04-21-16 | Blog Post

Lessons learned from bringing a new UPS online

Blog Posts

UPS data centersThis month, we brought a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) online at our Mid-Michigan data center. We maintain an N+1 redundancy configuration there and with the rapid growth in the amount of data we were hosting, we brought another UPS online to help carry the load and maintain our redundancy.

In order to make this a successful event, there was a lot that had to be done. There were four different vendors onsite to help bring the UPS online. This involved switching over to generator power, bypassing the current UPS systems, testing the new UPS and bringing everything back to normal operations.

It may sound simple but it’s a long, arduous and potentially dangerous task to complete. There are risks from equipment shorts that not only can affect the systems that house critical data, but physical dangers from electrocution, arc flashes, shrapnel and molten metal. This isn’t a task to take lightly, and there were over 25 steps total that had to be performed to complete the work safely.

First, the electric load was switched to generator power to safely maintain clients’ critical systems during the entire testing process. After that was done, the UPS systems were bypassed internally and externally and taken offline. Since we hadn’t used this UPS before, we wanted to make sure it was in proper working order first, and we wanted to test it without endangering the load of the other UPS systems. After it was tested successfully, all the systems were brought back online and returned to normal operations. All of this had to be done without losing power to the critical servers that are hosted in the data center.

If you own your own UPS system, this is something you’ll almost certainly need outside help for. That labor and expertise doesn’t come cheaply, either. To operate and maintain a system similar to our 1500 KW one, you can expect to easily pay upwards of one million dollars.

Do you have the money, time and staff to add more power? Even if you have what you need, is it the best use of your budget?

UPS maintenanceThis is a lot for any business to worry about, especially those who aren’t in the business of electrical engineering. This is why leveraging the resources of a managed service provider is so appealing for many businesses. It’s their job to worry about all of that for you.

Our process lasted from about 11:30 PM to 4 AM. It was a late night for our staff and vendors, but we are happy to report we now have the power capacity to serve our clients for many years to come!

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