Powerhouse

Always on

Lately, we've seen the issue of power cuts due to UPS disruptions pop up in the news regularly. In this article, Managing Director Richard Boogaard explains how UPS clusters are set up in our data centers and what is our approach to minimizing disruptions.
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Smartdc Rotterdam has two powerhouses, each with its own redundant UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) cluster, ensuring that the data center never goes dark. A UPS has several batteries providing the data center with a constant AC power supply, which is necessary to prevent any equipment malfunctions or provide electricity when the power grid is down.

Minimal chance of a power outage

The UPS clusters can provide the data center with around 15 minutes of power to bridge the time between when the power grid goes down and when the generators kick in. Since the generators are always warmed up, it only takes them 15 seconds to take over the data center power supply. Smartdc is the only data center connected to the industrial 23kV power grid. This grid was installed for the Port of Rotterdam and has more documented uptime than the ‘regular’ 10kV grid for homes and businesses. As a result, the chances of a power outage are minimal.

UPS on standby

A UPS cluster can be set up in various ways. Many UPSs have a ‘green’ or standby mode, which dramatically improves a data center’s power efficiency, saving as much as tens of thousands of euros per year. If a UPS has been configured for standby, power from the grid is delivered directly into the data center. If the power goes down, it takes a brief moment to switch over before the UPS becomes active.

The main disadvantage of this switching time is that servers see it as a disruption and go down, which may cause databases to freeze, requiring repairs to bring the company back online. To prevent that, we have chosen to use the ‘always on’ mode for our UPS systems. Although less efficient, this mode poses no risk at all to our clients.

Smartdc: Always on

Another advantage of the ‘always on’ mode is that the batteries are continually in use. That way, any malfunctioning batteries can be identified straight away and replaced whenever needed. In the ‘always on’ mode, power goes through the UPS first and is rectified before traveling to the suites.

Maintenance

The batteries in our UPS clusters are subject to periodic checks thanks to the monitoring software. Our engineers also manually inspect the batteries using a heat camera: damaged or worn-out batteries emit more heat and are replaced as a precaution. Finally, Schneider Electric, our UPS supplier, conducts periodic maintenance of the systems. Since our UPS clusters are connected in parallel in several strings, we can replace batteries when needed with no downtime occurring. Our UPS systems are equipped with an extensive built-in control and reporting system, ensuring that the batteries are regularly used to (almost) full capacity, allowing us to identify any wear-and-tear or other issues quickly.

Want to find out more?

Take a tour of one of our data centers and see our UPS systems for yourself. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions!

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