Questions

Server room power backup

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Server room power backup

I've been tasked with creating a backup power plan for our server room. We have three tower servers and really only one of them is mission critical. We also have the router, firewall, and phone system which will need to remain on during a power outage. We need at least the one server to be able to stay up through any outage...our most recent power outage was about three hours but I suppose we should be prepared for anything. Any recommended hardware as far as battery backup, generator, etc?
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brian
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yeah, a big generator would be recommended for that application (something that sits outside and runs off diesel like you see hidden in many large city parks)...by using a generator in theory you could run the critical systems indefinatly (as long as you have a fuel supply).

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robo_dev
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At a high level, you need to determine exactly how much power your devices require and how much runtime you need. And you need to figure out your budget.

Off the top of my head, when you say 'any outage', that takes the price tag from several thousand to many tens of thousands.

For a couple of thousand, a nice rack-mount 3KVA UPS for your server would probably run it for a couple of hours, and another 3KVA unit would run most phone systems for an hour or so.

APC makes a product line called Symmetra that is scalable, you just add more battery modules.

http://www.apc.com/tools/ups_selector/index.cfm

Some phone systems, especially legacy ones, need a lot more power than 3KVA. However most legacy phone systems already have a UPS built into the cabinet.

If you're talking about 'any outage', then you would need a generator with fuel tank (or natural gas supply), an automatic transfer switch, a bank of batteries, and the related chargers, etc. etc. Easily well over $30-40K.

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OH Smeg
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May be a starting point for you

http://www.apc.com/sizing/selectors.cfm

Click on UPS enter your Country and then fill in the forms and you have a basic starting point.

But the reality is first you need to know how long you are planning for a Power Outage and how much power that you need for what has to be run. Most long term Mains Replacement involves Generators or Solar Arrays depending on your location on the globe.

Col

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TobiF
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Define a diesel, which will be able to keep everything running (with margins, of course.)

Next figure out, what is the longest time needed to start the diesel. This time you need to cover with UPS. (again, with good margins, obviously, since systems tend to grow over time)

If your system is really important, don't forget about redundancy. Either 2 units, each of which can cover all the need, or 3 servers, for half the total capacity each.

For servers, which are not mission critical, it may be enough to have UPS cover enough time for an emergency back-up of live data and/or controlled shut-down.

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jck
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If you need a solution to maintain uptime no matter what, your solution is going to have to be a power generation system.

You'd be able to get away with something pretty basic. You don't have tons of stuff to keep online. You will just need to work with some firm to make sure you have an auto-start system in place that will kick in the generator in the event of an outage, and provide power to the facility for a period of time after the power returns from the grid.

It's not a cheap solution (compared to battery backup). But for mission-critical systems that could be without mains power for 1 hour or more, backup generation is the best option to ensure you can stay up for longer periods of time.

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robo_dev
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You still need a UPS of sufficient size to carry the load until the generator can start and get up to speed.

A generator allows you runtime that is only limited by your access to fuel, but it's not an either-or solution.

If you've got a generator, you may be able to save a couple of dollars on the UPS, since your power requirement will be for much less runtime. However, you still need enough UPS to carry the load and provide power to the automatic transfer switch.

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Well I've decided to get the quotes for a generator that can power the entire server room, but not the rest of the building. The electrician was here yesterday scouting out what we would need to do to hook it all up. I'm thinking that a ten minute battery back up should be sufficient with the generator. Does that sound good?

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TobiF
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Even if your office is manned 24/7, it would be good to have a little bit more margin, in case you need to manually restart the generator (or refuel it).

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robo_dev
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OH Smeg
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I remember the very Famous Failure of the Backup Generator during the Moon Landing where it had been serviced but the Injector Pump not Primed so that when the power failed the Generator didn't have any fuel in the Injectors to start.

Could be in the same situation if it's never serviced the fuel goes stale and is no longer capable of running the engine.

Col