Networks Europe Issue 19 January/February 2019 - Page 31

MICRO DATA CENTRES By Alex Emms, Operations Director, Uninterruptible Power Supplies Ltd. How micro data centres are facilitating the IoThings and help to tackle the challenges it presents A traditional IT model typically comprised offices full of people typing on keyboards and generating data – and those same offices accessing the results yielded from processing that data. In such circumstances, having a colocated, large-scale data centre to provide the necessary IT resource made perfect sense. Services such as security, environmental control and clean, uninterrupted electrical supply could be rationalised. The data centre represented a single entity to be managed, yet all its equipment, including its environmental conditioning and UPS systems, could be scaled to meet the high-volume demands of its office clients. Impact of the IoT on data centres The advent and growth of what’s loosely called the Internet of Things (IoT), however, is profoundly changing this model. Data generating devices, whether they’re wearable objects, mobile phones or laptops, or remotely-located items from vending machines to drones, traffic sensors and telemetry systems, are spread across a wide geographical area rather than being concentrated within a single office, or offices. These are often called Edge devices because of their position within the IoT network. And transmitting data over great distances from their remote locations to a large, centralised data centre doesn’t make technical or economic sense. The major reason for this relates to the continuing rapid proliferation of IoT-connected devices; a June 2018 forecast from Juniper Research estimates that the total number of IoT sensors and actuators will exceed 50 billion by 2022. The sharply increasing volume of data being created by this will tax networks to the limit; the implications for network availability are a serious concern for any of the devices’ operators. An alternative and better approach is to split and distribute the necessary IT resource, providing it as much smaller, so-called micro data centres located close to the edge devices in their various remote locations. This brings other key advantages – particularly improved latency – by eliminating the data’s long, two-way network journey. Local users and devices will see a faster, more reliable response to their input. Data security also becomes easier to manage. Additionally, smaller data centres can be more flexible and mobile – an important benefit in an environment where IT demand can change rapidly. These data centres, while reduced in size, cannot forego any of their larger counterparts’ performance. High availability remains critical, as does good energy efficiency. Given their dynamic environment, scalability is also essential. And all of this must be provided within a compact footprint that includes all necessary security, cooling and protected power facilities. It follows that these data centres will require UPS that are scaled-down, yet also offering the same availability, energy efficiency, scalability, communications capability and serviceability as their large-scale equivalents. As micro data centres can range from a single rack to multiple racks, with power consumption of up to 20 kW or sometimes considerably more, both single-phase and three-phase UPS systems can be relevant. UPS choices for data centres Typically, suppliers that offer large-scale UPSs – capable of delivering solutions of up to 5MW – may also provide various smaller UPS models, covering both single-phase and three- phase. Together, these provide a choice of performance, specifications and power ratings suitable for many diverse micro data centre designs. If your requirements allow it, you could opt for a single- phase solution, configured as a compact tower or 19in rack-mounted unit. This would provide a cost-effective single-phase output with common options providing 1 to 10kVA. Larger capacities, or N+n redundancy, can be achieved by connecting up to four units in parallel. Equally, availability can be enhanced by ‘hot-swap’ battery design, which is available through some suppliers and allows battery changing without interrupting power to the critical load. Efficiency is typically high, at up to 94% during normal operation for this type of solution, or 98% if operated in Eco-mode. 31