By Joan PlanteMany power protection options, such as UPS, surge suppressors, and power conditioners, are available to the facilities manager. This equipment may fit the needs of many applications ranging from single PCs to the protection of a facility’s sensitive equipment. Although monitoring and control software offers even more choices, it also requires that more decisions be made. In the past, each UPS vendor’s software controlled its own hardware; today, however, some software will recognize and control different brands of UPS.According to David Saliaris, director of Liebert’s Monitoring Group, Columbus, OH, the company’s line of communications software and hardware provides multiple options for each level of power protection. Its Multilink provides UPS status reporting and automatic orderly shutdown of computers for network managers. An MIS manager might use the SiteScan Centralized Monitoring system to cover critical uptime needs. Interface/control modules with software communicating to a host computer link environmental and power units with alarm management plus status reports. SiteScan uses an in-band/out-of-band redundant communication strategy that assures emergency contact with administrators or the equipment manufacturer in the event of network failure.What else is new? Tripp Lite, Chicago, offers the Watchdog System to ensure availability of all unattended systems, local or remote. The Watchdog System monitors and restarts both critical services and the operating system within user-defined thresholds. If a service is unresponsive or operating outside of the thresholds, the Watchdog application automatically restarts the service (or, if not, reboots the operating system) and e-mails system administrators of the event. This application can be used in commerce, security, and communications settings (i.e., remote e-mail servers, retail kiosks, e-commerce web servers, or security systems using entrance/exit with audio/visual or keycard recognition). Mike Delgrosso, Tripp Lite’s director of Software Development, notes that the Watchdog System offers the ability to react to service and operating system failures through automatic service and operating system restart capabilities.From American Power Conversion (APC), West Kingston, RI, there is news of Enterprise Manager v3.0 – a new software application to manage real-time, enterprise-level power management. It allows facility and MIS/network managers to monitor their power protection equipment by launching a web browser on a desktop computer. According to APC senior product manager, C.J. Meiser, the Enterprise Manager can monitor both large three-phase facility UPS as well as smaller UPS used by network managers to protect servers and workstations. Another feature is its ability to provide detailed device status and inventory reports for all the UPS systems on the network.Facilities managers should be prepared to first review their facilities’ power protection by performing an inventory of equipment hardware and software. It is crucial to audit the basic communications capability and flexibility in each piece of protected equipment at each site. After getting all the stakeholders together, the mix and match of solutions needs to be balanced in a cost-effective manner that still lends peace-of-mind to critical operations. This is not a simple balancing act, and may be outsourced to value-added service providers or vendors. Ultimately for power protection to be successful, it must be made an active process of overall facility management.Joan Plante is a senior analyst at Venture Development Corp. (www.vdc-corp.com), Natick, MA.