I was at the Connect show here in Melbourne last week and chatting with Darin Williams from Eaton about the UPS market place. I asked if cloud computing was changing the use of battery backup systems. A UPS is an uninterruptible power supply commonly used to protect computers, phone systems and other electrical devices from power surges and power outages.
Darin made one little comment that made me think differently. He told me the shape of his industry was changing as server consolidation meant that less UPS devices were needed, just like with physical servers, but that they needed to be larger and more sophisticated to manage the soft shutdown of the complex servers, with multiple virtual machines on one physical server.
This complexity has created new opportunities in his market place for sophisticated companies like Eaton to provide better quality software and larger UPSs to a discerning market place.
For the business consuming this technology the good news is that with fewer UPS devices the cost of procurement and management is lower than the previously distributed model. It is, however, more important than ever to get the right system design and implementation to ensure the anticipated result of standby time and soft shutdown of your servers is achieved.
When underlying technology changes it has a knock-on effect in other areas and this needs some anticipation. For example, when these larger UPS devices are installed they may force you to upgrade your power supply in the server room to three phase power. In a commercial data centre this is not a problem, or in a city office building it can just be run in, but if you are in a suburban office or an old building this could be a critical issue with a large cost associated.
Now to take it a step further in the planning phase, businesses can no longer afford to have hours of server outages, this is driving the need to have a business continuity site to fail over to. If your battery power is only just enough to support the shutdown of your virtualised servers you may not have time to fail over to your standby systems. The solution here is to test how long it takes to perform the fail over and then ensure you have enough run time on your UPS system to support the servers and the networking equipment to perform the fail over before shutting down the servers. This will allow you to install the right scale of UPS to ensure your power outage does not have an impact on your clients.
Getting business continuity right is almost impossible for smaller businesses as it is an expensive proposition and is often overlooked. Today cloud computing options give us a number of scalable and more affordable choices to consider as partial solutions to the problem at different price points.
If you have been a little head-in-the-sand over backup and disaster recovery or business continuity now is a very good time to look around at the choices being presented and to reduce the risk your business is taking with its access to data.
There is after all no question that your IT systems are now more important than ever to the smooth operation of businesses. The volume throughput required to make a margin on work these days require much faster processing than ever before. Your IT systems are at the heart of this and require ongoing investment to ensure you are both competitive and safe.
David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that is known for Business IT that makes sense. How can we help?