In this age of critical computing systems and the Internet, business continuity requires that you protect your IT infrastructure from all the hidden threats of the typical facility environment. Every business, no matter how small or large, is at risk.
Take power, for instance. You may only notice power disturbances when the lights flicker or go out, but PCs, servers and network equipment can be damaged by many other power anomalies that are invisible to the human eye, and that degrade equipment over time. Other issues such as heat, security, and human error all compound the dangers to IT systems.
“It’s a hostile world for IT equipment,” says Gary Jameson, Country Manager at Eaton. The most destructive influences on data centres actually come from mundane causes: software error (14 percent), human error (32 percent) and hardware failure (44 percent), frequently triggered by power problems, including power failure, power sages, power surges, brownouts, line noise, high voltage, frequency variation, switching transients and harmonic distortion. “That means that the greatest risks of data loss or system damage are preventable—or at least can be greatly mitigated,” Jameson says.
Public utilities are not required to provide computer-grade power—and they don’t. IT equipment is damaged by subtle anomalies that users never see, such as sags, surges, spikes, brownouts, line noise, frequency variation, switching transients and harmonic distortion. “Power problems are equal-opportunity threats. They hit small businesses as often as big ones, and regardless of the size of the infrastructure, these systems are a significant company asset that deserves adequate protection. A sound power protection strategy is cost-effective insurance.”
Not only will a power protection strategy mitigate risks, the implementation of a strategy to secure an IT infrastructure can save businesses money in the long term too. “Look beyond generators and surge suppressors. These are band-aid solutions for systemic problems,” Jameson says. “Uninterruptible Power Systems (UPSs) go beyond these power-protection strategies while presenting a compelling business case in any commercial environment.”
UPSs protect IT systems by conditioning incoming power to smooth out the sags and spikes that are all too common, providing ride-through power to cover for sags or short-term outages by selectively drawing power from batteries, backup generators and other available sources. “Whatever the application, there’s a UPS configuration available to provide the required performance and features, at a price point to suit all budgets,” Jameson says.
How does a business decide on the type of UPS and power protection strategy appropriate for its needs? Businesses of all sizes can take 10 proactive steps to create a secure environment for IT equipment:
1. Don’t assume your business is too small for protective measures.
2. Treat any IT equipment location as a data centre.
3. Beware of hidden threats in apparently ‘healthy’ power.
4. Determine the level of power protection you need.
5. Provide for backup power during utility outages.
6. Protect IT equipment from overheating.
7. Protect IT equipment from unauthorised access.
8. Manage cables for efficiency and airflow.
9. Protect IT equipment from environmental hazards.
10. Proactively monitor the operating environment.
“With judicious decisions about cooling systems, environmental control, power protection, cable management and monitoring systems—integrated into a well-configured rack or enclosure—you can reduce costs and downtime while resolving the most common threats to IT systems,” Jameson concludes.