equipment specifications figure at the bottom of the procurement
priority list among many enterprises worldwide, feels Torgny
Sandberg, Managing Director, Emerson Network Power-Telecom,
South East Asia/India. But in order to heighten sensitivity
to customers' needs one must prevent power downtime to help
maintain continuity of service. The IT Head should give its
enterprise's power solutions a stronger thought and create
a definite power solutions strategy. by Soutiman Das Gupta
what ways do enterprises neglect power supply specifications?
The importance of power supply in enterprise verticals like
manufacturing industries, ISPs, Telcos, data centers, and
mobile service providers is extremely high. Your reputation
and success depends on consistent power for your network.
In this case reliability becomes the foundation of your system.
Enterprises try to save money on power equipment and end up
with a badly-planned power solution. But if you follow the
classical management advice, that a chain is as strong as
its weakest link, a weak link in the power solution is the
strength of the chain. Subsequently, it is the strength of
the total communications system. Don't let the chain break
Power equipment procurement costs are approximately five percent
of an enterprise's overall IT budget. In my experience, people
try to save money on this small percentage of the total package.
Often they are unsuccessful and face major operational issues
later. There are power outages, backup supply is inadequate,
and there has to be frequent breakdown maintenance. Companies
lose a lot of manpower and man-hours. A professionally designed
and installed power supply solution will definitely minimize
Where do most enterprises go wrong when planning for a
In many enterprises the power equipment specifications are
at the bottom of the purchase/procurement proposals. Sometimes
power specifications for different projects are not even modified
or customized to match the real requirements. In many cases
telecom operators tend to purchase power equipment independent
of the telecom equipment. The specifications should ideally
match and sync with actual power requirements. A quick power
survey on an annual or a semi-annual basis will help understand
the need better.
What are the entities that ensure a consistent and reliable
power supply solution?
In any business, network availability is crucial. And network
availability depends on the quality and functioning of the
hardware and software elements. The functioning of the hardware
and software elements in turn depends on the quality of power/electricity.
This is an important consideration for IT Heads who promise
five nines uptime to their clients. Reliable power supply
plays a significant role in keeping the promise.
At the point/gateway where the power enters your enterprise
from the electric supply, there needs to be an automatic transfer
switch. This is because most companies will have a backup
diesel generator set. The transfer switch swaps between the
two feeds. You can install a manual transfer switch, but it
needs a person to be deployed at the site around the clock.
An automatic transfer switch is useful especially in the case
of remote locations.
Power from the transfer switch flows in to a surge suppresser.
This controls any high power fluctuations which are likely
to damage equipment. It has somewhat the same functions as
that of a domestic PC spike buster, but on a larger scale.
AC power now passes through an UPS which has a battery backup
and automatically switches over to the alternative supply
in case of outages. The power is now distributed to various
departments and sections of an enterprise through a power
distribution cabinet. Some telecom switches and equipment
require DC supply. In this case the company needs to set up
DC power systems and interfaces.
Cables must be robust and the conduits and pipes must be laid
according to safety principles. The embedded AC/DC power supply
is also critical. This is the power supply grid present inside
servers, switches, and other devices. Although built-in, it
still needs observation.
The capability to monitor operations from remote locations
has emerged as an important feature for any solution. So all
these solutions should allow browser-based monitoring. Information
of impending failures like a weak battery bank and alarm conditions
which need manual intervention, can be retrieved from anywhere
in the world. Some management software can also send SMS and
e-mail messages as alerts. The remote monitoring and message
delivery functions should be closely integrated with the customer's
As a part of a complete power solution offering, all the equipment
has to be wrapped around by services. Servicing starts right
from pre-sales and carries on as a life-long commitment made
by the power vendor to its customers.
What areas should an enterprise take into consideration
while entering into a service contract with the power vendor?
Enterprises should enter into service contracts with power
vendors that take care of preventive and breakdown maintenance
of UPSs, DC power equipment, and on-site requisites. The services
should include contract maintenance, breakdown services, startup
and commissioning, and site testing. It should be applicable
on a 24x7x365 basis. It should cover all equipment like UPSs,
rectifiers, chargers, static switches, power conditioners,
and batteries. The service contract should also specify frequencies
for power audits and power quality monitoring.
What power backup strategies should an enterprise adopt?
Redundancy should be built in at each level of power processing
from the entry point till the delivery of power into various
equipments, and backup. Most enterprises have a backup diesel
generator alongside the main power supply. For protection
of equipment there are things like AC power interfaces, surge
protection, and rectifiers. Batteries act as back up for the
rectifiers. In case of power loss the equipment can operate
on batteries. And depending on customers' requirements there
can be battery backup for one hour, one day, or one week.
The capacity of battery backup depends on the customer's needs,
criticality of the system, and importance of the applications
that run on it.
UPS modules can have dual bus systems. This avoids a single
point of failure. A hot standby system ensures another layer
of redundancy. Many servers today have dual power feeds which
act as fail-over.
What warning signals in an enterprise point to the need
for implementing a complete power solution?
Power is such a critical component, that an enterprise should
not wait for any warning signal like frequent short circuits
or fluctuations to implement a power solution. The solution
should have been implemented right before the start of operations.
However its not too late for running enterprises to
start paying greater attention to power solutions.
An organization should work out the cost of downtime as far
as critical hardware is concerned. In functions like online
ATM (Automated Teller Machine) transactions, mobile telecom,
rail reservations, and air reservations, downtime has direct
impact on revenue and goodwill. The cost can be calculated
by multiplying transaction volume per minute with the number
of minutes lost in downtime. This revenue is lost forever.
have to be conscious of a high level of service to its customers.
This heightened sensitivity to its customers can provide it
an edge over competitors.