It’s a mod, mod world

Modular UPS (uninterruptable power supply) can prevent costly downtime in data centers

One of the defining differences between the 20th century world and our 21st century life is that now we’re spending a lot less time and money on repairing things and focusing instead on simply swapping out faulty devices.

In the 1950s and 60s, if your television stopped working, you called a TV repairman who would come to your house, tinker with the innards of your set and possibly even take the chassis back to his workshop for a few days, shutting down your TV watching in the interim. If your car stopped running, it might hang on a lift in the gas station’s garage for days while a mechanic diagnosed and repaired the problem.

Today nearly every home has several TV sets. If one in the living room goes bad, it can be replaced with a spare from the bedroom or an inexpensive new one. Car problems? The garage can diagnose the issue in minutes, then change out a circuit board or microchip and you’re on your way.

We live in a modular world, one where it’s often more expensive in terms of dollars and lost time to open up a device and repair its small components than simply to plug in a new one. The data center is no exception to this phenomenon, especially in the arena of uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

Downtime equates to mission failure for the most vital of data centers, so shutting down a portion of the center’s operations for hours while waiting for a service technician to fix or replace a UPS is frequently not an option.

Fortunately, technology has evolved to meet the data center industry’s requirements for speedy, affordable UPS replacement through modular systems. Rather than the dedicated systems of the past that locked data centers into fixed amounts of power capacity, whether they ultimately needed that amount or not, new modular systems are extremely flexible. These modules can serve as standardized building blocks that can be easily moved around the data center as missions and power demands change. In the most advanced technology, each UPS module contains all the power distribution and energy storage components required for operation, so modules can be swapped out with no interruption to service.

As a result, UPS systems now can be built around a frame that contains multiple UPS devices. If one fails, the others take over without any interruption for repair. The faulty UPS can be removed and sent out to be fixed while the remaining devices provide plenty of protection. Or a new module can be plugged into the frame in a matter of just 10 to 15 minutes.

Consequently, power protection systems can be built for existing needs and scaled up later as the data center grows. That capability provides immense flexibility to data center designers and operators, enabling them easily to scale the data center up or down for the tier level of service that current clients require.

Be sure you’re achieving the lowest total cost of ownership for your UPS devices with standardized modular systems that can be quickly replaced, leaving the repairman to tinker in his shop, rather than in yours.

Image credit: Evert F. Baumgardner – National Archives and Records Administration.

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About the author

Elina Hermunen

I am a technology enthusiast with 10+ years of experience in the power protection industry. I have a university degree in electronics engineering and have worked with UPS solutions since 2001. After working as an R&D engineer for a few years, I wanted to get closer to customers to better understand their needs and the forces driving our business. Since then I have had different roles in product management and marketing. I joined ABB in early 2013 and currently am responsible for product management and marketing at ABB Power Protection.
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