Electrical Technology: Best IT Practices Come From Outside the IT Box

July 19, 2002
Most companies today are sensitized to the need for utmost reliability. They just need expert guidance on how to get and stay there. Unfortunately, smaller and mid-sized companies frequently turn to an IT software or hardware vendor not only for advice but to actually design data centers. Without in-house competencies, those vendors parcel the job out to several engineering sub-consultants who may be scattered across the country. Each of those axis points can introduce a separate concept of reliability, producing further loss of control and weakening overall reliability. In such cases, no single source is applying industry best practices to the facility as a whole, looking at all aspects of engineering, construction practices, facility maintenance, and operations. The requirements of the end-user should drive the design, but instead they usually get a cookie-cutter installation with overspending on one component at the expense of overall balance and reliability.In one typical case, a data center was equipped with a very high-reliability UPS system (six-nines) surrounded by a three-nines electrical system with multiple single points of failure. In assessing and benchmarking their needs, we set a facility target of four-nines and reengineered and balanced the systems to follow suit. The “gold-plated” components of the UPS were deleted, but the overall reliability of the system was increased by balancing the capital costs across the electrical system.

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