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How upgrading your UPS can be a revenue-generating move

Sitting quietly within the corporate data centre, uninterruptible power supplies are the kind of thing you think about only when they’re needed.

Providing back-up power during mains outages, they can often fly under the radar when it comes to planning equipment upgrade cycles writes Gordon Makryllos, Managing Director – Australia/New Zealand, Eaton.

In many ways, a UPS can be likened to a car. If you routinely check under the hood, replace vital fluids and rotate the tires, it’s reasonable to expect a car will last up to 15 or 20 years.

A properly serviced UPS will deliver much the same lifespan. But what if a new car promised significantly better mileage and lower maintenance costs? If switching to a new vehicle could actually put money back in your pocket, upgrading makes much more sense. When you consider recent advancements in power protection technology, the prospect of a new UPS creating a financial return for your organisation is a very real possibility. Technological improvements During the past decade there have been significant improvements in UPS technology.

As a result, even though an existing unit may be operating reliably, an organisation could be missing out on significant benefits.

For example, modern UPS units are equipped with sophisticated software that can gauge performance and predict future problems. They offer energy-saving operating modes, virtualisation capabilities and have LCD touch screens that offer fast access to operating information. Of all the features offered by a modern UPS, the three that will have a direct impact on revenues are power factor, efficiency and footprint.

  1. Power factor Power factor, defined as the ratio of real power used to do work and the apparent power supplied to the circuit, is presented in values ranging from 0 to 1. Newer UPSs can offer a real power rating of 1.0 or 100 per cent – also known as unity power factor. Units with a unity power rating can be instrumental in helping organisations produce more revenue. For example, a legacy 400kVA UPS with a 0.9 power factor rating would deliver 360kW of real power to support 900 servers. However, a newer 400kVA UPS offering a unity power rating would power 1,000 servers with its 400kW of real power. This improvement would enable a hosting provider to support an additional 100 servers, resulting in a potential revenue increase of $US80,000 per month, or $US960,000 per year.
  2. Efficiency The annual cost of electricity to run a modern data centre can equal or exceed the capital cost of the equipment within it. As a result, high-efficiency UPSs have been capturing increasing attention. Newer-model UPSs boast considerably higher energy efficiency ratings than their legacy counterparts, and increases of as little as 3 per cent translate to hefty revenue boosts if the freed up power is used to run additional servers. For example, a new 400kVA UPS operating at 97 per cent efficiency will realise annual power savings of 21kW – or more than $USD18,000 – when compared with a similarly sized legacy UPS operating at 94 per cent efficiency. This 3 per cent efficiency benefit doesn’t just translate to utility cost savings, but also potentially frees up power for an additional 52 servers. According to estimates, this could enable a hosting provider to boost monthly revenue by anywhere from $USD41,600 to $USD67,600.
  3. Footprint While in years past it was extremely rare for UPS units to occupy space on the data centre floor, more recently organisations have tended to shift their power protection equipment out of the basement and into the heart of the data centre. Indeed, best-practice guidelines now recommend that UPSs be situated as close as possible to the mission-critical devices they support.

As a result, power protection solutions are becoming increasingly common in the data centre white space, making their footprint more important than ever. Even if the decision is taken to continue to place UPS devices in the traditional grey space, smaller units allow facilities to be designed with smaller electrical rooms which in turn allows more space to be made available in the white space for money- generating equipment.

Every square metre of saved space translates into increased revenue opportunities, so it is important to understand the financial benefit of replacing a legacy UPS with a new unity factor model of the same kVA rating. Experience shows the smaller footprint of a new UPS and its ancillary cabinets can free up around 1.5 square metres, or room for two more racks.

This means an organisation could add anywhere from 20 to 52 extra servers just by upgrading its UPS. While an existing data centre UPS may still have operational life left, significant advances in technology make a compelling case for upgrading. Considerable revenue opportunities can be realised by deploying a new UPS, so adding it to your list for review and upgrade makes clear financial sense.

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