A power strategy for uninterrupted business
VSNL uses a power conditioning strategy in order to do uninterrupted
business across its five nationwide data centers. Here's a look at how the company
went about it. by Soutiman Das Gupta
||The fundamental requirement
when a customer outsources to a data center is that the infrastructure should
have all the ingredients for running
on a 24x7 basis.
|Sanjay Srivastava, Head Products, Tata
Indicom Enterprise Business Unit
"The need for power conditioning at a data center is
as basic as the need for breathing to a living being. If you have to ensure
that the data center is up and running all the time, you have to ensure that
all the associated infrastructure like routers, servers, switches, and air conditioning
is drawing power," said Sanjay Srivastava, Head Products, Tata Indicom
Enterprise Business Unit.
Owing to the critical nature of the Internet Data Center (IDC) business, VSNL
had to guarantee very high levels of uptime to all its nationwide customers.
And in order to live up to the SLA promises of uptime at its five data centers,
it was necessary that the infrastructure was conducive to offer uninterrupted
The company thus decided to adopt a power conditioning strategy and deploy a
power conditioning solution that would help keep its business ticking at all
Services at VSNL
Since the inception of VSNL's IDC business, there has been a quick growth in
the number of Indian companies that chose to outsource their IT needs. This
was because it makes good business sense for many organizations to outsource
their IT needs to a service provider. And a well-crafted outsourcing strategy
can help an organization save costs related to manpower and equipment, and protect
the organization from technology obsolescence.
VSNL set up its first data center in Mumbai in 1997. And in the light of the
growing need for new enterprise customers, it subsequently built four other
data centers at Bangalore, Vashi (Navi Mumbai), Chennai, and Delhi.
Across these IDCs, the company offers a comprehensive suite of Web hosting services.
These include shared Web hosting, dedicated Web hosting, co-location hosting
services and a series of managed services.
The critical customer
VSNL's customers have very critical needs for infrastructure. Many of them are
large organizations like AT&T, NCR, Reuters, LIC, SBI, Yahoo India, and
These companies host critical applications, which need to be up and running
24x7 without any downtime.
These companies require hardware/software configurations, multi-server clustering,
and access to specific data centers/uplinks and have thus partnered with VSNL.
Currently, 10 percent of VSNL's customers opt for shared hosting, 20 percent
for dedicated hosting and the majority70 percent use co-location hosting
"The co-location customers usually focus on and demand superior physical
infrastructure like power availability, climate conditioning, connectivity,
and security," said Srivastava.
Network uptime is important
"The fundamental requirement when a customer outsources to a data center
is that the infrastructure should have all the ingredients for running on a
24x7 basis. Customers need the highest possible uptime without getting into
the hassle of managing that infrastructure on their own," explained Srivastava.
A customer's website is the gateway to his business on the internet and offers
worldwide potential. This translates to the need for reliable power, temperature
and Internet connectivity.
VSNL offers 99.5 percent uptime to customers, which is also a standard component
of the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that the company proposes to its customers.
And for certain customers, the SLA commits an uptime of 99.9 percent. A key
observation to be made here is the penalty clause which comes into play if the
requisite network uptime is not fulfilled by VSNL.
This could imply enormous revenue losses to the vendor, and thus the criticality
of network uptime Solutions for VSNL.
Power conditioning strategy
||The most compelling feature of the power
conditioning solution was that we had to build an infrastructure better
than what the customer would get at its own location
|Hari Nair, Technical Director, VSNL International
VSNL decided that the best way to design the power conditioning
strategy was to align it with the business strategy.
"We started with a look at the customer needs. We looked at where the customer
was on that day, how it would grow, and what would be its expectations in future.
Once we defined that, we reached at an estimate of the target market requirements.
And the power strategy then fell into place," explained Srivastava.
"We typically defined the size of the market and the profile of the customers.
We then set about to define our requirements to support the processes keeping
in account SLA promises, and international benchmarking standards like SunTone
certifications, which would give confidence to our customers. This creates a
good ground for creating a power conditioning strategy," he added.
"The most compelling feature of the power conditioning solution was that
we had to build an infrastructure better than what the customer would get at
its own location. We looked for negligible downtime, basic maintenance capabilities,
and a detailed floor plan of the distribution," said Hari Nair, Technical
Director, VSNL International.
"We also looked in detail at the power needs at every socket, cable including
trunk cables, UPS, transformers, and other equipment. We ensured that all equipment
was covered and built enough redundancy at every stage for failover," he
After evaluating a number of vendors, VSNL chose Emerson Network Power (India)
Pvt. Ltd (ENPIPL). VSNL created a basic architectural design and ENPIL carried
out a site study, and implemented the final solution in conjunction with VSNL.
Hardware and the benefits
ENPIPL provided its solution at three of VSNL's data centers. It deployed four
200 kVA UPSs at Mumbai, two 120 kVA UPSs at Chennai, and two 40 kVA UPSs at
The solution provides clean and uninterrupted power free
of spikes and harmonics with mirror images of the complete power system. This
allow online maintenance, since even planned shutdowns for maintenance purposes
cannot be considered as uptime.
A configuration feature called Load Bus Synchronization (LBS) allows the redundancy
in the form of a mirror image of the complete power system on the lines of internationally
accepted practices (Sun Tone Certification). This ensured a consistent flow
and kept the facility up 24x7. The solution offered VSNL 99.5 percent uptime
across the board.
VSNL has also signed an SLA with ENPIPL that has penalty clauses as precautions.
VSNL uses a documented power conditioning strategy, which is part of the enterprise
infrastructure strategy, in order to provide a standardized level of quality
across its locations.
"The entire infrastructure strategy is constantly evaluated as a part of
an improvement process. Annual reviews are made to track changes. These changes
can be driven from the customer, supplier, or the competitor's side," Srivastava
In this way the organization takes views from three dimensions of the external
world to see if the change will really benefit the customer. And based on this
VSNL may change its infrastructure strategy, pricing strategy, or maybe the
VSNL plans to keep expanding its enterprise infrastructure which includes power
over the next few months.
"The biggest driver from our perspective is our customers,
because at the end of the day they define what they need, which we have to service.
Now that business is opening up, a lot of MNCs have come to India, and the existing
MNCs want more access and integration with their global infrastructure. Their
expectations from us will be high, and we have to match those expectations,"
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
VSNL runs five data centers in India and provides hosting and co-location
services to various nationwide customers.
In order to provide very high levels of uptime and live up to promises
made in the SLAs, the company needed a good power conditioning strategy
as a basic need for good infrastructure.
The company deployed a range of power conditioning solutions and deployed
a power conditioning strategy for better business.
The solution provides clean and uninterrupted power free of spikes and
harmonics with mirror images of the complete power system.