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Infrared Thermography Is A Vital Component Of Data Center Tests

Data CenterLarge and small data centers have or are connected to server systems, UPS, computer rooms, networked computers, and many other electronics and equipment. All of those large and small businesses must conduct data center testing, especially in the form of infrared thermography, in order to quickly catch problem areas. The use of infrared thermography provides easy to read pictures of where problems lie. Overheated components and areas of air leakage are identified easily and any thermal insulation with defective or damaged spots can be quickly spotted. Choosing a provider for this infrared thermographic testing may be one of your top priorities if you don’t already have one on your team.

Working in a data center you are well aware of the amounts of heat that multiple large servers and a large amount of other equipment can produce. You should also have a clear understanding of how dependent your business is upon all of that technology. Data centers are routinely and carefully inspected and monitored for signs of trouble, especially in the form of dropping or spiking temperature. The main purpose of data center testing, and specifically infrared thermography, is to identify and pinpoint connections, conductors or other components that are becoming too warm or too cool. Either of these circumstances can lead to problems or emergencies.

Most of the problems facing a data center are caused by a handful of situations. Overheating can occur when connections become loose or when they suffer from deterioration. Any area that experiences short circuiting may also become a fire hazard. As machinery experiences overloads, many types of malfunction can occur. At times, components may have been improperly installed. Load imbalances, faulty fuses or breakers, switches which have been damaged and many other unexpected electrical conditions can lead to problems. These problems may not be easily seen without data center testing that includes the use of infrared thermography. And without adequate warning, an undetected spike in temperature can lead to serious and frightening conditions.

Data CenterEvery time your data center suffers from an electrical system failure, you are sure to experience losses. Whether just one circuit is involved or if a major component and system is affected, you are sure to feel the effects throughout budgets, safety procedures, future trainings and productivity. And so the prevention of such a system failure becomes extremely important. Using data center testing to identify trouble areas before they become problems is very important. A preventative maintenance program that involves the use of infrared thermography as part of routine data center testing is a must have for any technologically-based business, large or small.

As you prepare for your data center to be tested, remember that more than just the data center will need to be monitored. Servers are generally connected to many other forms of electrical equipment. Following the trail from servers to personal computers, to sources of power, to cooling and heating machinery should be included in all routine data center checks.

Infrared thermography should be a part of a complete testing schedule for your data center. When it comes to the data center, remember that it is often the hazard that isn’t seen that is the most dangerous.

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Why Your Data Center Should Have An Emergency Dispatch Team

Data centerEven when you have put every preventative measure in place, your data center could become site of fires or flooding or other unpredictable emergencies. If this happens, then you want to peace of mind that comes from knowing that the data center spe ts you have called will have the experience to get your data center quickly back to work. You’ll appreciate knowing that the emergency and all of the equipment will be treated professionally and appropriately. You’ll want the assurance that comes from knowing that the spe ts will be able to restore and repair any hardware or equipment that was damaged during the emergency.

When an emergency arises, it will be vital to the health of your business and the consistency of the services that your data center provides, that the emergency team of data center spe ts arrive promptly to your center. The emergency team should be prepared to mobilize at any time during the day or night, over weekends or on holidays. This availability of an emergency team from your regular data center maintenance provider means that you won’t have to hire another crew without familiarity with your data center and its complex systems and machinery.

UPS maintenanceDuring the emergency, as you are focused on providing a continuity of service and simultaneously trying to contain the negative effects of the emergency, knowing that the data center emergency dispatch team has experience with your data center and your equipment. As you work through the emergency with a team of spe ts from a data center maintenance provider that you are already working with, you’ll appreciate knowing that the professionals are prepared with the emergency chemicals and supplies that have been specifically developed with a data center in mind. It will be important to you that you already know what certifications and specialties the data center spe ts hold and that you have a long standing relationship with their company.

As the emergency begins to wrap up and damages become apparent, you may appreciate that the data center spe ts you are working with understand how to provide repair and restoration services. When you are already faced with the costs of dealing with the emergency, knowing that the emergency team can provide you with repair services can provide you with much-needed peace of mind. Instead of facing replacement costs for all of your machinery, you’ll have the option of that equipment being quickly repaired and tested. Getting equipment promptly back into service will be the goal of restoration and repair operations.

A data center and all of its machinery constitutes an environment that can be sensitive to many different situations which could put the business at risk. With millions of dollars at risk, each and every aspect of the hardware will need careful and consistent monitoring. Without the regular services provided by data center spe ts, the data center could be subject to costly downtime, the loss of digital information or even damage done by inexperienced and unknowing personnel. But when you have chosen a team of experienced professionals who specialize in servicing data centers, then you’ll have the confidence that your data center is in safe hands. Furthermore, when those professionals can respond within minutes of an emergency, you’ll know that your data center’s operations are well-protected.

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Thermal Runaway and Hot To Mitigate Your Risk

These are pictures of Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries that were damaged by excessive heat buildup in the battery causing “Thermal Runaway.” The most typical application for VRLA batteries is in Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) which provide an alternate source of energy, using these batteries, in the event of a power outage. These batteries lost the ability to store current, which causes them to heat up internally. Some batteries became so hot they melted together requiring pry bars and chisels to break the battery free from the tray, rack or cabinet.

 

What is Thermal Runaway?

Thermal Runaway is an abnormal condition where most of the energy provided by the battery charger results in heat generation, in turn releasing energy that further increases the internal temperature of the battery.  The elevated battery temperature draws more charging current, causing additional heat build-up.  This condition will continue to compound to the point where accelerated dry out and/or melting of the battery will occur and in some extreme cases, cause a fire.

Measures to help prevent Thermal Runaway

-Keep the temperature of the battery environment/room at 77 degrees F as recommended by the battery manufacturer. Every degree above 77 shortens the life of the battery.

-Perform battery replacements on aged or failing batteries according to your service provider’s recommendations, battery manufacturer and industry standards.

-Perform regularly scheduled preventative maintenance on the UPS and batteries to test impedance, resistance and voltage.As a UPS and battery service provider, we encourage customers to follow these recommendations to ensure the continued integrity and reliability of their backup power systems.

As a UPS and battery service provider, we encourage customers to follow these recommendations to ensure the continued integrity and reliability of their backup power systems.

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Prepare For A Real-World Power Outage With Roll Over Testing

Modern companies all over the world that rely on large scale technology and complex support systems to maintain the operation of critical loads must have a way to prevent anything that might lead to downtime. For the majority of these businesses, downtime is simply not an option and the negative effects suffered by business profits and the productivity of the staff during downtime must be avoided at all costs. The best way to avoid downtime and its negative effects is with a carefully planned and implemented routine for prevention. An integral part of this plan is data center testing, including the vital component of data center roll over testing.

Data CenterThere are several important components of data center testing in addition to data center roll over testing. These components include four important tests. Infrared thermography refers to scanning the electrical system with a specialized camera in order to catch any spikes or drops in temperature. Load bank testing refers to the part of testing which evaluates the fuel systems, the exhaust and the engine cooling systems. UPS acceptance testing is the third test and is occasionally provided in order to ensure that the UPS system is running according the specifications set forth by the manufacturer. Finally, facility roll over testing will be performed in order to verify that during a power outage, all of the data center’s emergency back-up systems will be functional.

The role of data center roll over testing among the other components of testing becomes clear when considering the possibility for a real-world power outage. Extreme temperatures, downed power lines, blown transformers or digging for construction can all create a situation where outside power sources are affected. These circumstances may be anticipated by a business, but can’t be predicted. In order to be sure that critical buss loads aren’t affected by a real-world power loss, the data center back-up systems must be able to instantly be in effect as a power outage occurs. For all non-essential loads, the back-up power systems should be providing a power stream within seconds of the power outage. The roll over testing will ensure that the alternate power supply will be immediately and fully responsive. Another important aspect of data center roll over testing is to be sure that the facility is able to correctly re-establish connections with the original source of utility power.

Data CenterData centers are commonly full of complexity and interrelated systems. A great deal of thought, creativity, cooperation and capital has been focused on the development of the internal operations of data centers and integration between the data centers and other facilities. The entire system must be able to work as an independent, but integrated whole. In order to ensure that this goal is accomplished, each important component of testing must be included in routine maintenance and prevention programs.  Instead of putting productivity at risk, regularly scheduled testing and other risk management practices must be implemented.

Data center roll over testing is an important preventative component of the testing routinely performed by data centers and businesses with other large electronic requirements. Before your business or center is affected by a real-world power outage, schedule facility roll over testing and train your employees in the procedures that will accompany the roll over.

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Properly Installing Power Distribution Units For Future Growth

Data CenterToday’s data centers are vastly different from ten, five, and even one year ago, and the proper installation of power distribution units (PDUs) is an exercise in both addressing your immediate needs while planning properly for the future growth of the center. Installed correctly, these units can distribute power appropriately throughout all the components within a facility. This article will address some of the pitfalls common in PDU installation, and how to address them for optimal data center performance.

Changing Data Center Power Needs

A few years ago, equipment in data centers was larger, bulkier, and more spread out, and as such, many companies did not even use power distribution units. Now, with all the virtualization strategies and blade servers, a large number of servers can be densely packed into a smaller space. While this is beneficial from the standpoint of requiring less real estate to house the same amount of equipment, it also means that you will need a more comprehensive strategy for distributing power evenly throughout the center.

data center design There are two types of PDUs, floor-mounted and rack-mounted. Floor units tend to be fewer and farther between, located around the edge of the data center to feed power to the racks. Rack-mounted PDUs would then take the power and feed it to the computers, networking equipment, and servers.

Some Pitfalls In PDU Installation

One of the most common mistakes made when planning and installing PDUs is to build with today in mind, and expect to add on in the future with the exact same design. At first glance, this may seem like a sound strategy: save money right now by building for only what you need, and build out in more of a modular design as your needs grow. The problem with this strategy is that in an ever-changing IT world, the next generation of servers will probably not look like the ones you have today. As a result, the power needs of tomorrow’s servers will be much different, and using old PDU technology to build on in the future can result in less efficiency and higher overall costs.

Another mistake often made by companies is to try and go with the lowest cost PDUs. Building a data center requires a significant up-front investment, so it can be tempting to save money wherever possible. Keep in mind, though, that shaving costs today by installing PDUs incapable of meeting your growing center can add up in the future when you have to add more elements to your system and reconfigure or install new PDUs to meet changing needs.

Finally, many companies use a measure of average watts per square foot to determine their overall data center power needs, then arrange the servers in a way that creates uneven power consumption. This can complicate PDU installation, creating problems and bottlenecks in power distribution unless the center is carefully planned to avoid uneven power usage scenarios.

The need for efficient PDU installations is increasing every year, and without a proper plan for your changing power needs, your data center can quickly become obsolete and require significant additional costs to bring it up to speed. Companies that are willing to invest time and effort into PDUs that are built for future expansion can realize significant long-term savings and be ready for whatever the world of IT brings.

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Important Qualities Your Data Center And UPS Maintenance Provider Should Offer

data center maintenanceAs you prepare to bring a data center maintenance and repair professional into your business, carefully review the services that the provider will offer. Quality work can result in more efficiency and financial savings, while sloppy work can mean significant losses in work and budgeting. Hopefully, the providers that you are considering will be focused specifically on the needs of data centers and will have experience working with UPSs. With this specific focus, the provider will be able to offer better services, recognizing specific issues facing the data center and your UPS.

UPS maintenanceYou should be able to expect a timely response whenever you have trouble with related hardware covered by the contract. Any downtime for your equipment will translate into time and money lost and the potential for dissatisfied customers, meaning a loss of future business. Whomever you have chosen for the maintenance and repair of your data center equipment should have a quick response plan already in place and should be should consistent in responding quickly. When trouble occurs, you need to know that your repair professionals will be able to react immediately.

You’ll also want to find a provider of data center maintenance and repair with the experience to service many different types and brands of hardware. When you find a maintenance and repair provider with the expertise and training to do this job well, you’ll appreciate having a well-rounded engineer who can diagnose problems and provide solutions efficiently and correctly. Choosing a repair service with a broad range of experience is the first half of this task.

The second half involves being sure that within all of that experience is the experience for every type of hardware you have. Be careful that you choose a maintenance and repair provider with experience servicing all of the hardware that you operate. It may be very frustrating and costly to find that the provider, even with a lot of experience, doesn’t have the understanding or ability to fully service all of your equipment. From the UPS equipment and technology to the operating hardware, every component will need to be serviced regularly in order to keep business running smoothly and to prevent major issues from leading to substantial losses.

Expect the data center maintenance and repair provider to be responsible for all of their employees and the provided services. You’ll benefit from knowing where you are at in relation to any repairs or maintenance, the ordering of parts, projected completion time and more. Seek to find a maintenance and repair provider for your data center and UPS who understands the value of prompt and thorough communications.

You understand that in an IT environment, machinery, equipment and hardware evolve and change quickly. Your data center maintenance provider should understand that as well. When the time comes to finalize the contract, be sure that the contract allows you to add or remove hardware whenever necessary.

The costs of including data center maintenance and repair on a consistent basis will be lower than ignoring the preventative service and the suffering from unpredictable malfunctions and lengthy downtimes. After you have done some thorough research, you’ll find the services provided by data center maintenance and repair professionals play an important role in maintaining the efficiency of your business.

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Portable Cooling Units Keep The Data Center From Heating Up

Portable CoolingThe costs of lost data or computer downtime can be catastrophic for a business. Much of this loss may be associated with overheating, or, in other words, the loss of appropriate data center cooling. As businesses and even individual computer users within their own homes have found, overheating computers are a growing problem. The more that society relies upon technology and computers for the movement, sharing and saving of data, the harder hard drives and servers must work. When those systems aren’t carefully monitored, overheating and other problematic circumstances can occur and may lead to substantial losses.

Maintaining your data center cooling is a constant concern. As the data center and its operations grow, the needs for appropriate cooling equipment will also grow. Incorporating portable cooling units specifically designed for use in data centers is a convenient way to keep the cooling system simple. With the complexity that is an integral part of server rooms and data centers, simplicity is part of the cooling system can be a relief for anyone who is involved in operations, maintenance or repairs. As the data center grows, adding portable cooling units is an affordable and simple method of increasing the cooling capacity of the data center’s cooling system.

Portable CoolingToo much heat is a consistent problem in data centers and related facilities. Even though there are already intricate systems and complex equipment put into place for managing the cooling of the center, spot cooling or precision cooling can be managed with portable cooling units. Data center cooling is already an expensive component of data center systems and making adjustments with affordable portable air conditioning units is a much cheaper option than implementing additional permanent pieces of equipment. Furthermore, the fewer pieces of permanent equipment there are throughout the cooling systems, the less the potential for problems and malfunctions to occur.

Modern servers have dramatically gotten smaller over the last several years. Instead of requiring an entire building, the server may fit smoothing into the space generally set aside for a closet. However, the server, still doing the work of the larger machines, is generating a great deal of heat in that small space. The tightly packed spaces housing servers become very difficult places to control heat and maintain the appropriate temperatures. Even during the winter, keeping the space cool is a problem, but during the hot months of the summer, the normal capacity of the data center cooling system isn’t enough to keep the center’s temperatures down appropriately. Portable cooling units can provide the extra boost of cooling power and will fit into many small spaces.

Instead of considering the portable units a temporary part of your data center cooling system, consider them to be a convenient and movable source of emergency cooling, maintenance cooling, spot cooling or seasonal cooling. At times, the portable cooling unit can provide a higher level of efficiency than a permanent unit near the same capacity. This translates into savings in more than one way and every business can appreciate multiple ways to save on cooling, maintenance and other business related costs. Keep business in your data center from over-heating with a portable cooling unit.

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UPS Maintenance For Mission Critical Systems

Keeping Mission-Critical Systems Running With Reliable UPS Maintenance

In your data center you have all the proper planning in place to account for emergencies like a power failure, with a backup uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system to ensure that your mission-critical systems are always running—but is your system ready? If you are not performing regular UPS maintenance, especially on the battery, it may not be ready to go when you need it. Here are a few things you should be doing on a consistent basis to ensure that your UPS system, especially the battery, is ready to power your vital systems when the power goes out.data center maintenance

First, when you install the system, make sure that the UPS can maintain constant contact with the electrical ground. As you are performing your regular UPS maintenance, double-check to see that this is always the case. In addition, it’s important not to overload the UPS, and if you see potential problems during your routine maintenance, remove it from your system until you can repair or replace it. These small steps can save you a lot of trouble down the road.

Inside the UPS there is a battery, which is the most likely part of the system to fail, and in the long-term you will likely need to replace the battery to keep your system running. The system will come equipped with a battery sensor that should alert you when the battery is degrading, but if the sensors are not properly working, the battery can easily fail without you even knowing it. In that case, you won’t find out that you need a new battery until you need the UPS and it’s not working. To prevent this from happening, part of your UPS maintenance plan should include testing the battery sensors at regular intervals. Doing this approximately every six months should be sufficient.

Some of the things that will drain your UPS battery more quickly include exposure to extreme hot or cold temperatures or high humidity, and frequent power outages that tax the UPS. While there is not much you can do about the latter, to prevent the former, your UPS maintenance plan should include regular inspection of the data center facilities to ensure that the environment is optimal for your system.

 

When you do have to replace your battery, it is important to recalibrate the entire system, including the battery sensors and the dwell-time calibration. The process for recalibration will differ depending on your software, but it’s an important step to remember when you install a new battery.

If you are not sure you can perform these types of checks on your own, you may want to consider purchasing a UPS that includes a service contract. If you have a low-end unit, the cost of a service contract may outweigh the cost of simply replacing your entire unit if something goes wrong, but for extensive data centers that require multiple high-end UPS systems, service contracts can be beneficial, especially if the alternative is significant downtime following unit failure, while you are trying to get it back up.

The wrong time to realize that your UPS is not running properly is when you need the backup power supply. Instead of being left with downtime and lost productivity, be sure you have a proper UPS maintenance plan for your center.

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The Importance Of Maintaining Your Data Center Equipment

data center maintenanceYour data center is an important investment in your business, housing all of the equipment and information that keeps your company running from day to day. When you build a new datacenter, it may seem like the project is complete once the construction is over, but ongoing datacenter maintenance for the physical equipment is just as important as the initial build.

Inside your datacenter there are several different physical equipment components—the computers and servers, the racks, furniture, cooling systems, and flooring. All of this equipment is important to include in your regular datacenter maintenance plan. Without regular check-ups in all these areas, your server room can quickly become damaged, and even fail.

First, inspect your datacenter from the ground up. It’s a good idea to regularly inspect the flooring and make it part of your “equipment” maintenance plan, because even if it doesn’t seem like flooring fits in the same category as things like racks and servers, wear and tear on the floor can quickly become a problem for the rest of the things in your datacenter. Check for signs of chipped scratched, or worn areas, and also make sure to regularly clean it to remove dust, rust, and other problems. If you have a cooling system that is tied to the floor (for example, a raised floor that allows proper cooling to take place), inspect that system regularly and make sure that it is still working properly, especially after you have moved items around.

Next, check for dust. Regularly sweeping the floors to keep dust from building up, and also dusting the racks and the equipment, is essential for the long-term viability of the equipment in your datacenter. If your datacenter maintenance plan doesn’t include dusting, add it right away. Also, if your center is off-site and it’s difficult for your IT people to get there regularly, consider hiring a cleaning company to regularly dust and vacuum the entire room.

The equipment racks are not only subject to dust, but also to general wear and tear. Your datacenter maintenance should also include inspection of all racks to be sure there are no loose bolts, cracking, rust, or other damage. If you can spot these things early, you will be able to fix it before the rack collapses and damages all the servers and other equipment in the area. In addition, pay attention to how hot the area around each rack is to be sure all the areas are getting adequate cooling. If it is particularly hot in certain areas, you may need to introduce more cooling systems, or move the racks around until they are properly spaced for adequate cooling.

data center maintenanceFinally, check around for stray furniture. Over time you will probably accumulate pieces of furniture—a small table here, a few chairs over there—that people use when they are in the computer room. In order to properly maintain your datacenter, you want to minimize these items and definitely keep them out of the main walkways. This is good practice to ensure a safe environment and avoid workplace accidents or fire hazards as well.

While you may not have thought about all these things as part of your datacenter maintenance plan to keep equipment running in top form, these small details are just as important as the big equipment.

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Keep Your UPS Performance Up With Scheduled Maintenance

Your uninterpretable power supply or UPS is a series of batteries whose function it is to maintain the flow of power to critical equipments within your data center that are unable to withstand power interruption. Your UPS is also able to shield your data center equipment from blackouts, brownouts, voltage spikes and frequency variations as well as any transient disturbances in incoming power. A majority of your equipment requires uninterruptible power to function properly, which is why your UPS is so critical. Breaks in utility power supply are inevitable, and most equipment will shut down after a few cycles of disruption to their power source. Consequently, your UPS is an essential component of your data center system.

Minimizing disruptions to the power source starts during the power system’s design phase. A reliable power system depends on quality equipment and reliable design. A facility’s UPS should be designed to protect critical and high-tech equipment and to facilitate planned power outages so technicians can perform maintenance.

Preventative UPS maintenance should be a regular occurrence for anyone with a data center. Routine cleaning, testing, and inspection will reduce incidences of downtime and increase the longevity of data center equipment. To achieve optimum results, preventative maintenance should be performed at regularly scheduled intervals. For example, a standard UPS maintenance service plans might include the following maintenance schedule.

data center designVisual inspections of data center equipment could occur on a quarterly basis. If your data center’s backup power system includes a generator, it might be tested at quarterly visits as well. Semiannual maintenance would likely include backup generator testing and checking for liquid contamination effecting capacitors or batteries. At these same visits, UPS equipment and enclosures would be thoroughly vacuumed and cleaned. HVAC equipment would be checked at these visits as well to ensure temperature and humidity are at appropriate levels.

Annual and Biannual inspections should also be incorporated into your UPS maintenance schedule. Annual visits would include thermal scans on electrical connections. These scans verify that connections are tight and are not producing heat. An operational test of the entire system is also appropriate at an annual inspection. Biannual inspections include the testing of UPS transfer switches along with maintenance bypasses and circuit breakers.

This is just one example of a possible UPS maintenance schedule, and is neither exhaustive nor wholly comprehensive in scope. Nevertheless, it gives you a clear sense of the thorough over site and care that your UPS would undergo with such a service plan in place. You can easily imagine how malfunctions and needed repairs would be detected in a timely manner. Many potential problems would be averted completely, as UPS maintenance is highly preventative. The incidence of downtime would be markedly diminished and efficiency would remain at peak levels.

The mere existence of an uninterruptible power supply does not ensure protection from power surges or failures. If you want to be able to rely on your UPS, you must be sure to provide it with routine oversight and care. Regular testing of the UPS will protect data center and institutional equipment from power fluctuations and distortions, and ensure it is operating a peak potential. In so doing, critical systems will be protected and be enabled to operate reliably as well.

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