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Hurricane Season UPS Checkup

According to the National Weather Service, hurricane season begins on May 15 for the Pacific and on June 1 for the Atlantic – mere weeks away. Given the various weather events we’ve had the last few years, including  Hurricane Sandy, this seems like a good time to make sure your data center house is in order and ready to withstand an outage.

A crucial link in the reliability chain is your uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems. When the power goes out, it's the UPS that tides your IT and cooling systems over till your backup generators kick in. In some cases, you may be relying on UPSs alone to get you through an outage.
Given that, you need to ensure your UPSs are up to the job. And by my calculations, many of them are not.

More than 20 million APC single-phase UPSs are installed worldwide. Many of them are older models and by my estimates, more than a million Smart-UPS systems are currently in need of a battery replacement. Like car batteries, UPS batteries don’t last forever. We recommend they be replaced every 3 to 4 years, depending on various conditions. One of those is temperature – if it’s too hot the battery will drain faster.

All APC by Schneider Electric UPSs have a low-battery warning indicator light, but often the systems are not in clear view, maybe sitting behind a desk, in a rack or in a server room where the blinking light just blends in with so many others. All too often, the owners of those UPS systems have little idea that the battery may be in need of replacement.

The exception is those who have managed UPSs, such as the APC by Schneider Electric Smart-UPS. Many models have a comprehensive alphanumeric LCD display which provides real-time status updates and alerts when battery life is getting low.

The devices also have a smart slot where customers can install the APC Network Management Card (NMC), which enables secure monitoring and control of the UPS via web browser or any management system that supports SNMP. You can remotely manage the devices from a central location – or have one of our partners do it for you. Then you’ll be alerted to issues such as low battery life and will gain greater control over energy use and environmental conditions, with the ability to reboot hung devices and schedule the shut down of connected devices or entire UPSs during an extended outage or non-business hours.

It’s also a good idea to periodically take stock of any changes in your IT environment in the years since your UPSs were installed. There's a good chance your IT load has increased, meaning a larger UPS, additional batteries or units maybe needed to support the increased load and maintain desired runtime.

You may also find that some equipment has become more critical. For example, if you’re utilizing cloud-based applications and resources, the network equipment that provides a connection to the cloud suddenly becomes far more important for business productivity. To ensure continuity choose a UPS that will give you enough runtime during an extended power outage.

We can hope that this hurricane season is a mild one, but we can’t count on it. With only a few weeks till the season begins, now is the time to take a comprehensive look at your UPSs and make sure they can withstand whatever Mother Nature may have in store.

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