The Basics of Hot Aisle, Cold Aisle Data Center Configurations

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


The Basics of Hot Aisle, Cold Aisle


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


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


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


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


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


Developing an Energy Efficient Data Center



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


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

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


What Security Measures Are Adequate?


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


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


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


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


Authorization and Access


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


Implementing Encryption


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


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



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Effective Grounding Methods in Mission Critical Facilities

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


Corner Grounded Delta


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


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


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


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


Low-Resistance Grounding


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


Solid Grounded


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


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

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Vital Safety Tips for Computer Data Rooms

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


The Importance of Proper Training


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


Inside of the Computer Room


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


Pay Attention to the Outside of the Computer Room


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


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

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These 10 Tips Can Help Boost Power System Availability in Any Data Center

Power systems are a crucial component of every data center. Not only do these systems supply energy to important devices, they can also prevent catastrophe from occurring in the event of an outage. Implementing the following guidelines can help companies avoid the perils of insufficient power systems, which can have calamitous effects on future success.

  1. Consider Utilizing an Uninterruptible Power Supply

Unlike a backup generator, which often entails a delay between when an outage occurs and when standby power is available, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) provides immediate accessibility when the main power supply fails.

In many cases, UPSs are considered a short-term solution used to provide technicians a window of opportunity to properly shut down equipment, while also affording time to save significant data. UPSs can also perform other essential functions within a data center:

  • Ensure Operational Continuity – Even the smallest electrical anomaly can have a dire impact on data storage, as well as equipment. A UPS enables operational continuity by offering a constant source of backup power.


  • Mitigate Impact of Power Surges – A power surge can greatly damage computer equipment, resulting in exorbitant costs for repairs and replacements. In the event of a power surge, a UPS will revert to battery power to avoid damaging expensive devices.


  1. Perform Regular Audits of Power Components


Regularly scheduled auditing of power systems is highly important. Failure to do so can lead to many unexpected occurrences if the main power supply becomes unavailable for an extended period of time.


That’s why IT managers must be fully aware of the limitations of their current power systems. This includes keeping abreast of product specifications, as well as submitting to routine maintenance, which can help expose issues before they become a larger concern.


  1. Implement a Dependable Cooling Device


All data centers should implement efficient cooling solutions to maintain equipment. Generally, IT managers will have a few configurations to choose from, each of which offers distinct benefits depending on the circumstances.


When dealing with extreme heat loads in their computer rooms, a room and rack cooling solution may prove ideal. These systems can handle high-intensity loads of up to 200 watts per sq. foot or more. In situations where equipment is frequently moved around a room, computer room air conditioning can be a good option. This can keep temperature and humidity fluctuations to a minimum, which is important for protecting vital computer components.


  1. Don’t Let Administrative Hurdles Impede Progress


Conflicting administrative departments, each with their own opinions on the way things should be, can sometimes impede necessary modification of power supplies. Implementing procedures for such decision-making can reduce the amount of time spent debating on the best course of action, which usually results in interminable delays and lost business.


  1. Choose the Right Power Distribution Unit for Your Needs


UPSs can also help regulate power distribution to central devices. While these power distribution units (PDUs) can vastly increase power availability within an IT environment, it’s beneficial to be aware of some important distinctions.


Rack-based PDUs convert electrical flow to an adequate level when powering a piece of equipment, which prevents circuitry overloads from occurring. Floor-mounted PDUs receive power from a main source, then distribute this power to smaller devices based on a prescribed process. While rack-based units can be moved freely around a data center, floor-mounted units are usually permanently placed.


  1. Document Power Equipment Changes


Tracking progress can be a great way for a data center to implement new solutions by focusing on what works and what doesn’t. This is particularly relevant as it pertains to the purchase of new equipment, which may not always perform as well as initially expected.


Documenting such changes can offer a concrete assessment of successes and failures relating to power systems. Such documentation can be highly useful in the long term, especially when illustrating to management the need for new or upgraded devices.


  1. Employ Contingency Plans


A suitable contingency plan is fundamental to make certain important processes stay on track. Considerations can range from retaining enough fuel for backup generators to ensuring cooling devices remain operational. Anticipating future needs will prove quite useful should disaster strike.



  1. Replace Outdated Systems


Given the rapid pace of technological changes, it’s important for equipment to be updated regularly. This will ensure optimal performance from your power supply, which is key for the proper maintenance of a data center or computer room.

For instance, UPSs only recently began offering users both high availability and efficient power consumption in the same unit. As a result, companies that purchased previous models may greatly benefit from upgrading to this improved technology. Not only can such upgrades enable better performance from equipment, they can also cut costs drastically by reducing unnecessary energy consumption.

  1. Prioritize Value Over Equipment Cost


Disputes over cutting costs on equipment are common within the IT industry, as purchasing the necessary devices can be quite expensive. While some may prefer a fiscally conservative approach when it comes to power systems, this can actually harm a business greatly. For this reason, those at the helm of an IT department must take the long view regarding overall costs in order to ensure best practices.


  1. Apply Specialized Testing Procedures

Advanced data center testing techniques can shed light on existing vulnerabilities, while also uncovering emerging issues that can become detrimental if left unchecked. These specialized testing methods can also help staff determine if power supplies are functioning at peak-performance.

Such testing can include a number of sophisticated procedures, from facility-rollover testing, which establishes how well emergency power will perform, to infrared thermography, which can identify hot zones within equipment components.

We Can Help You Boost Power and Increase Efficiency

Thanks to our years of experience in the IT industry, Titan Power can help optimize your current power system to allow for more efficient processes overall. For more information on all that we can do for your business, please call today at 1-800-509-6170.

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Reactive vs. Preventative Maintenance: Why Data Facilities Need a Cultural Shift

Today it is not uncommon for data centers, computer rooms, and control facilities to employ an entirely reactive maintenance regimen. At Titan Power, we know that fixing something that isn’t broken can be a difficult sell for companies and facilities managers in any industry. Still, for data centers and related facilities, simply waiting for problems to unfold can be a damaging strategy.


Preventative maintenance may seem like an unnecessary luxury, but in reality, it represents the best possible use of assets. Reactive maintenance introduces unnecessary costs and risks that no business needs to face. Over time, an insistence on reactive maintenance can cost a facility resources and opportunities.


Why Focus on Prevention?


In a comparison of preventative and reactive maintenance, preventative maintenance holds all of the advantages. When you employ this type of maintenance effectively, you will notice tangible gains in your business and operations, including:


  1. Reduced maintenance costs. Preventative maintenance is almost always more cost-effective than reactive maintenance, which often involves fixing multiple problems that arose from one initial problem. When you factor in the cost of hiring emergency help or placing rush orders, the potential for cutting expenses through preventative maintenance is even greater.


  1. Lower overall operating costs. Preventative maintenance can keep your equipment running at peak efficiency, reducing energy usage and associated expenses. Proper maintenance will also extend the lifespan of many of your systems, from generators to blowers. This allows you to save money upfront and long-term.


  1. A safer work environment. Equipment malfunctions or failures can create safety hazards that threaten even the most well-trained staff. Although some incidents simply cannot be foreseen, preventative maintenance can address safety risks associated with wear and tear, improper device use, and inadequate safety settings. Preventing work-related accidents, in turn, can improve productivity and reduce your insurance costs.


  1. A better reputation. Equipment problems that result in downtime or data loss can be costly for any computer room, data center, or similar facility. Winning back client confidence or finding new business after these issues occur can be difficult. Preventative maintenance makes it easier for your business to deliver on its promises, keeping your current client base happy.


Making the shift from reactive to preventative maintenance can be difficult, especially for businesses that are operating on tight budgets or struggling to keep up with current maintenance needs. However, allocating more resources for preventative maintenance, planning ahead for scheduled downtime or repairs, and promoting a culture of prevention can go a long way toward making your business more profitable and successful.


Simple but Effective Starting Points


What areas should you focus on to reduce your need for reactive repairs? It is often easiest to enroll in maintenance programs from established companies or contractors. These programs usually involve regular inspections of key facility systems and components, such as uninterruptible power sources, generators, automatic transfer switches, and HVAC or CRAC systems. During these inspections, experts can identify necessary maintenance based on observed performance issues and manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedules.


Batteries are one of the system components that are worth focusing on during preventative maintenance. Many facility managers are surprised to learn that batteries are a top contributor to system downtime and power loss. Without high-quality, operational batteries, your entire uninterruptible power source or generator can fail. Alarmingly, just one old or bad battery can wreak havoc on a system. Besides scheduling inspections, you may want to partner with specialists who can offer advice on choosing the most reliable replacement batteries.


The Power of Preventative Tests


After your batteries and other system components are in top working order, system testing is a smart next step. Performance testing ensures that the whole system functions as you would expect it to, given the condition of the individual components. Some tests worth considering are:


  • Load bank testing. This ensures that backup generators can produce and maintain their stated power capacity for a minimum of two hours. This testing cleans the generator out and combats functional issues associated with generator underuse. Most facilities should have this testing done annually.


  • Facility rollover testing. This is a broad test to verify that all backup equipment functions as needed following a power failure. This assessment measures how quickly and effectively emergency systems take over supplying power. Annual testing is the bare minimum; for some facilities, more frequent testing is beneficial.


  • UPS acceptance testing. This checks whether your uninterruptible power supply meets manufacturer performance specifications. The tests may involve electrical, mechanical, and load assessments. This testing should be performed within a few days of equipment installation to establish a baseline, and it can be done subsequently as part of a regular maintenance package.


  • Infrared thermography. This measures infrared energy to detect electrical components with abnormal temperatures and a potentially high risk of failure. Infrared thermography can be an effective way to identify various issues, including excessive or uneven loading, loose connections, or short circuits. We offer this service as needed but recommend it as part of normal maintenance.


Although regular inspections and maintenance are often enough to prevent equipment or system issues, these tests can help reveal any overlooked work that may be critical now or in the near future.


Making the Switch to Prevention


Performing the right maintenance and repairs at the right time can help you save money, time, and stress. Responding to problems as they arise, meanwhile, can leave your business vulnerable to financial loss, poor solutions, and disruption. At Titan Power, we have years of experience identifying and heading off potential problems, and we are ready to help you tap into the many benefits of preventative maintenance. To learn more about our maintenance programs or schedule an inspection, call us today at 800-509-6170.



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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!

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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.

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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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