We live in a true information age, with cloud-based services taking a firm precedent over traditional IT networks. Terms like “big data”, “internet of things” (IoT), “cyber-security” and “cloud” are frequently used when talking about the dominance of data in the world. Consumers are becoming more information-hungry than ever, devouring social media applications, shopping, banking and working online.
In light of this, organisations are now making plans to address the explosion of enterprise data and how this will affect data-centre operations. Indeed, statistics show that the UK is set to become the biggest data-centre market in Europe by 2020.
By its very nature, the cloud is more efficient than using traditional servers, as it offers a flexible and scalable way of working. By 2017, world spending on the cloud is set to reach more than $100billion, a figure which will more than likely increase as businesses see the benefits of storing information digitally. Efficiency is vital in this data-driven age, with the need to work quickly and with minimum downtime. Even the shortest of power failures can result in large financial losses for a business and so is something that should be prepared for as part of enterprise life. Smart businesses get ready for these instances of downtime by having uninterruptible power supply (UPS) equipment in place.
Explaining this, Leo Craig (left), general manager of Riello UPS Ltd, says: “When the mains power fails, the UPS kicks in to provide instant emergency power – running for a few vital minutes to bridge the gap between emergency generators starting or to allow a controlled shutdown. It also corrects a number of other power problems, such as surge issues, sags and power spikes which are equally as devastating on vital, sensitive equipment.”
The driving force behind the green agenda
The UK government has made clear its commitment to reduce energy consumption by the year 2020. This presents a huge challenge, as data centres storing cloud data typically have power densities more than 100 times that of a typical office building. But no longer can businesses simply tick a box on a form to say they are energy efficient – they must now comply with legislation. The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) obligates large companies to have four-yearly energy audits from which detailed reports on energy use and the efficiency of their organisation are produced.
“ESOS applies to businesses with more than 250 employees or less than 250 employees and an annual turnover exceeding £40million,” says Craig. “Although it should be noted that businesses which are approved to the energy management standard, ISO 50001, do not need to comply or take any actions under ESOS or need ESOS audits. However, they are still required to register with ESOS.”
Another green scheme to encourage businesses to invest in approved energy saving technologies is the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s Energy Technology List (ETL). This is a list of products which may be eligible for 100 per cent tax relief under the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme for energy saving technologies.
“Businesses choosing energy efficient technology from the list can claim tax relief and effectively write off the entire cost of the equipment,” adds Craig. “Riello UPS’s Multi Sentry range features on the list – enabling businesses to claim tax relief of over £52,000 for the largest-sized unit in the range listed.”
Choosing the eco-efficient UPS
Many UPS designs are now built with environmental considerations in mind and there are also new ways of using the devices to save energy. Many are now smart-grid ready and can be integrated with the National Grid. At times of peak demand, the UPS can go off-grid and use energy already stored up to keep the data centre running. Using Lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries with a UPS also presents an opportunity to use the UPS as an energy accumulator, allowing the data centre to again use stored power.
There is certainly industry uptake in the notion of energy storage. Electric car giant Tesla hit the headlines when it announced a Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) Powerwall battery system for storing locally generated electricity. Experts say this technology has the potential to revolutionise the energy systems for homes and businesses.
Maintaining efficiency levels
As with all IT equipment, regular maintenance is an essential part its life – and never more so than for a UPS which needs regular replacement of consumable items such as batteries and fans. Essentially, how a UPS system is maintained over its lifetime will greatly affect its efficiency, how it performs and the length of its useful life.
While planning in regular maintenance inspections for equipment, it is important to consider who carries out these inspections. Within the market there are a number of third-party companies offering maintenance services on UPS equipment who claim to be trained and capable of working on critical power protection systems. But in actual fact, many are not competent to complete the work and some do not even have access to recommended spares. To combat this problem, Riello UPS created a comprehensive network of qualified service engineers designed to protect customers who require competitive third-party servicing and approved spares for their UPS. The Certified Engineers Programme enables customers to cost-effectively check if their chosen maintainers are fully trained and approved to carry out the work on their essential protection systems.
Feeding a power-hungry future
In a world facing uncertainty in its power supply, technologies such as UPS will be key to maintaining continuous operation, particularly for businesses. This technology not only has the power to protect information and equipment but can also smooth the electricity supply and act as an energy generator by feeding power back into the National Grid. If businesses embrace these technologies they will help to power a greener future and a more secure energy supply – keeping the lights shining brightly on business in Britain.