The Problem with Power

We live in the Information Age where countless data is created, transmitted, and stored. We live in the Electronics Age where numerous electric-powered machines aid in business and household tasks, as well as entertain and inform us.

The reality of living in this time of technological innovation is that the power to run these machines can't keep up (at least not yet). In many locations around the world, electricity generation, transmission and distribution have not evolved at the same pace as computer and communications equipment. What was built years ago for powering factories producing manufactured goods is struggling to adapt to provide continuous, sufficient-grade power to sensitive electronics processing valuable information.

What Is a Power Event?

Sags, surges, noise, spikes, blackouts�what really happens to connected devices when they experience a power anomaly? A lightning strike is a frequent example, although it is just one of countless problems that can strike your equipment.

Imagine lightning has just struck a nearby transformer. If the surge was powerful enough, it travelled instantaneously through wiring (AC, network, serial, phone lines and more) with the electrical equivalent force of a tidal wave. For PC users, the surge could have travelled into your computer via the AC outlet or phone lines. The first casualty is usually a modem or motherboard. Chips go next, and data is lost.

For info on different types of power problems and their effects on electronic equipment, click here.

Lightning Facts from APC

The utility responds to overvoltages by disconnecting the grid. This creates brownouts and blackouts. If the voltage drops low enough, or blacks out, hard disks in computing machinery may crash, destroying the data stored on the disks. In all cases, work-in-progress stored in cache is instantly lost. In the worst case, password protection on the hard drives can be jumbled, or the file allocation tables may be upset, rendering the hard disks useless.

The Costs of Downtime

In the Information Age, data is quite valuable. It is the livelihood of businesses across the globe, whether in the form of financial transactions or online purchases or customer demographics or correspondence or spreadsheets or any number of business applications.

The Internet has emphasized that availability equals viability. If companies do not have reliable solutions for the continuing operation of their equipment, they lose money. If one company's Web server goes down due to blackout, customers are apt to click over to a competitor's. If mission-critical computers involved in manufacturing are damaged by a surge, inventory runs behind and schedules are missed. If electronic noise penetrates sensitive testing and measurement machinery, delays are inevitable.

Here are a few statistics that quantify the true costs of systems downtime:


[source: Network Computing (http://www.networkcomputing.com), March 5, 2001]
and
[source: META Group, Inc.,"Quantifying Performance Loss: IT Performance Engineering and Measurement Strategies", November 22, 2000
Clients of META Group, Inc. can read the full Delta Summary here: http://www.metagroup.com/cgi-bin/inetcgi/jsp/displayArticle.do?oid=18750

  • "Electrical interruptions will cost U.S. companies some $80 billion this year (2000)."
    [source: Worldwatch Institute (http://www.worldwatch.org)]
  • "Server downtime costs $108,000 a minute in lost brokerage operations."
    [source: Contingency Planning Research (http://www.contingencyplanningresearch.com), a Division of Eagle Rock Alliance (http://www.eaglerockalliance.com)]
  • "Server downtime costs $43,000 a minute in lost credit card operations."
    [source: Contingency Planning Research (http://www.contingencyplanningresearch.com), a Division of Eagle Rock Alliance (http://www.eaglerockalliance.com)]
  • "Server downtime costs $1,500 a minute in lost airline reservation operations."
    [source: Contingency Planning Research (http://www.contingencyplanningresearch.com), a Division of Eagle Rock Alliance (http://www.eaglerockalliance.com)]
  • "Server downtime costs $1,200 a minute in lost telephone ticket sales operations."
    [source: Contingency Planning Research (http://www.contingencyplanningresearch.com), a Division of Eagle Rock Alliance (http://www.eaglerockalliance.com)]
  • "Half of U.S. corporations rate their internet downtime costs at more than $1,000 per hour."
    [source: Yankee Group (http://www.yankeegroup.com)]
  • "9% of U.S. corporations rate internet downtime costs at over $50,000 per hour."
    [source: Yankee Group (http://www.yankeegroup.com)]
  • "Power outages interrupt operations at 72 percent of U.S. businesses."
    [source: Contingency Planning & Management Online (http://www.ContingencyPlanning.com) and Ernst & Young (http://www.ey.com), 1997]
  • "Power problems (surges and lightning) were the number one cause of desktop computer loss in 1999 and 2000."
    [source: Safeware, The Insurance Agency Inc., (http://www.safeware.com)] a member company of Assurant Group (http://www.assurant.com)]
  • "33.7% of U.S. companies have had business operations interrupted because of lightning storms."
    [source: Contingency Planning & Management Online (http://www.ContingencyPlanning.com) and Ernst & Young (http://www.ey.com), 1997]
  • "31% of computer outages are the result of power failures."
    [source: Contingency Planning Research (http://www.contingencyplanningresearch.com), a Division of Eagle Rock Alliance (http://www.eaglerockalliance.com)]
  • "Power disturbances account for about one third of all server failures."
    [source: IDC (http://www.idc.com)]
  • "* Two-thirds of Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group (SVMG) member company respondents were directly impacted by the rolling blackouts.
    * The average blackout lasted 90 minutes in duration.
    * More than 100,000 workers at SVMG companies were left idle.
    * Immediate financial losses for Silicon Valley are estimated at the tens of millions of dollars, accounting for major effects like employee downtime, lost product and data, and the expense of retooling equipment."
    [source: Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group press release (http://www.svmg.org)]
  • "According to a national survey conducted for Iomega Corporation by Bruskin Research, 57 percent of the Californian computer users surveyed fear loss of computer content due to a blackout or power failure. The survey indicates that 45 percent of computer users nationwide are concerned with losing power due to power problems."
    [source: Iomega Corporation (http://www.iomega.com)]

In order to prevent costs involved with downtime or damaged equipment, businesses and even home owners require solutions from a vendor known for its Legendary ReliabilityTM.