Data Center Journal

VOLUME 44 | JUNE 2016

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Page 22 of 24

20 | THE DATA CENTER JOURNAL $740,357 in 2015—an increase of 38 percent since 2010. e same study found that UPS-system failure continues to be the number-one cause of unplanned outages. Further, data center surveys have shown between 65 to 85 percent of unplanned downtime are attributable to battery failure of some kind. In other words, these outages are completely avoidable with proper bat- tery monitoring and management. e modern data center, with its state-of-the-art technologies, can lose nearly three quarters of a million dollars if the battery system fails. e dichotomy is puzzling. Why is this happening? Unfortunately, most facility managers don't pay attention to their batteries. On average, batteries are replaced in bulk every four years, regardless of their health or per- formance and without any real insight into either—meaning the batteries that fail in less than four years could result in an out- age. Ultimately, this seemingly simple piece of equipment could cost $9,000 per minute of downtime and cripple a facility's backup system with a single bad cell. Of course, resources are also wasted on batteries with a longer life cycle. e reality is that the life cycles of batteries vary greatly, and a data center simply cannot afford to depend on blind mass replacements or continue a reactive approach to asset management. With the rise of the IoT, some organi- zations are incorporating smart technolo- gies into their data centers. ese technolo- gies are implemented to track the real-time status of components and environmental measurements to keep operations flowing smoothly. Sensors that measure tempera- ture, humidity and electricity combined with network infrastructure help data centers maintain uptime. Although they represent a significant up-front cost, these monitoring systems can signal when a bat- tery reaches a certain temperature, ohmic value or voltage and is at risk of failure. In- deed, with the proliferation of IoT devices, data centers now have increased visibility into their infrastructure. Still, even with increased use of these systems, alarms are oen ignored, and a continued lack of focus on collected data remains. is situation isn't surprising, as operators are under increased pressure to conduct daily management tasks while developing growth strategies. Overlook- ing the status of these batteries, however, not only places the data center at risk, but it also prevents an operator from realizing the full value of their battery investment. To gain value from their monitor- ing systems, facility managers must have trained personnel to manage the collection, reporting and interpretation of the data. ese same individuals are also respon- sible for integrating changes to various operational processes and policies affected by these insights. ese tasks are oen delegated to facilities staff with the respon- sibility of maintaining all mechanical and electrical infrastructure. Although the insights available in a monitoring system could predict an outage, the "jack-of-all- trades" engineer typically lacks the training or time to analyze the data. the future of data center spendIng While continuous monitoring of batteries can ensure protection, it requires a large capital investment and adds even more equipment to maintain. In addi- tion, staff must be trained to interpret data generated by the monitors. As a result, facility managers increasingly outsource these responsibilities to experts. Not only does this approach align expertise with responsibilities, but it frees data center resources to focus on core infrastructure and operations. Monitoring firms typically special- ize in a particular hardware or soware. Doing so provides depth of understanding and knowledge that the jack-of-all-trades engineer simply cannot match. In addition, the firm's perspective is enhanced with data from numerous clients as well as a volume of situations, circumstances and varia- tions that individual operations teams can't access. ese benefits are the basis of their expertise and potential value to data center operators. A battery-management service, for example, removes the up-front capital required to purchase a monitoring system while providing a dedicated specialist. ese specialists are trained to review battery-performance data and compare it with historical data, thus revealing insights to predict issues before they occur. is "predict and prevent" method not only reduces risk of outages, it extends battery life by preventing premature removal of the assets before they're at true end-of-life. By understanding equipment circumstances at a much more detailed level, in addition to using recorded and measured experience, facilities are increasingly able to support uptime objectives. is added insight into the health of their systems also reduces overall cost of maintenance. As data center technologies continue to advance and transform the industry, businesses must adapt accordingly or risk being le behind. Facility managers will continue to shi toward "as a service" platforms—from cybersecurity to asset management—as they seek to optimize costs and performance while fulfilling mas- sive enhancements for 2016 and beyond. n about the author: Tom Mertz has spent the last 22 years serving in various leadership roles in the mission-critical industry. Joining Canara, Inc., as CEO in June of 2014, Tom is leading the team to implement a growth plan that taps into the industry's need for more proactive and effective management solutions for backup power systems. Before Canara, Tom was the executive vice president for the Enterprise Division of QTS, which owns, operates and manages a national portfolio of world-class data centers. He also spent 10 years at Lee Technologies, where he was instrumental in leading that company's transformation from a product-based sales organization into a leading solutions provider focused on the mission-critical industry. Tom holds a Bachelor of Science degree in public and urban affairs from Georgia State University with continued leadership education at Emory's Goizueta Business School and George Mason University.

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