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Protecting your data centre from power outages

Although the emergence of green energies should be making it easier for us to maintain a constant level of electrical power, it seems that trying to align the old with the new may be making us more susceptible to power outages.

People believe power is guaranteed and in this digital world, where our lives and livelihoods rely totally on electricity, any change in the supply can prove catastrophic to homes and businesses.

The recent Electricity Capacity Assessment report, by Ofgem, which assesses the risks to electricity security of supply in Great Britain over the next five years, shows that our desire for power is outstripping the rate we are able to make use of developing renewable energies.

The National Grid is an ageing infrastructure that no longer sees much investment and merging this with green energy sources is proving problematic.

This, coupled with the increased threat of terrorism and cyber-attacks to our power supplies, means we could be seeing a heightened risk of power outages in the future.

Just because power outages may be out of our control doesn’t mean we should bury our heads in the sand about them, however. It is a fear at the forefront of the minds of IT managers around the globe – do we have the capability to cope with a sustained power outage? The answer needn’t be no.

Some simple measures can ensure that a change in power, whether it be a surge, spike, sag or complete blackout, does not mean a loss of business-critical data and a shutdown in your working capabilities.

Any organisation where continuous operation is paramount needs protection for its electrical supply. Even everyday activities, such as someone using the office lift, can cause the power to electrical equipment to sag for a short time. But that time is long enough for hardware to fail, applications to stop running and critical data to be permanently lost.

An uninterruptible power system (or UPS) can provide the back-up capability to protect you and your systems from any electrical interruption. It can also, critically, provide protection from ‘dirty’ mains power to ensure your systems are always running at their optimum output.

The monetary measure of the loss of data and business caused by a power outage is huge, so IT managers must prepare for the worst to ensure they have every eventuality mitigated.

But having all the equipment doesn’t mean you are necessarily sufficiently protected either. Ensuring the correct and full installation of all your power protection equipment is vital. If it is not fitted and set up to the manufacturers’ recommendations, it could – and would – fail you when you need it most.

Remembering to regularly review the protection is just as important too. As data centres grow in size, and technologies improve and modernise, it is imperative to ensure the current cover is sufficient enough to protect the whole system during more frequent and longer lasting power failures.

A few small additions to your infrastructure now – and regular inventories of your systems – will ensure you and your business are protected now and in the future, no matter how often power outages may occur.

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