Keross: Managed services for UPS and A/C – guarding against disaster
February 2010 by Marc Jacob
Catastrophes, whether for individuals or for companies, rarely come from totally unknown sources. The most common disaster is that some familiar part of the environment which has worked perfectly satisfactorily for years suddenly goes horribly wrong. Because one is used to it working well, a degree of complacency can set in. Everyone locks their doors against possible intruders. Few people have a backup plan if the water supply to their homes fails, since in most countries it almost never happens.
The corporate equivalent is the data center. This is the most critical component of the IT infrastructure. Every data center has critical assets. Few companies can generate revenue for long if their data center is out of action, since the data has become an integral part of the order-processing chain. The data center simply cannot be allowed to fail.
How the unimaginable happens
And yet it does happen. When we visit potential partners, we see a range of different vulnerabilities, but some are very common:
• Electricity supply.
Most companies have an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS). However, despite the name, this doesn’t actually guarantee continuous electricity in the sense that one can forget about the issue; without regular inspection and maintenance it can degrade and fail – typically during nights and weekends.
• Battery efficiency
Batteries decline in efficiency with age. A trial run that showed the UPS could maintain power for a given period can give false reassurance that this is still true years later.
• Air conditioning efficiency
Air conditioning is not necessarily stable and it requires regular maintenance. This is often not done; indeed, in many installations, it is not monitored at all. If the flow of air at the right temperature fails, the customer is forced to interrupt servers to prevent damage.
How to avoid it
All these issues come back to the need for 24*7 monitoring and well-defined processed to control and recover in the event of problems. What we have done with our data centers for customers is develop specialised connectors to collect real-time information from all kinds of UPS, air conditioning and environmental sensors. Based on these inputs, we establish processes with our customers to plan what actions are taken if the readings change significantly. If the customer does not already have the environment sensors, we can install them as part of the service package. The entire installation takes less than half a day and requires no changes to the data center.
Our next step is to find the right partners to offer these solutions in their local markets. We are primarily looking for two types of partner for this:
• IT companies already expert in data center integration who want to provide additional services to their customers. This will in that case be white branded so the partner can maintain their own brand throughout the center.
• Vendors who are not currently running 24*7 data centers but want to provide additional services on top of their support services. They will then be able to provide proactive support 24×7.