Data Centers

Delivering power via UPS

One of Louisville Kentucky’s largest employers is UPS – United Parcel

Service. UPS, of course, is famous for its brown trucks and the ability to

deliver just about any package you want, anywhere on the globe you want. When

you put a UPS in your server room, the hope is that it will continue to deliver

power when the power company can’t. 

Recently, I got a call from a company I’ve done consulting

for. They’ve been having intermittent power problems and the main breaker to

the building has been blowing out. Even though my grandfather started his own company

as an electrician over 50 years ago, the wiring wasn’t what they called me

for. Instead it was the server that kept crashing.

When the company purchased its new server system, the vendor

was smart enough to recommend a UPS for the system. The customer told me the

server however would go right out when the power went out, even though the UPS

was less than a year old.

I suspected it just might not be plugged in properly. Often

people will plug equipment into the Surge Only line of a UPS and not use the

battery-backup side. Instead what I found was something completely different.

It turned out the vendor was smart enough to supply a UPS,

just a very tiny one. Supporting a Dell PowerEdge 1420, a flat panel display,

router, hub, and fiber optic hub was a puny APC 350. Not only that, there was

no connection between the UPS and the server. So, after about 3 minutes when

the battery was exhausted, rather than elegantly shutting the system down, the

entire thing came to a crashing halt.

This is one of the things I’ll never understand about some

consultants. Here the vendor had suggested and recommended a system that was

worth over $5000 at the time, and they protected it with a $40 UPS. And they didn’t

even bother to hook it up properly when they did. What are some people thinking


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