By Adam Armstrong, March 3, 2016
Schneider Electric Announces Li-ion Battery Options For Its 3-Phase UPS Solutions
Though we only briefly touched on Schneider Electric in a piece involving data center investments, they have been around for a long time, since 1836 (though they didn’t venture into the electricity market until 1891). When it comes to energy Schneider has a finger in just about every pie. They go from a simple as a switch all the way up to smart energy girds. Schneider has over 160,000 employees, has customers in over 100 countries, and had an annual revenue last year over $30 billion. They are continuing to push the envelope in innovation, efficiency, and sustainability.
VRLA are cost-effective and reliable, so they won’t be going away any time soon. However, Li-ion batteries are dropping in costs (they still carry a higher initial investment). The price gap being narrowed combined with the smaller footprint and longer life make they an attractive option to data centers that don’t want to waste space on UPS and want to have a lower TCO, Schneider states organizations can see a TCO savings between 10-40%. Schneider Electric will be showcasing it Li-ion battery solution at its Technology Center in St. Louis.
Lithium-ion battery options are available immediately for select projects supporting Symmetra MW, Galaxy 7000, and Galaxy VM. Broad availability will follow in the second half of 2016. Additional products for other three-phase product lines have been scheduled for 2017.
Yahoo! Tech: Save data and money with this backup power supply for your home office (Deal of the Day)
By Christina Tynan-Wood, March 3, 2016
Save data and money with this backup power supply for your home office (Deal of the Day)
If you have a home office, and rely on it for your livelihood, preparing for power outages means more than just having a flashlight handy. Unless you plug your essential work tools into a UPS (uninterruptable power supply), a storm or power failure could cost you hours of work — which means money. In other words, a UPS is an essential business investment.
APC’s BGE50ML Back-UPS Network Backup and Mobile Power Pack is one such power supply that’ll also help you keep your mobile devices charged. Grab the removable battery pack, use it to charge your phone, tablet, or whatever, then put it back into the UPS to recharge when the power comes back on. Even if having all your critical gear connected to a UPS means that the power never goes out again, having one that doubles as an extra mobile battery is extra prudent.
Of course, being the Yahoo Tech deal maven, I got you a deal on this UPS: 10 percent off and free shipping. Just use the code p409u when you check out at APC.com.
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Datacenter Dynamics: OCP Summit: Schneider Electric racks up its Open Compute credentials
By Eric Doyle, March 10, 2016
Flat-pack racks and power supply designs feature at the OCP Summit
Schneider Electric has been saving a few announcements for the Open Compute US 2016 Summit. Apart from showcasing an Open Compute Project (OCP) compliant rack, the company has produced concept designs for a high density, high efficiency power supply unit (PSU) and battery backup unit (BBU).
The rack complies with Open Rack V2 specifications which are based on Facebook’s designs. The racks can be supplied pre-assembled but they are also available as self-assemble flat-packs. As a pack, the racks take up around a third of the space of an assembled unit which makes them more economical to transport and reduces storage space requirements.
The cost of being open
Schneider OCP cost tool
Source: Schneider Electric
The company has also been sharing reference designs for future OCP racks, power supply and battery backup units. These hardware specifications were accompanied by plans for a complete power and cooling infrastructure stretching from the utility to the server.
Schneider has also added to its library of whitepapers with an analysis of OCP-compliant datacenter architectures from a power supply perspective. The company said the focus has been concentrated on rack-level implications and felt it was time to look at the upstream power infrastructure – including the use of lithium ion batteries.
The paper addresses critical questions about power redundancy, availability and flexibility. As part of this, simplified OCP reference designs are given and there is a CapEx analysis of traditional architectures compared with OCP-based designs. This is backed up with an online TradeOff Toolto allow decision makers to use their own data to give themselves a better understanding of the cost differences and drivers of various architectures.
Kevin Brown, Schneider Electric’s vice president for global data center strategy and technology, said, “Schneider Electric’s new solutions, along with our reference design, underscore our commitment to supporting Open Compute-style architectures and making Open Compute more achievable for customers. By arming datacenter managers with an end-to-end Open Compute datacenter architecture, including the physical and IT infrastructure, we can help them better visualize their final design.”
Data Center Knowledge: Modular Data Center Startup Keystone NAP Raises $15M
By Yevgeniy Sverdlik, March 8, 2016
It has not been easy to secure financing for a data center services startup in recent years, and few have managed to pull it off. While institutional investors are more familiar with the data center provider market than they were in the past, and there is a lot of interest in investing in providers, the preference usually goes to established companies who already have tenants with good credit ratings and positive cash flow.
Keystone NAP, operator of the modular data center on the site of a former steel mill in Pennsylvania, is one of the few new data center providers that have managed to raise capital. The company is expected to become profitable this year, its president John Parker said.
The data center provider announced its latest funding round this week: a $15 million debt facility with White Oak Global Advisors, which brings its total to $27.5 million, consisting of a combination of debt and private equity.
“The capital market is favorable,” Parker said. “We’re a startup, so that presents additional challenges, but I think the market is favorable.”
The data center industry has a lot of attributes lenders like, and Keystone has shown its ability to land enterprise-grade customers for multi-year leases. Customers like major financial institutions and healthcare organizations are “the types of buyers in this market that I think carry a lot of weight with lenders,” he said. “That’s really the key element.”
Because of confidentiality agreements, Keystone cannot name its marquee financial services client, saying only that it’s a major firm based in New Jersey. Its poster healthcare customer is Aria Health, which recently merged with Thomas Jefferson University. It is northeast Philadelphia’s largest healthcare provider, which operates three hospitals and a network of outpatient centers and primary healthcare physicians.
Modular Data Center with Virtually Limitless Power
Keystone’s facility is a repurposed building in a 3,500-acre business park in Fairless Hills, called Keystone Industrial Port Complex, where the company is using the modular data center approach to expand capacity gradually. Schneider Electric manufactures the modules, which it designed together with the data center provider.
Each module can hold up to 22 IT racks, and modules can be stacked on top of each other. Keystone’s data center design provides for six-module blocks, each of them consisting of two adjacent three-module stacks.
Keystone NAP uses a 50-ton crane in the building to move the modules and customer equipment. Upper-level modules are accessible by stairs. (Photo: Keystone NAP)
The first module arrived to the site in late 2015. Six are up and running today. The time to get a module manufactured, shipped, and commissioned varies, but it’s safe to expect a 90-day delivery, from commitment to live date, Parker said.
Keystone’s site has capacity to house and support 30 times its current load, or up to 180 modules total, which would include the current building and an expansion. Because it’s on a site of a former steel mill, it has access to a virtually limitless amount of power as far as data centers are concerned. “We really don’t have a capacity limit,” Parker said. “It’s just a matter of continuing to add transformers.”
Flexible Infrastructure, Managed Services
The company offers flexibility in power density and level of infrastructure redundancy – both capabilities all data center providers will have to have in the future. Fewer and fewer customers are content with colocation deals that lock them into a single power density, while more and more customers are looking at their application uptime needs more intelligently, looking for lower-cost lower-redundancy data center infrastructure to run non-critical apps on.
Another trend Keystone is taking advantage of is the growing amount of enterprise customers looking for full-service data center providers, who will help them set up things like network connectivity, disaster recovery, security, and cloud. Keystone acts as a managed service provider in addition to providing data center capacity to cater to those needs.
Aria Health, for example, is using the provider’s colocation services, managed virtual disaster recovery, cloud services provided by one of Keystone’s partners, and IP network and bandwidth services to its three main hospitals.
No Relation to Steel Orca
The Keystone NAP data center is in the same business park where another data center provider, called Steel Orca, attempted and failed to establish a data center. Steel Orca was going to build a greenfield data center there, but the project never got off the ground, and the company filed for bankruptcy last year.
Parker, who provided some outside counseling services to Steel Orca, said there was no connection between the two companies and their respective data center projects.
Network World: Modular data center startup gets funding
By Patrick Nelson, March 17, 2016
Packing data centers in shipping containers is gaining traction.
Pre-fabricated, shipping container-like stackable modules, containing data center gear are the future, according to Keystone NAP, a startup vendor, who’s recently obtained new funding.
Modular data centers are one of the three top trends in data center land, according to Keystone NAP co-founder Shawn R. Carey, writing last year on the Advance Healthcare Network website . The other two fads being outsourcing, and hybrid cloud.
Research last year projected a 31.2% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2015 and 2020 for the modular data center genre, with developing markets like China and India leading the thrust.
Modular data centers are better than regular ones, thinks Keystone NAP. The KeyBlocks, as the company calls the large individual containers, offer more flexibility, particularly in a shared space, it says on its website.
“With different modules for different clients, companies can customize power, cooling, and network connectivity configurations,” the site says. In other words, each modular unit can be unique in temperature, security, bandwidth and so on. If a client wants a certain environment, or new switches, say, it can get the work completed on the units that pertain to it—the whole building doesn’t have to upgrade resources.
Modular data centers aren’t new. Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook have all deployed solutions, Keystone NAP says.
What’s interesting about the startup’s model, though, is that its business has an emphasis on multi-tenant environments. Theoretically, each container within the space can be dedicated to a different client. Previously, modular data centers have been usually implemented as a stopgap, rapid deployment, or flexible expansion solution by one operator, such as a Facebook, say.
Hospital-owner Aria, Comcast, a managed cloud host, IBM, and a financial service company all have varying kinds of facilities located in Keystone NAP’s Philadelphia site, the newspaper says.
Modular has advantages. Healthcare, for example, likes modular solutions for security reasons, Carey said in his article. It offers “greater security over traditional data center cages,” he believes.
Conceivably, Keystone NAP, and others’ modular business could bridge a gap between enterprises who don’t want to run their own data center, yet don’t want to be co-located in someone else’s, and aren’t enamored with the cloud—or any combination.
The client gets its own fully controllable module, and realizes other gains, too. They include better cooling efficiencies, explains data center real estate firm Wired Real Estate Group on its website. Heat can be easier to remove from individual units, compared to floors in a building. Plus, the stackable nature also provides better equipment densities than those traditional setups, or modular cabinets, the fanboys say.
The Schneider Electric-built blocks that Keystone NAP have implemented can be piled three-high, explains Data Center Knowledge, who wrote about the initial KeyBlock deliveries, which were shipped on the back of a flat-bed, in January last year.
“The first KeyBlock arrived before the building fit-out was finished to demonstrate the capabilities to the customer,” Data Center Knowledge says. That’s “something that wouldn’t have been possible to do with a traditional approach,” it reckons.
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Federal Computer Week: 3 keys to data center consolidation
By Steve Carlini, March 17, 2016
The Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative was created in 2010 to slow and ultimately reverse the incredible growth in the number of data centers. FDCCI aimed to do that by issuing guidelines for reducing the cost of hardware and software, streamlining operations and increasing efficiency.
Although the deadline for meeting FDCCI’s goals was last November, consolidation remains incredibly important. Unfortunately, it is often easier said than done.
The job of IT professionals in the U.S. government is atypical, and the technology they must deal with is unique. Charged with advancing and securing some of the most important missions in the world, they must still reduce costs — it is extremely expensive to operate and maintain federal data centers — and support new connected technologies while at the same time meet mandates and comply with regulations.
So how can agencies simplify and optimize mission-critical data centers in the face of consolidation? There are a number of ways.
1. Plan for and measure savings, enhanced reliability and funding. Through the implementation of an assessment strategy, managers can identify which data centers can be consolidated for maximum efficiency gains. Once those centers are identified, officials should consider infrastructure improvements such as integrated, high-density, high-efficiency IT room systems. That technological upgrade benefits all parts of the operation by increasing availability and agility while keeping costs low.
Data center managers should also consider using energy savings performance contracts, which provide federal agencies with an alternative (usually private) financing option for energy-saving projects that require no upfront capital costs. ESPCs are funded at the outset by a third party and then paid for through the resulting savings, which are guaranteed by the participating partner.
2. Adapt to changing cooling needs. Not surprisingly, consolidation has a profound impact on facility cooling. High-density containment pods — thermal containment systems that are the most energy-efficient way to ramp up power density — can address the small-space and high-heat constraints of a consolidated data center. Because the pod is self-contained, it requires little planning, design or engineering. And that type of solution can allow a legacy data center to increase its density and efficiency during the consolidation project.
3. Accommodate difficult locations. A potentially overlooked complication for federal data centers is their location. Facilities for the U.S. military and the intelligence community must often be deployed in remote locations with challenging environmental conditions, including war zones.
Prefabricated data centers can go anywhere the agency goes. Modules built to International Organization for Standardization specifications are pre-engineered, pre-assembled, integrated and pretested in a factory environment and available in both high-cube and standard-height formats. For military use, they can withstand the most demanding conditions and environments and fit inside aircraft cargo bays for transportation and quick deployment anywhere in the world.
The designs can also include anti-vibration pads, anti-ballistic armoring, Defense Department- and NATO-approved locks, and TEMPEST protection.
Overall, prefabricated power and cooling modules can be 60 percent faster to deploy compared to traditional facilities — a time savings that can benefit the federal community in multiple ways.
The road to full consolidation can be long and arduous for federal data center managers. Time constraints and increasingly tight budgets have made it difficult for IT professionals to meet ever-stringent efficiency demands, but by considering the three factors discussed above, they can be well on their way to success.
About the Author
Steve Cronin is senior director of government and public-sector IT business at Schneider Electric.
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Battery Power: Schneider Electric Announces Lithium-Ion Battery Options for Its 3-Phase UPS Solutions
March 11, 2016
Schneider Electric will support the use of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries as an alternative to Valve Regulated Sealed Lead-Acid (VRLA) batteries for many of its three-phase uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs).
Li-ion batteries pack a lot of energy into a much smaller footprint. As a result, they take up only about one-third the space (or less) of a comparable VRLA-based solution that delivers the same power. This helps customers increase the footprint available for IT equipment while also reducing cooling requirements, which saves both capital costs and ongoing operating costs.
“While VRLAs remain the dominant UPS energy storage technology due to their low cost and high reliability, lithium-ion is becoming a more attractive option for a growing set of customers,” said Pedro Robredo, Vice President of Secure Power Systems, Schneider Electric. “While the initial cost remains higher than comparable VRLA, the price gap has reduced significantly in the last few years. Based on the application, Li-ion solutions can offer a projected Total Cost of Ownership savings from 10 percent to 40 percent over their design life.”
Lithium-ion battery options are available immediately for select projects supporting Symmetra MW, Galaxy 7000 and Galaxy VM with broad availability in the second half of 2016. Additional three-phase product line support will be rolled out through 2017.
In support of this launch, Schneider Electric plans to showcase its Li-ion battery solution at its Technology Center in St. Louis.
Daily Deals: APC backup power supply, Sony headphones and more
By Cody Lee, Mar 29, 2016
Hello! Welcome to iDB’s new exploratory ‘Daily Deals’ post. Here you will find a roundup of some of our favorite deals of the day on tech and tech-related products such as smartphones, tablets, accessories, connected devices, and even video games and consoles.
This is an experiment of sorts, born out of our love for tech and discounts. So we’re going to do a little trial run, and see how it goes. If it turns out to be something readers are interested in, we’ll add more products from more websites, and make this a daily thing.
APC Back-UPS Pro 700VA 6-outlet Power Supply (UPS)
Offering high-performance, premium power protection for office computers, the APC by Schneider Electric Back-UPS Pro BR700G provides instant battery power to your critical electronics when the power goes out, reducing risk of damage and keeping you connectedand available both personally and professionally.
You can buy the APC Back-UPS Pro on Amazon for $82.99 (normal price $139.99).
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Health Facilities Management: UTHSC builds new data center on parking garage roof
By Jeff Ferenc, March 21, 2016
Data center location made possible by supporting infrastructure system and design
A new data center was built on a parking garage roof because of a space shortage on the UTHSC campus. .
The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC), Houston, solved a time and space crunch for its new 7,000-square-foot data center by building it on the roof of a parking garage on the campus.
The location was made possible in large part because of the design of the new data center and technology that enabled it to utilize the somewhat unorthodox location.
UTHSC was facing an immediate — and dire — need when owners of the building where the data center previously was located announced their intent to tear down the existing facility to construct two new towers in its place.
Challenged with an extreme lack of space throughout the campus, the UTHSC data center operations team determined that their best option was the roof of a nearby parking garage.
To make sure the roof could support the load created by the data center and its housing, the structural engineer reinforced the roof joist. For additional reinforcement, the engineering team added additional joists in the roofing itself at the point of the install.
The structure that housed the data center was constructed with reinforced cinder blocks so that it could withstand 150-mph winds in the event of a hurricane or other severe weather event and also hot summer days that reach an average high of 94 degrees F.
InfraStruXure, the system from APC by Schneider Electric, Andover, Mass., chosen for the project, was a critical component of the data center design.
The system provides monitoring of cooling, power and humidity and enables easier preventive maintenance, according to the UTHSC information technology (IT) operations team that worked on the project. It also features a rack-based, integrated, uninterrupted power supply.
The system was considered such an integral part of the project that it needed to be planned, configured and approved before the building and data center design could be completed to ensure that it met the university’s expectations.
“The central IT operations group felt that the InfraStruXure solution would help to address the power management and cooling-related issues. The InfraStruXure configuration was also critical to the overall design of the building,” says Kevin Granhold, executive director and chief technology officer, data center operations and services, at UTHSC, in a report on the project.
Because the system features a modular, scalable, uninterrupted power supply and cooling architecture, the IT operations team was not confronted with the issue of having to purchase excess data capacity up front to meet long-term needs.
The design flexibility allowed extra floor space to be built into the data center so that additional data racks and related cooling and power capacity could be added later when needed.