, Alabanza was acquired by the web hosting company NaviSite. This required a relocation of servers containing vital account information that were being housed in Alabanza’s dedicated data center in Baltimore. Initially, all accounts were slated to be moved by data transfer. However, issues with the file transfer tool led NaviSite to physically move the servers over 400 miles to their data facility in Andover, MA. The result was that many lost access to sites, without any indication that such an interruption was likely to occur.

All sites were eventually brought back online, but the customer dissatisfaction was palpable. Instant access is essential to a successful hosting service, which both Alabanza and NaviSite had to learn the hard way.

Reliable Data Storage Is a Phone Call Away

Unexplained and unnecessary outages can make a client think twice about future data storage. Thankfully, Titan Power has the means to ensure that all data remains secure no matter what occurs. For more information on the many great services we provide, please contact us today at 1-800-509-6170.

 

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Small Business IT Needs Versus Small Office/Home Office IT Needs

Many of the components that make up an effective Information Technology system—whether for a tiny home-based office or a small business with dozens of users—are quite similar from one to the next. However, there are some critical differences. Here is an overview of considerations to be made when implementing or expanding your IT investments.

IT Needs for a Small/Home Office

 

Your Network

 

When it comes to your IT needs for your home/small office, one of the first things you’ll want to focus on is your computer network. In addition to allowing your devices to access the Internet, this system also allows you to communicate with other people or computers that are on the network. Even if you are a one-person company and don’t need to worry about sharing files or communicating with other employees, your network is a critical part of your small or home office. For additional flexibility, you may want to consider going wireless to avoid messy cable setups and wasting additional time and energy every time a modification needs to be made.

 

Your Networking Standard

 

If you opt to pursue a wireless network, you’ll need to settle on a networking standard. In short, a network standard is a means of ensuring that all devices can properly work with one another on the network. Older components that do not utilize the same networking standard as the rest of your computer system may still be able to connect, but may wind up slowing down the entire system. When possible, it is best to upgrade all devices and adapters to the latest networking standard to ensure a smooth and speedy connection.

 

Choosing a Wireless Router

 

Your router is, in short, the device that connects your network to the Internet. It also enables all computers that are connected to it to share this connection. In addition, your router will often also act as a DHCP server for your network, which allows each connected device to maintain a separate, private IP address. Routers often have security already built in, like firewalls, though your router’s firewall should not be the only means of defense your network utilizes.

IT Needs for a Small Business

 

One of the biggest differences when considering IT needs for a small business, as opposed to a small/home office, is the number of people who need to be connected to one another from day to day. While a small/home office may only need to accommodate one or two people, a small business may need to provide dozens of employees with access to various communication systems. Here are some additional thoughts to keep in mind:

 

  1. Typically, small businesses are likely to have more customers and more sales activity than a home office; therefore, it is imperative that additional security precautions are made. A recent study by AVG Technologies discovered that 52% of small business owners do not currently utilize any kind of IT security policy, which is extremely dangerous. Typical consumer resources for increasing IT security include installing firewalls and anti-virus software, but a professional IT company can add multiple layers of additional security to help ensure you will never have to deal with a breach.

 

Taking precautions now can help defend your website against hackers later. Against an improperly defended website, hackers may be able to not only illegally access and crash your website if they so choose, but also steal the financial and personal details of your customers. The ramifications of such an incident can be devastating for nearly any small business.

 

Employee education. It is critical that your employees understand the techniques that malicious entities have when trying to access data. These days, unfortunately sometimes all it takes is for one person to click inadvertently on a bad link, or install a questionable app on their company phone, to trigger a wave of chaos that can have devastating effects on your business. After installing your new IT hardware and software, you should have a companywide meeting to discuss the changes that have been made, as well as provide information on how to stay safe.

 

Interoffice communication and beyond. How do your employees need to communicate effectively with one another, both in the office and outside of it? Does the majority of your staff stay in the office all day, or do you have employees who are constantly working offsite? Are voice calls required, or do text messages often suffice? Depending on the needs of your staff, an IT specialist can make recommendations on how to make communication more stable, reliable, secure, and effective.

 

  1. What kind of power needs do you have for your small business? What are your plans to cope in the event of a power outage? You may wish to consider having a company install and maintain an uninterruptible power supply, emergency generator, or battery backup system onsite to ensure that you and your data remains protected.

Bring in the Pros

 

There are lots of “DIY Information Technology” guides on the Internet. These guides can help assist you with many different aspects of installing or upgrading your IT equipment. The problem is that most individuals simply do not have the education or professional experience to know which approach will work best for their particular situation. With so many different kinds of software, hardware, methods of connection, security features, and connected devices to consider, it is no wonder that many home-based offices and small businesses alike leave implementing or upgrading their IT system to the professionals. Bringing in the pros right from the start can ensure you won’t have to duplicate your steps, return or exchange incorrect or inappropriate gear, or have extended periods of downtime.

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The Computer Room in Your Closet

The Computer Room in Your Closet: How Risks of Power Loss Can Impact Business Operations

 

Business loses power

As business owners are planning their business or making changes to their current business, they’ll do well to make sure they plan for blackouts and brownouts. Not only that, but it’s also a good idea for business owners to plan for both long-term and short-term brownout and blackouts in the event that they are without power for longer than expected. It’s not unheard of for blackouts to last several days or even several weeks. Here at Titan Power, we want you to be fully aware of just how much you and your business stand to lose during a power outage.

 

Lack of Incentive

 

One of the main reasons that businesses will want to make sure they come up with a thorough and well-thought out plan for a blackout is that there is currently little incentive to put money into a steadily aging grid infrastructure. Not only that, but energy from unpredictable renewable energy sources doesn’t seamlessly fit together with 50 or 60-year-old electricity grids.

 

More and more electricity grids are starting to become connected, which means that should a blackout occur in one region there’s a very strong chance that it will cascade outwards to other grids and lead to a supra-regional blackout. Other threats to electrical grids include terrorist attacks, solar flares, and cyber attacks. Business leaders might not think that a short blackout can have a large impact on their business, but research has revealed that a blackout that lasts a half hour can result on a financial loss of roughly $15,700 on average for medium and large industrial clients. Should the blackout last eight hours, it could very easily result in nearly $94,000 in losses. Blackouts can be devastating no matter how long or how short they last.

 

Downtown Risk

 

There are certain misconceptions that an IT staff and senior executives may have that can add to expensive downtime. For that exact reason, one of the very first things that business owners should fully comprehend is the current state of their systems availability.

 

Businesses owners should ask themselves how many blackouts or downtime events they’ve experienced in the past two years, the average time these events happened, if their equipment was the cause of the failure, and what steps they can take to increase their availability.

 

In order to truly boost their availability, businesses have to invest in advanced and reputable infrastructure technologies. One thing to keep in mind with this advice is that keeping up with the most advanced infrastructure technology can be more than a little difficult. Also, making sure there is an in-house staff that has the proper facility management, operational, and security proficiency can be more than a little difficult since such services are often expensive and hard to come by.

 

The Frequency of Power Outages

 

Business owners may not be able to control when blackouts and brownouts happen, but they can control how they react to these power outages. One of the reasons it’s so vital for them to determine how big of an impact downtime events will have is so that they can determine whether or not they have the proper equipment and controls in place to help them “staunch the bleeding.”

 

The most prevalent blackouts and brownouts seem to take place in economies that are just starting to emerge and haven’t properly invested in their energy infrastructure. Downtime is also common in areas with natural hazards and inclement weather conditions.

 

In some countries, consumers are being asked to use less electricity in response to the immediate failings of national electrical grids. After several blackouts during a 2011 heat wave, the government of South Korea revealed a contingency plan that would take some of the pressure off of the national grid, which called for a ten percent cut in demand for major manufacturers and limits on temperatures for neon signs and commercial buildings.

 

The Detrimental Effects of Power Outages

 

There are several ways that a power outage can negatively impact a business, including:

 

  • Phones – A majority of business are essentially unable to do anything without the use of their phones. Not only are they unable to communicate with customers and clients, they may not be able to communicate with each other inside of the business
  • Internet – While a valuable tool, the internet is also a huge vulnerability. Without it, businesses won’t be able to send or respond to email, process orders, or access accounting systems. If order processing is out, customers might potentially take their business and money elsewhere while leaving their frustrations with the company
  • Essential Applications – Technology has changed the way that we do business, and without the applications created by that technology business might not be able to operate at all
  • Data Corruption or Loss – Should a blackout occur, it’s entirely possible for a business to lose valuable data, such as financial records, their customer database, and potential sales leads. Even when power is restored business can still be taking a hit for several days or even weeks afterward
  • Legal Consequences – The ripples created by a blackout or brownout can be legal as well as financial. Legal regulatory fines can significantly increase how much a business ultimately has to pay for a power outage. Should word of these legal consequences become known to the public, there’s a very good chance that customers will take their business elsewhere.

 

Business owners may be tempted to put off planning for a power outage. Either that, or they might decide to devote the money and resources required for proper preparation elsewhere. The best time to plan for an emergency is well before one happens. Doing so can potentially save a business, its reputation, and keep customers happy even through hard times. For more information about how to plan and prepare your business for power outages, get in touch with the data base experts here at Titan Power.

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