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Planning for unplanned outages

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It takes vigilance to keep the data center up and running

The Ponemon Institute’s 2016 Cost of Data Center Outages study shows that the cost of unplanned data center outages is rising fast. Sponsored by Emerson Network Power, the report finds that the average cost of a data center outage has increased from $505,502 in 2010 to $740,367 today. That’s a 38 percent rise in just five years!

Other key findings include:

  • Downtime costs for the most data center-dependent businesses are rising faster than average.
  • Maximum downtime costs for 2016 are $2,409,991.
  • Maximum downtime costs increased 32 percent since 2013 and 81 percent since 2010.
  • UPS system failure continues to be the number one cause of unplanned data center outages, accounting for one-quarter of all such events.

The final point, while surprising, is simply human nature in action. Once installed, a UPS system and its components fall victim to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, especially in smaller data centers. A little proactive monitoring and maintenance of your system will go a long way toward eliminating unplanned outages in your operation. Zones can connect you with data center specialist who can help you assess your system’s current risk profile and show you a number of enhancements and maintenance strategies to make sure you stay up and running.

Keep your uninterruptible power supply uninterruptible

The expected lifespan of the valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) battery in an APC by Schneider Electric UPS is 3 to 5 years under recommended conditions; however, this life expectancy will fluctuate greatly depending on a few key factors:

Unit Placement  UPS equipment should be installed in a temperature controlled environment, away from open windows or areas that contain high amounts of moisture. And the ventilation openings at the front, side or rear of the unit must not be blocked. 

Maintenance  Most single-phase UPS batteries are classified as “maintenance free”. But that can lead to inattention or complacency. A maintenance-free battery only means that these batteries don’t need replacement fluid. But proper care and monitoring of your batteries are essential if you want the protection you paid for.

Ambient Temperature  All batteries have a rated capacity based on specific operating conditions. The rated capacity of a UPS battery is based on an ambient temperature of 77°F.  While a UPS will operate in varying temperatures, battery performance and lifespan will be diminished. In general, for every 15°F above the ambient temperature of 77°F, the life of the battery will be reduced by 50 percent. That means a data center temperature of 92°F puts your equipment at significant risk. And there are many small and remote office data centers that routinely see such temperatures.

Cycling A battery can only undergo so many discharge/recharge cycles before it reaches the end of its usable life, and must be replaced. Each discharge and subsequent recharge will slightly decrease the relative capacity of a battery. The length of the discharge cycle will determine by how much a battery’s capacity is reduced.

Like most data center equipment, batteries last the longest, and provide the best performance are consistently when given proper best management and care.

APC’s Availability Index Calculator

The Availability Index Calculator can help you understand your company’s likelihood of business process downtime due to power. It should take less than 5 minutes to complete the 20 questions and review your results.

Access the Availability Index Calculator »



Learn More »


Further Reading:

View and download these ungated APC white papers:

Practical Options for Deploying Small Server Rooms and Micro Data Centers »

Efficiency and Other Benefits of 208 Volt Over 120 Volt Input for IT Equipment »

Technical Comparison of On-line vs. Line-interactive UPS Designs »


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