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Hardware Today — UPSes Heed the Call for Backup Page 2

By Ben Freeman (Send Email)
Posted Jul 26, 2004


SMB-Tailored Solutions

"APC UPSes are known for their rock-solid reliability," Standley said.

APC positions its Smart-UPS line toward the entry server space with line-interactive rack or tower UPSes priced from $200 to $3,000, depending on battery runtime. APC also offers an Online Smart-UPS RT line, with products priced from $2,000 to $7,000.

APC's Symmetra models provide dual-battery redundancy in a single chassis. They are priced from $3,000 to $12,000. "Symmetra UPSes offer N+1 redundancy to maximize network reliability and scalable power capacity to allow a 'Pay as you grow' approach," Standley said.

Software solutions like PowerChute, UPS Network Management Cards, and InfraStruXure Manager further illustrate the breadth of APC's offerings.

MGE gears its online Pulsar EX and Pulsar EX RT UPSes at low-end and midrange servers, respectively. Though MGE doesn't publish exact prices, we found price estimates from around $500 for the Pulsar EX to $1,500 for the EX RT.

Pouchet recommends the Pulsar EX RT for mission-critical or telecom servers. "Pulsar EX RT models are true online UPSes incorporating Digital Quality Power that provides the highest level of power protection with the cleanest waveform and no switching time during power disturbances," he said.

Enterprise-Class Solutions

APC's high voltage small-footprint Symmetra PX provides 10kW to 80kW of redundant power, while the gigantic Symmetra MW models provide a whopping 400kW to 1.6mW. APC also offers on-demand InfraStruXure solutions.

"InfraStruXure integrates power, racks, cooling, and management into a single architecture of standardized pre-engineered components designed to work together seamlessly," Standley said.

MGE recommends its EPS6000 and Galaxy UPSes as "very robust centralized three-phase online UPS systems" that provide up to 800kVA for enterprises.

Pouchet steers customers away from less-efficient "distributed power installations" for enterprisewide deployments. He recommends users "right size" with a large centralized UPS to accommodate planned growth. "While the initial cost might be slightly higher, the cost per kVA after even a modest upgrade quickly proves to be significantly lower," he said, "while the user has the benefit of a much more robust system, reduced operating costs, minimum impact on the computer room, and simplified management from the beginning."

The Best Laid Plans

Ultimately, more important than the actual product is the plan driving it. Even the most complex UPS product can be foiled, and sometimes by a far smaller factor than a natural disaster or terrorist act. Robert Frances Group Principal Analyst Ed Broderick cited an example of problem that once befell a $100 million American Airlines SABRE data center. The server room was filled with the latest and greatest technology on the market, including dual power sources and multiple UPSes, multiple turbine, multiple generators, and "everything backed up 18 ways to Sunday," Broderick noted.

However, "What they forgot to measure," Broderick said, "was the wingspan of a stupid animal." Unfortunately, "both power supplies came together as they entered the data center building — 18 inches apart." This attracted the curiosity of a soon-to-be-crispy 24-inch-wide mammal. "He sat on the power lines and shorted them both out, and they were down for 20 hours. 100 million bucks went up for naught," Broderick said.

The problem, Broderick surmised, was that one less of everything that was needed from the available backup pool actually kicked in.

The moral? Make sure you plan for everything, otherwise, it's "100 million bucks up in flames, for a moose or a rodent."

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