Green IT & Sustainability The benefits of going green â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the right way.
Navigating the data centre staffing crisis.
AI needs YOU!
News 04 • Editor’s Comment Thriving, not surviving.
06 • News The latest stories from the sector.
10 • DCR World Global goings on.
Features 16 • Data Centre Design Power solutions provider E+I Engineering gives us five key considerations for busbar route planning in the data centre.
22 • Green IT & Sustainability David Watkins of Virtus Data Centres highlights the benefits of going green – the right way.
24 • AI & Machine Learning Sophie Hand of EU Automation explains how artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things can work in harmony to provide us with the ‘brains’ we need to help transform manufacturing.
26 • UPS/Standby Power Modular UPS reimagined. Socomec democratises big data centre technology to redefine modular UPS.
30 • DCIM Lance Devin of EdgeConneX explores automating the data centre in order to cater for our increasingly digitised world.
Regulars 32 • Industry Insight
Ryan Hogg of Opengear explores how we go about navigating the data centre staffing crisis.
36 • Products Innovations worth watching.
38 • Final Say Neil Ballinger of EU Automation examines the UK’s top three emerging tech jobs and what these trends mean for manufacturers.
Claire Fletcher firstname.lastname@example.org
Jordan O’Brien So, my last one of these was of course back in June. Events were being cancelled left, right and centre, the world was in general disarray but at least the sun was still shining – sort of. Fast forward five months and not a great deal has changed, bar the fact it’s now freezing and there still looks to be no end in sight for this Covid situation. Which, although utterly sh*t for most of us, is at least good news for data centres. Without doubt, many businesses the world over have had to adapt and overcome in order to survive. These forced changes haven’t been without their challenges and the data centre industry is no different. Despite an unprecedented (word of 2020) demand for data centre services of late, whether that be for the sudden influx of remote working, streaming services, social media activity or general communication, the two operative words here are ‘unprecedented’ and ‘sudden’. By their dictionary definitions, unprecedented, ‘never’ known or done before’, and sudden, ‘occurring unexpectedly or quickly without warning’, are essentially what we are all up against. No one could have possibly prepared for this – apart from The Simpsons – who rather suspiciously seem to have predicted every global going on for as long as I can remember. Has anyone questioned Matt Groening about this? Regardless of The Simpsons’ possible prior knowledge of this pandemic, on paper, all this demand is of course great news for data centres, right? Well, it is when you have enough staff to cope. The skills gap present within the IT industry has been no secret even pre-Covid. So, what now? In this issue’s Industry Insight, Opengear opens up about the data centre staffing crisis and what can be done to help mitigate this (rather hefty) hurdle to success. But, despite staffing issues and the unprecedented suddenness of it all, which has now become more like monotonous tedium, data centres have not only survived, but have absolutely thrived. In this particular issue we also have not one, but two, Company Spotlight’s, showcasing the sheer resilience of our industry, diving into the challenges (and solutions) faced to hopefully bring a little bit of positivity back into our lives. In other news, earlier this year we revamped our Electrical Review website which has been just lovely. But now, as this hideous year draws to a close, we feel it’s time for DCR to get the same treatment, so watch this space, and come 2021, we should have a shiny new site to unveil. Not only that, but our printed issues of DCR will be increasing from three times annually to four, yet another testament to how hardy (and essential) our industry really is. And I can’t believe I’m saying this already, but I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and New Year (God only knows we need one). Who knows if we will even get to see our families over the festive period, perhaps we will all be having socially distanced Christmas BBQs at this rate? We’ll all just have to await 2020’s last hurrah with bated breath – or alternatively, wear a mask and breathe wherever you like. Claire Fletcher, Editor
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HACKERS USE RANDOM MAN TO IMPERSONATE M&S CEO STEVE ROWE IN FREE GIFT VOUCHER SCAM
The latest highlights from all corners of the tech industry.
Could the real Steve Rowe please stand up? Cyber criminals have launched a new online scam designed to trick Marks & Spencer (M&S) customers into handing over confidential data by impersonating the retailer’s CEO Steve Rowe. But rather than just impersonating him in writing, they went a step further, backing up their scam with an image of someone that definitely was not Steve Rowe.
New research reveals impact of ransomware attacks on mental health of IT teams
Hyve offers lifeline to help struggling businesses stay afloat
hey say kindness costs nothing, but Brighton-based tech firm Hyve voluntarily took a hit to its own monthly income in an effort to help clients struggling after lockdown. Hyve helped out by slicing some customers’ bills by up to 50% in a bid to help them maintain services during the crisis, as well as increasing its own workforce by 25%. As an independent company, Hyve was able to be flexible and react to clients’ change in circumstances – something larger vendors were unable – or unwilling – to do. Without this assistance, many businesses would have been unable to keep going and were likely to slip into bankruptcy.
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Are micro data centres set to be the next big thing? According to Global Market Insights, with digitisation having led to the generation of huge volumes of data, increasing adoption of digital technologies could positively impact the growth of micro data centre businesses to the tune of $15 billion by 2026, according to Global Market Insights.
According to new research from Sophos, organisations are never the same after being hit by ransomware. The confidence of IT managers and their approach to tackling cyberattacks is vastly different depending on whether they have or have not been impacted previously. For instance, IT managers at organisations hit by ransomware are nearly three times as likely to feel ‘significantly behind’ when it comes to understanding cyberthreats, compared to their peers in organisations that were unaffected (17% versus 6%). This compares to 8% for the UK.
UK’S FIRST CYBER INCIDENT HELPLINE TO HELP SCOTTISH ORGANISATIONS BOUNCE BACK FROM ATTACKS In the face of rising incidences of cyberattacks on businesses and charities, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), in partnership with the Scottish Government and Police Scotland, has launched the UK’s first cyber incident response helpline for the SME community. It will help victims of cybercrime understand what support is immediately available to them and help them recover. The free helpline will assist organisations in confirming whether they have been the victim of an attack and, if so, provide expert guidance to get them back to secure operations. Organisations who are concerned about their security in general can also get in touch to confirm they have the right processes in place. Mark Cunningham-Dickie, SBRC’s newly-appointed cyber incident and response manager, will manage the helpline and serve as callers’ first point of contact, filtering calls to other security experts as required.
Engineer shortage causes organisations to opt for automation
hanks to a shortage of engineers, more than half of companies have adopted automation approaches across their networks, according to a recent study from Opengear. The study revealed that the travel time it takes to get engineers on site (42%) and a lack of in-house skillset (42%) are the two biggest challenges organisations face in resolving a network outage quickly. In addition, more than a quarter of respondents (26%) said their organisation’s biggest priority when a network outage strikes is to get engineers out on-site as fast as possible. However, reduced on-site workforces and
a greater reliance on working from home has proven difficult to overcome. While many companies already employ an out-of-band (OOB) management network to ensure remote access to their IT infrastructure, the current challenges of getting engineers to site is driving a change in how that OOB network is utilised. Opengear’s study, ‘Measuring the true cost of network outages’, discovered that in responding to this challenge, more than half of companies (57%) have turned to a network automation approach across their network, with over a fifth of organisations (22%) currently describing their network resilience at the edge as adequate or poor.
The edge opportunity is real, so what’s the hold up? Over 44% of IT leaders in the UK are already actively utilising edge technology, but organisations cite hurdles to unlocking its full potential. While IT decision makers (ITDMs) show a growing interest in processing and analysing data at the edge, they are also concerned about various barriers to adoption. 34% of ITDMs pointed to a lack of expertise, skill or understanding with regard to edge technologies as top concerns. Notably, the overwhelming majority (87%) think they are missing at least some skills needed to help their organisation unlock the value of data. That rises to 98% and 99% of ITDMs in the government and hotels/hospitality sectors, respectively. AI and Machine Learning skills (39%), analytical skills (33%) and technical skills (40%) ranked highest in terms of areas of expertise that companies are lacking. Overall, there were mixed feelings about the security implications of the edge. While 59% of ITDMs said that connecting IoT or user devices at the edge had made or would make their businesses more vulnerable, 25% identified improved security as one of the biggest benefits of capturing data from user devices. 8 www.datacentrereview.com November 2020
World Who’s doing what and where they’re doing it – Global news from the data centre world.
Scality has announced an initiative with Reforest’Action to plant 14,000 trees to help address climate change in California and Europe by the end of 2021. The effort has become a more urgent priority after the recent complex lightning fires in California burned over 1.4 million acres surrounding US Scality’s home base in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The first (of many) 5G innovations have been proposed by Orange Belgium at the Port of Antwerp. From augmented field operators to connected tugboats, Orange Belgium and its industrial partners have unveiled some unique applications co-created in the Port of Antwerp, using Orange Belgium’s 5G network.
“There is nothing like the smell of smoke in your own backyard and realising that this represents the destruction of some of California’s most vibrant communities and beautiful 2,000-year old-growth redwood forests,” said Jerome Lecat, CEO of Scality.
The 5G network rolled out by Orange Belgium is the first large scale standalone network of the country, meaning it offers, alongside high speed and low latency, the unique network slicing capability that makes the network ultra-reliable for businesses.
To help the most impacted forests in California, Scality is committing to planting 10,000 trees in California by the spring of 2021. The other 4,000 trees will be planted at the start of 2021 near Paris.
Could Google finally be gearing up to launch its first data centre in the UK? Rumour has it the Silicon Valley giant has recently purchased a plot of land north of London, which some might say could make the perfect site for say, a data centre perhaps?
Through the acquisition of two of the region’s most modern and energyefficient data centre facilities, ‘green’ data centre owner and operator, EcoDataCenter, has now firmly cemented its presence in Stockholm.
Google’s data centres already house a plethora of servers and drives, as well as providing the infrastructure that make the company’s myriad of services around the world possible. City A.M. reported that the plot, apparently located in Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, would ‘comfortably accommodate a data plant.’ Nothing other than a data centre would require such a sizable site. Watch this space.
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EcoDataCenter, which is known for its climate-positive data centres in Falun, central Sweden, has now established a strong position in the Swedish capital Stockholm by acquiring two of the region’s most sustainable and modern data centre facilities. “The two facilities in Stockholm give us completely new opportunities when it comes to assisting companies to convert to a greener digitisation,” said Magnus Angermund, chief marketing officer at EcoDataCenter.
CyrusOne has announced a partnership to research residual heat capture at its Amsterdam I facility to heat 15,000 homes in Haarlem.
Equinix has announced the development of a new data centre in Milan, due to open in Q1 2021. Known as ML5, the International Business Exchange (IBX) data centre will offer state-of-the-art colocation, as well as a host of advanced interconnection services, including Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric (ECX Fabric) and Equinix Internet Exchange.
The Municipality of Haarlem, SADC’s PolanenPark and CyrusOne, a premier global data centre REIT, have signed a unique Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly examine the economic and technical feasibility of a heat re-use project in the region. The MoU is expected to result in the successful capture of residual heat from CyrusOne’s Amsterdam I data centre’s water-cooling process, which will feed into a new district heating network to heat 15,000 homes in the municipality. If the plan proves feasible, a new agreement to start development will be signed in the first quarter of 2021.
The modular construction of the site incorporates Equinix’s Flexible Data Centre (FDC) principles, which leverage common design elements for space, power and cooling to ensure long-term maintenance predictability. This approach provides customers with high standards for uptime and availability, while lowering operating risk and complexity. The ML5 IBX is the fourth data centre for Equinix in Italy.
Bureau of Meteorology
As the new fully-functioning LINX point of presence (PoP) goes live at the NGD data centre near Newport, the facility has now been named, ‘Home of LINX Wales’.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has decommissioned a data centre after nearly 46 years’ of service, ending the life of its oldest facility.
This follows the previous announcement at the London Internet Exchange (LINX) member conference in London that Next Generation Data (NGD) – now part of Vantage Data Centers – was to become the home of LINX Wales. Launched in 2015, LINX Wales was present only at the Stadium House data centre facility in Cardiff with the expansion to NGD due to go live in March of this year. However, the project was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the regulations put in place. LINX Wales is part of LINX’s other regional interconnection services in London, Manchester, Scotland and the USA.
The Central Computing Facility was first commissioned in the Bureau’s former Melbourne Office in Lonsdale Street in 1974 and relocated to the Bureau’s current Melbourne Office in Docklands in 2004. But the data centre equipment had a good life, having been consolidated from three sites to two by retiring, migrating and transforming 189 IT assets dispersed across 46 systems over the last two years. But now, it’s time to retire, with a replacement supercomputer expected to go live next year.
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Provisioning the digital transformation of Newcastle City Council services Newcastle City Council turns to Schneider Electric and its partner Advanced Power Technology for data centre resilience and system visibility.
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ewcastle City Council has recently transformed its data centre operations, consolidating its main IT systems into a single data hall, with upgraded power and cooling infrastructure and new management software by Schneider Electric. In the process, it has improved resilience and uptime, simplified the management of all of its infrastructure equipment, and made part of its data centre available to other organisations, which helps to offset the costs of its operations. Setting the scene at Newcastle City Council Newcastle City Council employs over 5,000 people providing local-government services to citizens throughout the city. Its data centre hosts numerous applications, including those supporting council tax collection, social services, library services, education and road traffic management. It also has links with the IT systems of other essential public service bodies, such as the NHS and police. Given the vital nature of these services, the council’s IT systems must run reliably around the clock and any downtime will have a significant effect on the local populace. The challenge: tangled legacy issues The council’s IT systems had grown steadily over the years to support the evolution of its e-Government approach with the automation and digitisation of many of its activities. But the situation had evolved to the point where the data centre layout had become haphazard and disorganised, many infrastructure elements were nearing their end of life and in need of regular maintenance, and management of the infrastructure was labour intensive and time consuming. “We had three different server rooms with links between them,” said James Dickman, senior ICT solutions analyst at Newcastle City Council. “Telecoms routers were in one room and servers in another, so it was difficult to manage them. We also had separate UPS systems in each room, and air handlers for cooling, many of which were old and in need of replacement. “Also, we had the inevitable ‘spaghetti effect’ of legacy systems with numerous cables installed under the floor over many years, now causing choke points and were becoming very difficult to manage and maintain.”
As a public body we are always looking for cost and energy efficiencies. Schneider Electric and APT were able to design and deliver an overall data centre solution that meets our needs and our expectations. The new facility enables us to meet our service commitments to all stakeholders while minimising the carbon impact of delivering IT services The solution: standardisation and consolidation As part of a refurbishment of its Civic Centre, Newcastle City Council consolidated its data centre into a single room with a raised modular floor. Following a competitive tender, the council chose EcoStruxure for Data Centres, Schneider Electric’s IoT-enabled, open and interoperable system architecture for the new facility. The data centre was designed and built by Schneider elite partner, Advanced Power Technology (APT). The new integrated data centre infrastructure solution incorporates a variety of equipment from Schneider Electric, including APC Netshelter racks, Galaxy range UPS’ and PDUs, and monitoring and management software. 40 NetShelter IT racks are installed in three aisles with cold aisle containment to optimise cooling efficiency. For uninterruptible power, Newcastle City Council has standardised on the Galaxy range UPS’, specifically the Symmetra PX 250 modular system. In N+1 redundant configuration, the new UPS solution enables Newcastle City Council to scale power protection and runtime as its business requirements evolve and change. Standardisation on the UPS has greatly improved the data centre’s ability to withstand power outages. “Previously, we were able to withstand a loss of power for about 20 minutes,” added Dickman. “Now we can operate for three hours on batteries, if needs be. We also have a backup generator, which we didn’t have before, to provide alternative power in the event of a lengthy loss of our mains supply.” Dickman continued, “Our resilience and uptime have been greatly improved. On one occasion recently, there was a power outage which affected many buildings close to the Civic Centre where the data centre is housed. But the UPS systems took over, the backup
generator came online when it was needed and 20 minutes later, the system rectified itself once power was restored. Nobody knew there had even been an issue until I checked the system logs the following morning.” A further benefit of the EcoStruxure for Data Centres solution is a more effective approach to data cable management. More structured cabling provides greater certainty about connectivity within the data centre, reducing complexity and the potential for human error, improving maintenance and serviceability with easier and safer access. The cable management solution also increases cooling efficiency by improving airflow in the cabinets, as well as providing improved scalability by simplifying moves, additions and changes in the space. EcoStruxure IT aiding Newcastle City Council to make the most of its data centre power The new data centre is managed using Schneider Electric’s next generation data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) software, EcoStruxure IT Expert. In addition, the technical environment is being monitored using an APC NetBotz appliance together with temperature and humidity sensors. The visibility this gives to the operation of the data centre is a marked improvement on the previous monitoring capability. Daniel Lynch commented, “We did have various monitoring systems in place before, but they were not integrated, and we still had to perform manual checks to make sure everything was functioning properly. Now there are sensors in each one of the racks allowing them to be monitored constantly. We also have CCTV in the data centre which we never had before, so that we can be alerted to any security issues.”
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The monitoring and management capabilities of EcoStruxure IT enables the City Council’s data centre operations team to identify any emerging concerns early – such as batteries suffering impaired performance as they near end of life. Armed with such information, upgrades and maintenance can be scheduled and performed with the minimum of downtime, avoiding any disruption to the ongoing provision of services to both internal and external customers. Benefits: greater insight and more efficient operation The results have greatly improved visibility of the data centre operations and consequently provided a greater ability to respond to issues as they arise. “We know everything is being monitored constantly and that gives us great reassurance,” added Lynch. “Any issue gets flagged and can be routed by the system to mobile devices, like smart phones, which is very useful if events occur out of hours.” Another key benefit of the software is that
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the power consumption of each of the IT equipment racks can be monitored. Power consumption data not only helps the council to improve its own electrical efficiency, but also opens up elements of the facility to cooperate with other bodies. For example, about 10% of the data centre’s real estate is now leased out to other public sector bodies, including HM Courts and the arbitration service ACAS. By carefully monitoring the power supply of each rack, the Council can charge accurately for its hosting services, producing a revenue stream that helps to offset its overall operating costs. It also makes possible the operation of a reciprocal disaster-recovery operation with another council, which greatly improves the resilience and continuous uptime of each body. Schneider Electric and APT meet the data centre needs of Newcastle City Council Paul Monaghan said, “Working together, Schneider Electric and its elite partner, APT were able to deliver a new data centre
while the building was being refurbished on what was effectively a construction site. They drew up the specification, delivered the solution and had everything up and running with no unplanned downtime. Such pressure on all parties involved means it’s not an experience I would like to go through again – but delivery of the new facility was highly successful.” “The project to design and deliver a new data centre for Newcastle City Council demonstrates how each service and product line provided by Advanced Power Technology comes together to deliver on performance and resilience,” said John Thompson, director of APT. Paul Monaghan concluded, “As a public body we are always looking for cost and energy efficiencies. Schneider Electric and APT were able to design and deliver an overall data centre solution that meets our needs and our expectations. The new facility enables us to meet our service commitments to all stakeholders while minimising the carbon impact of delivering IT services.”
DATA CENTRE DESIGN
Planning ahead Power solutions provider E+I Engineering gives us five key considerations for busbar route planning in the data centre.
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pace management continues to be a critical factor when planning any data centre project, as data centre solutions grow in scale and complexity to meet consumer demand. As a result, an increased level of power distribution and HVAC infrastructure is often required to support the data centre’s core functions, this eats into the data centre’s premium ‘whitespace’. Focusing on busbar systems specifically, poorly planned routes can negatively impact efficiency throughout the entire data centre lifecycle, resulting in increased lead times and costs. Therefore, it is important that busbar routes are carefully planned, taking into consideration how the system will accommodate other elements within the facility, such as ceilings, walls, doors, and other key infrastructure. The following key planning considerations can help to improve busbar route efficiency.
DATA CENTRE DESIGN
1. Early specification Although busbar systems generally have a lower lifetime cost when compared to traditional cabling methods, they still carry a considerably large cost in comparison to other construction elements, such as plumbing or heating systems. Additionally, the more bespoke busbar configurations, such as custom elbow joints required to route your busbar system around path obstructions, the more expensive the power distribution system will be. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to specify your busbar route before other elements, such as plumbing and heating systems, are planned in, as this will reduce the number of bespoke configurations required, making use of straighter busbar runs and significantly reducing project costs.
Focusing on busbar systems specifically, poorly planned routes can negatively impact efficiency throughout the entire data centre lifecycle, resulting in increased lead times and costs 2. Planning accuracy The cost of rework in the construction industry is typically around 5% of the overall contract value, not including time overruns which can rack up an additional 7% of total labour hours. BIM is an excellent tool for improving the accuracy of your busbar route. A central BIM model can be created at the beginning of the project allowing stakeholders to update the data centre design to reflect changes. This provides a digital replica of the entire data centre, making it easier to accurately identify obstructions that the busbar system must be routed around to plan more efficient pathways. By adding this extra step into the planning process, contractors can clearly see design conflicts may impact the feasibility of the proposed busbar route and rectify them before construction begins â&#x20AC;&#x201C; reducing the cost of rework and time overruns. 3. Conductor choice Aluminium has 62% the conductivity of copper and therefore requires a much larger conductor size to match the current carrying capacity of a copper conductor. The larger the conductor, the larger the overall cross-sectional area of the busbar trunking will be, this may be restrictive in certain applications where space is limited, including small switch rooms or underfloor applications.
It is key to consider the conductor choice carefully, as although the cost savings of opting for aluminium conductors may seem attractive, this could result in an inefficient use of space and limit the possibility of future expansion to the system. 4. System flexibility Data centre power distribution systems must be designed with flexibility to facilitate future expansion. This requirement is becoming increasingly important as the rate of change in the data centre industry continues to increase. To facilitate this, busbar routes must be planned to account for potential future requirements, ensuring that the route can be easily adapted to add additional power capacity as and when required. For instance, busbar trunking that has been routed under a raised floor will require additional work to reconfigure compared with an overhead system, as floor tiles and large IT infrastructure may need to be removed to allow sufficient access to the underfloor system. Taking the potential need for upgrades into consideration during the build, can reduce the amount of rework required to upscale the system at a later stage. 5. Access Deciding on a route for your busbar system will be very much dependent on the location of the incoming power source and the power consumers. Whilst BIM will help contractors identify physical clashes with other data centre infrastructure, careful attention must also be paid to ensure the chosen route is compliant with specified clearance and access requirements.
Deciding on a route for your busbar system will be very much dependent on the location of the incoming power source and the power consumers For instance, different clearances will be required for busbar lengths with and without tap off units. Where tap off points have been allocated, additional clearance must be left between the busbar and other building elements, the distance required will be dependent on the size of tap off units specified. Access will also be required for maintenance and upgrades; therefore, it is critical to ensure minimum clearances are adhered to so that safe and easy access can be gained to critical infrastructure as and when required.
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DATA CENTRE DESIGN
When demand dictates design Brian Johnson, ABBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s global data centre lead, explores how unprecedented data demand is shaping the evolution of data centre design.
here is no doubt that the data centre sector is witnessing the highest level of demand in its short history. Driven mainly by our increasing thirst for content delivery networks for entertainment, education, home working and online commerce, data centre usage has increased 47% during recent months.
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Demand is so high that the amount of data we now generate is growing 40 times as fast as the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population, and we expect IoT devices to create 90 zettabytes (ZB) of data by 2025. With the data centre construction market predicted to grow by $31.7 billion during 2020-2024, we will see increasing demand for more agile operations tailored to specific needs and the evolution of system design. Modern data centres are large purpose-built, mission critical pieces of infrastructure, with much more in common with industrial facilities than with commercial ones. As such, it seems natural that industrial-grade automation systems should be used to monitor and manage data centre infrastructure and design, particularly as the impact of 5G and IoT starts to be felt.
DATA CENTRE DESIGN
Over recent years, the data centre industry has evolved from an IT support system to on-demand scalable services that deliver increasing levels of security and sustainability. Once dominated by purpose-built on-premise enterprise data centres, we have seen a marked shift to off-premise colocation and cloud data centres, largely driven by the financial benefits of renting versus owning and higher levels of reliability. With a global spend of $38 billion on colocation services predicted by 2023 and multi-tenant data centres experiencing 5% growth, this is a trend that is set to continue. These increasingly popular services for enterprise clients allow companies to easily rent colocation data centre space from third parties or utilise cloud data centres, eliminating the need for building, cooling and security infrastructure. They also reduce the need to manage IT components, such as servers, data storage and firewalls. Coinciding with technological expansion, colocation providers are increasingly applying sound business practice to the design and construction of data centres. So much so, that data centres are now seen as critical profit centres, with strategies being aligned with business realities and capital and operational costs highly scrutinised. The task of creating flexible fortress-like data centres that safely and securely store and manage business critical data and applications under every conceivable situation, while simultaneously accommodating both short-term and long-term growth, is daunting. Flexible design In response, the industry has had to evolve new concepts for design, construction and operation. Pressure for high levels of reliability and maintenance are central to a holistic approach, satisfying industry requirements for redundancy and fault tolerances. To make sure that equipment replacement or removal does not impact critical load, data centres must be designed in a flexible and scalable way. This has led to broader standardisation of design to improve operational reliability. Given current demand levels, speed to market will heavily influence how designs evolve. Fast track project execution, short delivery cycles and cost-effective utilisation of assets are key to the success for data centre projects, as they have a direct impact on capital costs. In response to increasing demand for speed, we have seen a growth in pre-engineered solutions. These packaged solutions ensure safe, secure and continuous operation in a rapidly evolving data centre landscape. With limited site-work and smooth start up processes, they offer flexibility, scalability and cost-effectiveness to ensure a short and effective startup, along with operative reliability and maintainability. Conventional electrical topologies can be implemented in several different configurations, depending on project requirements and site conditions. Topology for safe, smart and sustainable operations Although most data centre electrification systems are unique, there are three main underlying topologies; system plus system, shared redundant and block redundant, all of which have different advantages.
System plus system topology This uses two totally independent systems to feed the critical load and is the basis of design for more conventional data centres, such as enterprise and colocation companies. While they have a strong reliability record, these systems can be prohibitively high to operate with a maximum asset utilisation of 50%. Shared redundant topology This is typically used by colocation, hyperscale and cloud data centres to allow customers to improve utilisation by up to 66% and achieve lowest possible costs and peak power efficiency. Block redundant topology For data centres with single corded loads, block redundant topology, which uses a Static Transfer Switch (STS) to transfer critical load from the primary system to the reserve or catcher system, can achieve an asset utilisation of 80%. This transformation from system plus system to more â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;modernâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; block redundant topology is not only driven by the increasing scale of data centres, but also by improvements in networking.
Over recent years, the data centre industry has evolved from an IT support system to on-demand scalable services that deliver increasing levels of security and sustainability Networks have shifted from previous monolithic on-premises enterprise to cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), which deliver faster deployments and immediate enterprise-wide availability, with the most up-to-date systems offering IoT and machine learning capabilities. Evolution is key Standard solution architectures, the pre-engineered integration of products for all electrical distribution needs from the utility service to the rack, have evolved as the answer to the data centre industryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fast changing needs. They tackle increasing demand for flexibility, scalability and cost-effectiveness to ensure quick start-up, reliability and maintainability. To keep pace with unprecedented levels of demand from our data hungry world, the way we design our data centres will have to continue to evolve. It is about protecting our future and is not an option, it is a given.
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Company Spotlight: Starline
As market leader in power distribution since the dawn of the internet in 1994, it is safe to say Starline is an expert in its field and, despite a global pandemic, the company continues to thrive. Here Mathew George, sales director, EMEA & SW Asia, shares the secrets to Starline’s success, as well the company’s exciting new acquisition with industry powerhouse Legrand, a move that has added yet more ammunition to Starline’s (already impressive) arsenal.
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First thing’s first, what industries do Starline primarily serve? On a global scale, 90% of what we sell is in the data centre space, the other 10% is retail and also labs and universities. Labs and universities are of course an important market, particularly prevalent right now due to Covid research. The universities we’ve partnered with include Cambridge, Birmingham and Oxford – we serve all of the major universities in the world. As Starline was established almost 90 years ago, how has the company’s mission statement evolved over this time? Prior to our acquisition by Legrand, Starline was a family-owned company, and our primary business statement has always been to serve the customer. Even post-acquisition, that remains our primary focus, to serve our customers to the best of our ability. If you ask for testimonies from the thousands of customers we have, they will tell you we have always been focused on their needs. Becoming part of a larger organisation does not change our original customer-first ethos. As mentioned previously, Starline is now a brand of Legrand, what was the thinking behind this merger and what are the advantages to Starline as a business? The one thing missing in Legrand’s portfolio was how to distribute power above the cabinets. The connection between the PDU and the main power distribution was the missing link, and that’s where busbar power distribution in the white space comes in, and that is Starline. We complete the missing portion of the power chain Legrand was looking for. We’ve also helped to bring Legrand’s offering full circle, from the transformers up to the PDUs and the racks, so Legrand has components in every part of the puzzle. I think we were selected because of our relationship with hyperscale customers throughout the majority of our business, that was a very strong pull for Legrand to have Starline as part of its portfolio. And if you look at the global data centre growth market, it’s the cloud players and hyperscalers growing that market. We also have a lot of advantages being part of the Legrand data centre solutions group. Many of the sub-components which are used in our manufacturing, like miniature circuit breakers, receptacles etc. are manufactured by Legrand. This gives us more control of our supply chain and means we can offer customers industry-leading delivery times. This has given us much more influence over the data centre package. We could be a one stop shop for any customer that needs to fit out a data centre. Legrand has helped us leverage that industry influence. From the very beginning, Starline’s vision was to be a worldwide industry leader in systems solutions for power distribution and management, it’s safe to say that nearly 90 years on, that has now been achieved. What do you feel is the secret to Starline’s success? Since Starline was first introduced we have always focused on our customers’ needs, and in the data centre industry where we primarily serve, that need is reliability. And how do you achieve reliability? That is the question we’ve always asked ourselves. We didn’t want to overcomplicate our product, we wanted to keep it as simple and stable as possible, and that’s exactly what we did. If you look at let’s say, one of our plug-in-units component-wise, that is the most complex product we have, yet it’s also the simplest. If you open up one of
our plug-in-units, you will not see a single moving part. Why is that important? Well, because every component in that chain has the potential to decrease reliability, so that means the fewer components you have, the more reliable the product. The more components, the higher the risk of failure, so the fewer you have the better. The simplicity of our design has been our strength, and is what has allowed us to grow from a small family-owned company, to the substantially bigger operation we have now. The proof is clearly in the product, so what makes Starline’s busway and busbar systems so unique/popular with customers? We have designed our busway in a manner that means it’s easier to install in any part of the world, even in the absence of a controlled environment. The system is dummy-proof in terms of the fact you can’t fix it the wrong way, it’s like putting Lego pieces together, it’s so easy to do – anyone watching a video tutorial could do it. In the wake of Covid-19, the onus on safety has of course been heightened across all aspects of business. Has Starline been impacted by the pandemic, if so, to what extent? Covid-19 has been an interesting time for all of us for multiple reasons. One of the reasons why Starline had expanded into numerous geographies with multiple manufacturing locations was for incidents like these, whether it be weather, an act of God or a pandemic like this. We haven’t put all our eggs in one basket, that means you could manufacture exactly the same Starline products in North America, Europe or Asia. We have three identical, well-proportioned factories in all three continents which can all manufacture the same products. So when the pandemic first affected Asia, moving onto Europe and America, all the while we managed to keep our factories open as they were designated part of the government’s critical infrastructure. That meant we could keep our UK and US factories open every day. Our UK factory actually had to increase from one shift to two during the lockdown to keep up with demand. We were actually having to hire people during this time. Also, it’s not just us, we are dependent on the supply chain and the component suppliers, and they have been affected in different ways, so having multiple locations has given us the reliability to weather a difficult storm. Covid-19 has brought about a lot of change, and much of our lives are now being played out in the digital space. As a result, we have never been more reliant on power than we are today, whether that be for work, staying in touch with friends and family, entertainment or simply staying sane. How does Starline ensure the reliability of its products since they are literally responsible for delivering mission critical power? We have a three-pronged approach to reliability. One, we have a product that is maintenance free. Meaning we have joints in the system which do not require nuts and bolts, making them maintenance free for life. Once installed, our product requires no human intervention. The second approach is utilising the technical advantages we have in terms of monitoring. We call this RCM (residual current monitoring), which allows us to monitor our products continuously on a real-time basis. These monitors allow us to look at whether the servers have any degradation on the
insulation, that way we can take preventative action. Just another way we are able to maintain a reliable network without having to shut down. Third, and equally important, we have a temperature monitoring system connected to our end feeds. What that does is, again on a real-time basis, it checks the temperature of all the lugs and incoming cables which come into our busway, giving us real-time alerts to any increase in temperature. These three factors combined mean we have a product that is completely free from human intervention, it will notify you well in advance of any problems, if there is any residual current degradation in the servers, or if there are issues with the connections or cables into the busway system. What this gives us in this climate of social distancing, is a product which will enable our end-user to react in such a way that they don’t need to be physically there to maintain or take care of our product. Safety and reliability have of course always been top of Starline’s agenda, but do you feel reliability and safety are now more important to the consumer than they perhaps were pre-pandemic? What we have seen is customers need the same level of service they used to get pre-pandemic. So, as a solution, we have gone virtual. For example, our factory acceptance tests are all virtual now, so we don’t need customers to be inside the factory. It’s all online and they can have a live inspection of the product, they can have live verification and it’s all recorded. So instead of having people flying thousands of miles to attend factory acceptance tests, it is much more environmentally-friendly this way and people can get the same results online without the air miles, the hotels and everything that comes with it. Sometimes these adversities force us to make changes and we find that these changes haven’t really impacted us in a bad way. As a company always evolving and innovating, what’s next for Starline? We continuously work on new product development and we have a lot of new products in the pipeline, we actually have a major new launch due to be announced in the next few months via our product development team, so watch this space.
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GREEN IT & SUSTAINABILITY
Going green When it comes to fighting climate change, green data centres are of course a step in the right direction. But what are the rewards for getting it right? David Watkins, solutions director at Virtus Data Centres, tells us more.
ith recycling commonplace, renewable energy now widely used, and cleaner living prioritised by governments around the world, businesses and consumers are increasingly mindful of how much their daily actions are contributing to global warming. One of the most difficult areas to account for is the energy consumed (and heat generated) by data centres. The constantly processing computers and servers which make life online possible, and which have become so ubiquitous, have long been considered as detrimental to the environment. Reports suggest that data centres currently use between 200 and 500 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year. Even at the lower end of this estimation, this accounts for 1% of the global electricity demand: more than the energy consumption of some entire countries – and surpassing that of some other energy hungry industries. However, whilst the topic of data centre efficiency should certainly be debated and discussed, it’s widely agreed that the industry has made positive strides from the legacy data centres of years past. And, while consuming large volumes of energy, it’s still more efficient to centralise IT resources in modern data centres than relying on on-premise storage solutions. So how are the builders of the digital infrastructure ensuring their green credentials? And, crucially, is being environmentally-friendly really just about meeting government mandates and doing the right thing? Or are there commercial rewards available for data centre providers who get it right?
This drives up utilisation, and maximises efficiency (both from an operational and cost perspective). Looking at plant management, there are now many technologies and methodologies that can be deployed to drive efficiency. Examples of this include highly efficient UPS’ (uninterrupted power supply), where unused capacity can ‘hibernate’ to reduce electrical losses. CRAC (Computer Room Air Conditioner) units are typically equipped with variable speed fans, which will regulate in line with demand to reduce energy consumption. Pumps are equipped with variable speed drives, which again will regulate in line with demand to reduce consumption, and, chillers often have ‘free cooling’ functionality, where within certain temperature ranges cooling can be provided at a lower level. Ground and air source heat pumps are also being deployed by the most conscientious providers, along with local energy generation, all making use of clean, naturally available resources.
Building green data centres from the ground up The definition of a green data centre as one that ‘uses resources more efficiently and has less environmental impact’ is valid as far as it goes, but it comes with a lot of latitude. So where do providers begin building an effective and measurable green strategy? The most obvious place to start is with the green credentials of the building itself. BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) standards look at the green credentials of commercial buildings, verifying their performance and comparing them against sustainability benchmarks. BREEAM measures sustainable value in a series of categories, ranging from energy to ecology. Each of these categories addresses the most influential factors, including low-impact design and carbon emissions reduction; design durability and resilience; adaptation to climate change; and ecological value and biodiversity protection. As well as the commitment to meeting BREEAM specifications, many providers also employ a modular build methodology to deploy capacity as and when required.
Reaping the rewards of going green For many in the technology industries, ‘green’ has historically meant ‘expensive’. However, this perception is simply no longer true. Green measures are supported by a number of governments around the world, many of whom offer tax incentives to invest in environmentally-conscious technology, in order to support carbon reduction targets at a national level. Furthermore, as technologies develop, demand is driving prices down, and it’s now not just more affordable to be environmentally aware, but potentially fiscally beneficial too. For example, reports show that infrastructure efficiency has improved by 16% since 2014, demonstrating that where steps are taken to improve issues like heating and cooling, cost savings can be made. The same is true when it comes to energy. In recent years the cost of hydrogen fuel cells has plummeted to the point where they are an economically viable alternative for standby generation, and the cost of renewable power is increasingly cheaper than any new electricity
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One of the most difficult areas to account for is the energy consumed (and heat generated) by data centres
GREEN IT & SUSTAINABILITY
capacity based on fossil fuels. Indeed, on average, new solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind power costs less than keeping many existing coal plants in operation, and auction results show this trend accelerating – reinforcing the case to phase-out coal entirely.
Reports suggest that data centres currently use between 200 and 500 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year It’s in the use of renewable energy where we can also see how being environmentally conscious is helping to better meet customer demand. Periods of electricity price surge or downtime associated with traditional energy sources can challenge providers to maintain service at the level that their users expect – whereas renewables are
already demonstrating increased reliability. Fixed pricing in renewable energy can help manage budget volatility – again important in meeting customer demand. A final word Energy improvements in data centre construction and management mean that the world’s increasing data use does not necessarily mean spiralling energy consumption and its associated environmental impact. Furthermore, trends such as the cloud are continuing to allow improvements in efficiencies to take place at huge scale. Being a responsible operator with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability is not just the right thing to do, it is increasingly what customers are demanding and can actually deliver commercial benefits. Perhaps the clearest return on investment for companies that invest in sustainability strategies is in cost savings. Helping to ensure that the internet, data use and smart technologies aren’t negatively impacting on the environment is a crucial tenet of fuelling a more sustainable world for the long-term. A connected planet, where remote working and e-commerce are the norm and public services are delivered online, is likely to significantly help reduce pollution.
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AI & MACHINE LEARNING
Putting an A in IoT Sophie Hand, UK country manager at EU Automation, explains how artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things work in harmony to provide us with the ‘brains’ we need to help transform manufacturing. manufacturers may not be designed to communicate with each other or with a central platform that provides an overarching view. Factor legacy equipment into this equation and you have a job on your hands. Gathering all the data into one IT system can be a mammoth task, but AI algorithms can help to train systems to analyse information to make this process easier. Using AI, data analysis can take place in real time, so that machinery can quickly respond to events in an emergency, or it can be used to identify patterns in previous data sets and use predictive analytics to figure out what’s coming next. Interestingly, Deloitte found that predictive maintenance can reduce the time required to plan maintenance by 20-50%, increase equipment uptime and availability by 10-20% and reduce overall maintenance costs by 5-10%. It also means you can predict equipment breakdowns before they occur, so you can have a replacement part handy when it’s most needed. he central nervous system is made up of the brain, the spinal cord and nerves. Your nerves respond to external stimuli, such as temperature or pressure, and transmit signals back to the brain, which decides on the appropriate reaction. In manufacturing, the myriad of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices act as the nerves, measuring parameters and collecting data, but what’s the brains behind the operation? Well, that is where AI comes in. Gartner predicts that by 2022, more than 80% of enterprise IoT projects will include an AI component, skyrocketing up from just 10% in 2019. The reasons behind this growth are clear – IoT devices generate vast amounts of operational data in industrial facilities, more than we may be able to deal with. Our facilities collect information on temperature, pressure, vibration, flow and more, all of which we could glean valuable insights from. AI, more specifically machine learning, can simulate intelligent behaviour and learn from experience to make use of sensor data, thus creating actionable insights from our connected devices. It’s a match made in heaven.
Data matters Why does AI offer such benefits to IoT users? Traditional data analysis methods were not designed with Big Data in mind, they cannot efficiently process the vast amounts of real time data we are collecting from our machines. By using AI, large data sets can be processed to identify patterns and insights with minimal or no human intervention, a much simpler approach. To enable this, a growing number of IoT platforms offer AI capabilities, such as Google Cloud IoT, Microsoft Azure IoT platform and AWS IoT. Artificial intelligence can also help manufacturers to cope with interoperability issues. Operational technology built by different
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Gathering all the data into one IT system can be a mammoth task, but AI algorithms can help to train systems to analyse information to make this process easier Edging forward We are also seeing AI implemented into edge devices to create the socalled intelligent edge. For example, Banner Engineering’s DXM Wireless Gateway Controller uses a machine learning algorithm to gain insights about the status of machines, by generating a baseline of operation, warning and alarm thresholds. IoT providers are updating their tools to make it easier for users to use AI at the edge. Microsoft, for example, announced Azure IoT edge, a platform that enables low-power devices to perform AI locally, while retaining cloud connection for management and modelling. Amazon’s Greengrass has also been updated to incorporate machine learning capabilities. One challenge is that significant computing power and capacity is needed to process the data quickly, so networks must be built to be suitable for AI. To do this, businesses can consider edge and cloud connectivity, scalability, availability, interoperability, bandwidth and more. Your nervous system would be nothing without the brain. IoT too requires brainpower to work efficiently and AI is up to the job.
Modular UPS: Reimagined Socomec has democratised big data centre technology to redefine modular UPS. Colin Dean, UK managing director at Socomec, tells us more.
oday’s critical infrastructures need to be flexible in terms of both physical products and extended support services – with the ability to accommodate rapid deployment requirements or system upgrades, all whilst maintaining the system’s maximum availability. Some of the latest modular UPS systems can now solve a number of problems in parallel – but this hasn’t always been the case. Designers, installers, maintenance staff
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and operators have developed preconceived ideas when it comes to modular technology – rooted in sub-optimum experiences associated with legacy equipment. In the past, modular did not always mean real modularity – but Socomec has embedded feedback and experience from customers and end-users in its multi-disciplinary development process to bust the myths surrounding modular, and to reimagine next-level electrical infrastructure and operational performance.
Not all modular UPS systems are created equal By understanding customers’ specific needs and using a collaborative ‘test and learn’ approach – involving customers early on in the development process – Socomec has addressed the market’s greatest concerns when it comes to modularity, whilst also reducing the complexity of the technology to provide absolute confidence in the new release.
Colin Dean, UK managing director at Socomec, explains, “By posing a series of practical questions, it’s possible to drill down into what really matters when it comes to modular added value performance. “For example, can you carry out a module hot swap in just five minutes? Are you certain that your UPS has no single point of failure? Can you perform truly risk-free online maintenance? Are you sure that your system won’t propagate faults? If the answer to any of those questions is no, then it’s time to re-think your modular system.” Socomec has driven a stream of innovation to guarantee the performance of the new electrical ecosystem by developing a disruptive range of UPS solutions that make the latest advances in technology more accessible – and easier to deploy – than ever before. New technology – de-risked With more than 20 years’ of experience in developing and supplying modular solutions, Socomec’s Modulys solutions provide the ultimate availability, scalability and extended lifetime to critical applications in IT infrastructures. Based on proven technology – with several thousand modular systems in the field – the range is available from 2.5 kW to 4800 kVA/kW, and has been described as the gold standard in terms of power scalability and risk-free maintenance in a truly online modular format. Colin continues, “By removing most of the risk and uncertainty often associated with new developments, and starting with the intrinsic value of products within our current range – combined with insight and expertise from the market – it has been possible to deliver something exceptional. “Because we have included our customers in the development process – at every step along the way – we have been able to take all the knowledge of our big data centre technology and democratise that technology – making it accessible and relevant for every application. “Furthermore, no matter which of our systems is right for a particular application, we have made some key features available across the entire Ultimate Modular UPS range – because we felt they were too good not to share.” Safe and easy deployment No matter whether an installation is focused and compact or seriously su-
Modular solutions deliver much faster risk-free maintenance at critical and sensitive stages – all while protecting the load in online mode during operation, maintenance and upgrade
per-scaled, installations are guaranteed to be safe and uncomplicated – for everyone. The unique flexibility of the modular system de-risks late-stage specification changes or last-minute on-site adaptations, and standardised bricks mean that customisation is quick and easy. Pre-engineered asset installation means that cabling challenges are a non-issue and the easy configuration display delivers exactly what it promises. Combined with guaranteed future hardware and firmware compatibility, installation has been carefully designed to be as easy as it gets. The five-minute, zero risk hot-scale True modularity means that a module can be added or removed while the load is fully protected and with zero risk of human error. The scalability is fast and foolproof – with no engineering skills required, no specific software tools or complex procedures. The simple plug-in process means that there are no requirements to place ‘hands inside’ – nor are there any complicated cabling reconfigurations to grapple with, therefore eliminating potential mistakes or hazards. Simplicity itself, additional modules self-test and auto-configure and the hassle-free automatic connection/disconnection ensures operator safety at all times. Risk-free maintenance Modular solutions deliver much faster riskfree maintenance at critical and sensitive stages – all while protecting the load in online mode during operation, maintenance and upgrade. Self-diagnostics provide immediate fault detection – and isolation, when required. Local spare modules make for an easy-swap and low MTTR – without intervention from specialist engineers. Furthermore, full module extraction means that maintenance can take place outside the critical system.
Superior resilience By rightsizing through modularity and robust design, system reliability can be maximised for the best possible overall resilience at the entire modular UPS level. Designed and engineered with no single point of failure – and zero fault propagation – the power module delivers a certified 1,000,000 MTBF, with appropriate granularity between intrinsic redundancy and MTBF impact at system level giving the required superior resilience. Colin Dean continues, “Advanced mechanical and electrical segregation design eliminates fault propagation; there is no single point of failure thanks to distributed control and peer to peer information sharing. “When thinking about the brain that powers the system, it’s important to remember that with a unique system control, a single point of failure is inevitable – which is why it’s so important to have shared control between different modules. “The Modulys range has been designed with distributed intelligence so that all modules operate intelligently on a peer-to-peer basis ensuring load sharing, synchronisation and selective tripping capabilities together with the coordination of static bypass control. What that means is that if one module is lost, the others are still able to exchange information with each other and to run the system whilst maintaining power availability.” Modular – reimagined for the future Socomec’s Modulys range has been developed to deliver the highest quality power – via the latest technologies – that is simple to deploy, whether for greenfield or priority upgrade projects. The flexibility of this next-generation modular architecture enables users to adapt – rapidly – to ever-changing requirements, and the hardware and firmware have been designed to provide a lasting solution with guaranteed future compatibility – across the entire system.
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Centiel: In pursuit of technical excellence Centiel is an innovative, high-quality UPS manufacturer with a long heritage. The innovators behind the company were pioneers of the industry, previously developing the first three-phase transformerless UPS and the first threephase modular UPS solutions. Here, David Bond, chairman, Centiel UK, gives us an insight into the company’s history, its vision and how it is helping drive UPS innovation through technical excellence.
A quick history lesson Filippo Marbach, founder, CEO and chairman of the board of Centiel, was the COO of Newave and led the research and development team that introduced many of the innovations that revolutionised the UPS industry. Shortly after ABB acquired Newave, Filippo left the company and set up Centiel with Newave’s head of R&D, Gerardo Lecuona, to continue to push the boundaries of UPS product development and pursue technical excellence for the next generation. The new Swiss-based Centiel team focused on developing new technologies that further improved both system availability and operating efficiency. The result was a brand-new UPS solution, CumulusPower, the fourth generation of a truly modular UPS solution, known for its 99.9999999% (nine-nines) availability, high levels of efficiency and low total cost of ownership (TCO). CumulusPower achieved this by enhancing Decentrailised Parallel Architecture to create Distributed Active-Redundant Architecture (DARA), which further increased system intelligence and resilience, and thereby system availability. CumulusPower is unique because of its ability to deliver a combination of class-leading availability, and efficiency in a reduced footprint. Furthermore, CumulusPower was developed using highly flexible frame sizes and module ratings enabling facilities to ‘pay as they grow’. Indeed, CumulusPower modules are so robust they can even be re-deployed as necessary if an organisation moves or requires a module at a different location. System availability is further increased by Centiel’s Triple Mode communications bus, a patented technology which increases system availability even further by increasing the speed and resilience of the system’s internal communication infrastructure. It’s just another example of where we have worked to remove single points of failure to increase availability even further and provide a very high quality solution. It was clear that a premium UPS solution needed premium quality support. With the UK offering the largest UPS market in Europe, the brand acquired a small service-based company in the UK to give it the instant ability to both sell and support Centiel products. Centiel was fortunate because people knew the innovators behind the brand and wanted access to the latest UPS technologies. The phone quickly started to ring and within three years Centiel had established a UK subsidiary, a subsidiary in Singapore covering the Asia Pacific market and had more than 50 channel partners across the world. Our aim is to add four to five channel partners in strategic locations each year, eventually having 100 channel partners in all the key markets across the globe. CumulusPower has now been installed in data centres and comms rooms in over 60 countries across five continents. Hundreds of megawatts of critical power loads are now protected with CumulusPower in locations including the UK, Singapore, Australia, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic and the Channel Islands. To manage the demand, since start-up, the Centiel factory in Lugano, Switzerland, has more than doubled in size with the capability of doubling in size again in the near future as the company continues to grow. The Centiel vision Our vision as an organisation is to eliminate all power quality problems. The power generating companies do a great job in producing good quality power, but this power will never be perfect by the time it reaches the end-user, because of random events such as spikes caused by lightning strikes and harmonic distortion caused by other power users.
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Currently, we are marketing our fourth-generation solution but, as innovators, our research and development team is working behind the scenes and developing our next generation of UPS, so watch this space. Our elevator pitch would be, ‘to minimise the risk of power protection problems, we supply UPS systems of the highest availability possible, which are flexible enough to do the specific job required, and agile enough to evolve as a business develops for the lowest cost possible’. I’m not talking about the purchase price here, but TCO, where increased efficiency, reliable quality components and the ability to constantly rightsize the system minimises whole life costs for Centiel’s end-users. The perfect UPS? 30 years ago, I was asked to write an article about the perfect UPS. At the time I allowed my imagination to run riot and said, ‘the perfect UPS never fails, is 100% efficient, takes up no space, presents a perfect load to the mains and costs nothing to purchase.’ Back then a typical 30kVA (24kW) UPS was 85% efficient, cost £30,000, was the size of a wardrobe and weighed ¾ tonne. Now for a few thousand pounds the same rating of UPS can be picked up with one hand and is more than 97% efficient. Over the years we have got much closer to the perfect UPS, however, in the future, we will go smaller and lighter with an even higher power density. Imagine a 600kW UPS the size of a desktop printer? We are a long way off that yet, but one day it may be possible if we keep pushing the boundaries and innovating. Centiel is focused on driving technology forwards. Our honest, experienced approach is trusted by organisations around the world to protect their critical power. It’s an approach which is already proving popular, and we aim to be pursuing technical excellence for many more years to come. At home, if the lights flicker or go out it’s not a very big deal, however, in a typical data centre the value of the IT equipment and the data it is processing is often incalculable. In addition to costly IT servers, the delicate equipment used in medical facilities and laboratories, for example, need perfect power all the time, which is why very high-quality UPS solutions are needed. Why would you install a cheap UPS using inferior components with a higher risk of failure in these critical environments? The answer is you wouldn’t. It is for this reason that many facilities are increasingly appreciating the need to move to a higher quality UPS solution to protect their critical power. This is where Centiel comes in. Centiel’s global sales are growing very strongly, whilst sales in the UK doubled last year and will more than double again in 2020, despite the challenges that come with launching a new brand. The majority of our customers are data centres and IT facilities, but we also supply to the healthcare, the banking and finance world, amongst others. In reality, almost every company needs a UPS, as they almost all have some form of IT infrastructure. Tiny companies with small servers and a few terminals need a small, cost-effective UPS. Companies with a network room/micro data centre through to huge data halls of the biggest data centres in the world all need Centiel UPS products. With businesses moving towards a more agile approach to work life balance, more staff are now working remotely. All needing technology-based communication methods, which will create more data that needs to be processed and stored. Furthermore, the continued growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G will result in even more data and so our market is certain to grow in the future.
Customer story Centiel UK joined forces with electrical sub-contractor Seahorse Services Ltd to complete the installation of a new UPS to protect the power to a central London venue. Located close to Covent Garden, the entertainment space is within an historical building used for dining, parties and drinks receptions, as well as meetings and conferences for up to 1,000 delegates. An outdated legacy UPS was replaced with one of Centiel’s top cable entry frames, fitted with 5 x 50 kW modules (200 N+1), along with 80 batteries now providing a 10 minute run time. This allows the switch over to a generator to ensure power is protected to the venue at all times. Louis McGarry, sales and marketing director at Centiel UK commented, “Seahorse managed the full design and build, working with the main contractor and the client. This included UPS, switchgear, lighting, flooring, ceiling, fire dampers, battery build, DC build, cable trays and all the cabling, which included 100 metres from the plant room’s switch gear to the generator, which was located externally. “Due to the small size of the plant room, it was important for us to utilise every inch of space, and so CumulusPower, with its top cable entry option, was chosen. The flexible, modular configuration of CumulusPower allows the inclusion of an input terminal to accept cables from above via steel wire armoured (SWA). It offered the perfect solution for the small plant room. The project was completed from strip out to commissioning of the UPS in 15 weeks.”
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Adapting through automation
Lance Devin, CIO at EdgeConneX, explores automating the data centre in order to cater for our increasingly digitised world.
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he pandemic has created global shifts in the way people work, learn, shop, socialise and play. And yet, even as some offices, schools, retailers, dining establishments and entertainment venues slowly begin to reopen, some companies have already announced aggressive plans to continue with remote work. A recent survey by IBM found that 54% of US employees would prefer to work primarily remotely, with three out of four stating they would like to continue to work from home at least in a partial capacity. To look at the companies with plans to extend their work-from-home (WFH) policies well into next year, some permanently, is to witness a procession of many of the most successful organisations in the world across every industry dynamically changing the way they do business.
The digital transformations and remote workforce mobilisations that have occurred virtually overnight wouldn’t have happened if data centre operators couldn’t ensure uptime for their customers
Among these firms are Big Tech (Amazon, Google, Microsoft), financial and insurance services (Mastercard, Nationwide), retail (REI) and social media (Facebook, Twitter). Zillow, the real estate database company, and Square, the mobile payment and merchant services operator, have also recently announced their employees could WFH indefinitely. As anyone in our industry is all too aware, the digital transformations and remote workforce mobilisations that have occurred virtually overnight wouldn’t have happened if data centre operators, who have been limiting access to their facilities because of the threat of the coronavirus, couldn’t ensure uptime for their customers. That said, some data centre providers have long been prepared to make sure the world stays connected, while maintaining the health and safety of their staff, partners and vendors. And, interestingly enough, the technology that enables the data centre to support the rising demand for streaming media, video conferencing, cloud collaboration platforms and virtual private networks (VPNs) – tools that have become business-critical to the remote workforce – also has its roots in automation and remote capability. Why is this noteworthy? Because many data centres still rely on manual processes, such as craftsman tape measures and spreadsheets, to perform jobs that could be automated and made more efficient through innovative software solutions. When data runs the data centre, global scaling is within reach Data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) tools, the first generation of which entered the market in 2007, monitor and control data centre utilisation and energy consumption of all IT-related equipment, including servers, storage, and network switches, as well as facility infrastructure components, such as power distribution units (PDUs) and computer room air conditioners (CRACs). But many of these software solutions aren’t designed to enable remote data centre monitoring and management across all of an organisation’s deployments or all of its locations. Nor are they designed to enable data centres to be operated as unmanned, ‘lights-out’ facilities, a critical shortcoming in view of the safety concerns surrounding on-site staff in the wake of Covid-19. While ensuring the performance and productivity of a rapidly expanding mobile workforce, this capability is essential for organisations to meet the rising demands for compute while maintaining business continuity. Web and cloud hyperscalers, Software as a Service (SaaS) providers and IT service providers require the ability to easily manage, monitor
and enable their data centre assets and operations, with a secure view into their infrastructure across an expanding global footprint – from anywhere, at any time – and that means having access to critical operational data. The stumbling block here is that many data centre providers deploy DCIM solutions to target individual silos, such as security, communications management, facility management, change management, data and capacity management.
Data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) tools, the first generation of which entered the market in 2007, monitor and control data centre utilisation and energy consumption of all IT-related equipment
As a result of emerging technologies and innovations, from IoT and smart cities to AI, machine learning, and cloud services, the world will see substantial growth in data centres of all sizes at the edge, from 25kW to 100MW or more, worldwide. These developments will require hyperlocal edge deployments supporting ultra-low latency requirements to ensure real-time responses and reliable, secure and high-performance user experiences. And any organisation using data centre services must ask if those services include a DCIM solution that allows them to manage their data centre assets, anywhere, at any scale, and from a single pane of glass. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed at the edge, outside the cloud or a traditional centralised data centre, up from just 10% just two years ago. Hence, the edge data centre that leverages automation for every type of customer, use case, size of deployment, and location to create operational efficiency and scale will become ever more essential to our increasingly digitised world.
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Unsustainable staffing? Data centres may be becoming more sustainable with regards to their energy use, but rising demand is telling a very different story when it comes to finding the skilled professionals needed to run them. Ryan Hogg, senior hardware product manager at Opengear, explores how we go about navigating the data centre staffing crisis.
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ey findings from the Uptime Institute global data centre survey 2020, indicate both that the data centre staffing shortage is getting worse over time and it is getting more challenging to find skilled employees. As many as 50% of data centre managers reported difficulties in finding qualified candidates to fill open roles, up from 41% last year and 38% in 2018. The drivers behind this are many and various. In some regions, the problem is being fuelled by a straightforward shortage of engineers, in others, significant growth in the number of new data centres is ramping up unsustainable demand for staff.
As many as 50% of data centre managers reported difficulties in finding qualified candidates to fill open roles, up from 41% last year and 38% in 2018
Additionally, of course, operating a 24/7 data centre typically requires second and third shift work for entry-level positions – and that can be a disincentive for new applicants. Many may decide to opt instead for more of a nine-to-five role within the sector, or choose a career in an alternative area of engineering. Often too, organisations may find that they simply do not have an available local population with the necessary skills to fulfil data centre jobs, because they are building these data centres in areas that are predominantly rural, where power is cheaper, or in climates where there is more natural cooling, but few local people with the skills they require. All of this does not take into account the compounding effects of the current pandemic. There is likely to be some reluctance to hire data
Network automation is advancing today to move away from a person-to-port model and towards a machine-to-machine configuration, which allows for auto-response centre staff that the organisation has not physically sat down with to come into a data centre environment – especially if that data centre is co-located and multi-tenancy focused. If management has not met that person face-to-face, there may be some reluctance to appoint that person and trust them with the security of that environment. Finding staff with the right skills to fill data centre positions locally is, in other words, very difficult and getting more so. Compounding the problems for data centre managers, Covid precautions make access to data centres much more difficult, even for existing staff. From the outset of the pandemic, many organisations restricted access to the data centre to just a few more senior members of the engineering team. Finding a way forward Fortunately, there is a solution available to the current challenge of data centre skills shortages. Technology can play a key role here in easing the problem. The latest Smart Out-of-Band management solutions are designed to give engineers either a secondary connection or a cellular back up connection when the primary access to the network has been lost. This enables engineers to remotely log into the network using multiple methods, whether it is over their primary WAN connection or their cellular failover. That means that if they make a change remotely and lose their primary access, they have a cellular backup, even into serial ports or Ethernet, that enables them to restore their configuration to regain primary access or continue operations. Added to this, VPN tunnels give engineers and engineering teams that physical premise experience without having to be physically present. Together, this can provide a secure way to remotely connect to equipment and manage and restore devices. NetOps and network automation can help here too, especially as
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new data centres come online and ramp up their activity. As part of a concept known as day one provisioning, network engineers can send out pre-configured Smart Out-of-Band console servers with NetOps automation features to the site. Instead of sending out a dedicated team to deploy and set up, engineers can pre-configure the requisite appliances so that when the equipment arrives on-site, it can simply be racked up and connected by a small team of lower-skilled staff. A team of more technically-skilled engineers could then use the cellular connection to bring up those devices remotely; have connections into them to start pushing out the configurations, updates, user profiles and access controls. In short, they can provision the whole solution remotely once it is physically installed. Remote IP network automation can provide further enhanced manageability, allowing network engineers to have a single plane of management to easily and seamlessly access the devices and manage them without having to be physically on-site. Network automation is advancing today to move away from a personto-port model and towards a machine-to-machine configuration, which allows for auto-response. When an incident occurs, the system can restore or reconfigure on its own, without requiring somebody to go onsite or even to manually log in and fix the system.
Moving to a remote workforce All this capability is helping data centres to start hiring remotely located engineers rather than having to confine their search to those located in the vicinity of the site itself. Data centres could have lower level or junior staff on-site 24/7, but they could also have a dedicated resource of skilled remote staff logging into the data centre remotely from wherever they are based. That helps address the data centre skills challenge by expanding the area from which employees can be chosen, but it also benefits the organisation more broadly by supporting a ‘follow the sun’ model, whereby different shifts can be brought online as time passes by. The data centre has access to its preferred engineers at hours that suit those employees and it has the benefit of running a continuous service as a result. When allied to the network automation capabilities referenced earlier, all of this also allows the data centre to be more productive and, in a sense, do more with less – a key benefit especially in the current difficult times. Ultimately, the growing capability of Smart Out-of-Band & NetOps automation technology, together with the processes that deliver secure remote access is the best route forward to solving today’s data centre staffing crisis.
Honeywell and Vertiv team up to help improve global data centre sustainability
oneywell, a specialist in connected buildings, and Vertiv, a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions, will work together to create integrated solutions to optimise data centre sustainability, resiliency and operational performance. These solutions are expected to be available in 2020. The partnership builds on Honeywell’s building management systems (BMS), operational software, and safety and security products. This will run alongside Vertiv’s uninterruptible power supply (UPS), power distribution,
thermal management, infrastructure monitoring and modular solutions, to enable operators of hyperscale, large enterprise, colocation and edge data centres to integrate multiple domains of data within a data centre. The companies will leverage building-operations data to drive optimisation of operations, reducing energy use and costs while improving data centre performance and sustainability. The companies’ initial focus will be on microgrid solutions for data centres to enable more efficient integration of alternative energy sources such as solar arrays, fuel cells and
batteries, and to provide a scalable approach for operators to quickly enhance functionality and improve total cost of ownership. Vertiv 023 8061 0311 www.vertiv.com
IP House introduces ‘IP Cloud Connect’ solution P House has announced IP Cloud Connect, a new collaborative virtual cloud solution offering high performance and diverse connectivity, secure colocation and hosting services, and business continuity for managed office and enterprise businesses. Launched in conjunction with its traditional colocation and hosting services, the IP Cloud Connect partnership comprises IP House, IP Office, CXS and Cloud Systems, offering an optimised cloud transformation solution for businesses seeking to increase remote working performance, system resiliency and improve the customer experience.
With more businesses now adopting remote working strategies, IP Cloud Connect ensures accessibility to critical data and host-
ed applications 24/7. Harnessing the expertise of industry experts, the service enables companies to minimise impact from cloud disruption, power outages or bandwidth issues, which can result in loss of revenue, reputation and customer satisfaction. From resilient data centre infrastructure with enhanced cybersecurity through to private, public and hybrid cloud solutions, business operations can continue undisrupted with IP Cloud Connect. IP House 0207 538 4788 www.ip-house.co.uk
Introducing Schneider Electric’s new EcoStruxure innovation chneider Electric has enhanced its management platform EcoStruxure IT Expert with AI-supported UPS battery health assessment, an industry breakthrough of predictive capability. In addition, to make remote management and monitoring even more accessible to all customers, Schneider Electric is announcing its APC by Schneider Electric Smart-UPS is now available with a pre-installed Network Management Card 3 (NMC3) for advanced cybersecurity. Due to the increased need for remote management in distributed edge computing or hyper-converged IT environments, Schneider
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Electric is also announcing the NetShelter 9000 Series Switched Rack Power Distribution Unit (PDU), which offers increased remote management reliability in a wider temperature range. Schneider Electric’s three latest introductions make remote monitoring and management more robust and secure for IT operators across the globe. EcoStruxure IT is Schneider Electric’s next-generation data centre management solution, featuring remote management from virtually any device – phone, tablet, or home PC – at any time. It enables data centres to maintain operations and availability when minimal or no qualified staff are available on-site.
Schneider Electric 0870 608 8608 www.se.com
SSE Enterprise Telecoms further expands network across the UK
SE Enterprise Telecoms has added eight new data centres to its network, whilst also having upgraded four existing facilities. SSE Enterprise Telecoms is now connected to more than 90 commercial data centres across the UK and forms part of the telecoms provider’s overall investment programme to deliver high capacity connectivity across England, Scotland and Wales to support the ever-increasing capacity demands of UK businesses. Whatever the task, processing information is critical for the smooth-running of any business. And that requirement is felt in all corners of the UK, prompted by emerging
technologies such as 5G and IoT. In recognition of this fact, SSE Enterprise
Telecoms has connected eight new data centres in England, Scotland and Wales, including ASK4 in Sheffield, AQL DC2 and DC5 in Leeds, SCC and Six Degrees in Birmingham, DataVita and Pulsant in Glasgow, and Next Generation Data in Newport. All of which are live and available for service immediately. The business has also upgraded Global Switch 2, Interxion Hanbury Street in London, LD5 in Slough, and Kilburn House in Manchester to facilitate 100Gbps and 10Gbps Ethernet services as standard. SSE Enterprise Telecoms 0345 070 0049 www.ssetelecoms.com
Riello UPS extends super-efficient NextEnergy range
tandby power specialist Riello UPS has expanded its NextEnergy (NXE) series with a new 500 kVA model. The three-phase transformerless UPS delivers TÜV-certified efficiency up to 97% in double-conversion online mode, making it a reliable and cost-effective solution for data centre operators. Now available in 250-300-400-500 kVA versions, install up to eight NXE UPS’ in parallel for extra power, redundancy, or autonomy. Hot System Expansion functionality enables operators to add extra units without the need to switch to bypass, while its
intuitive Efficiency Control System ensures optimum performance across all load levels. NextEnergy provides outstanding installation versatility. Front-to-top ventilation and front access for maintenance eliminates rear clearance, enabling space-saving installation against the wall or even back-to-back. It also offers top or bottom cable entry and operates with or without a neutral connection. Its host of energy-saving features include Active ECO operating mode, which delivers enhanced 98.5% efficiency while avoiding the need for any power factor correction, and smart cooling where fan speed automatically
adjusts according to the load. Riello UPS 01978 729 297 www.riello-ups.co.uk
Centiel partners with Seahorse Electrical and Maintenance Services Ltd entiel UK, has joined forces with electrical sub-contractor Seahorse Electrical and Maintenance Services Ltd. Seahorse has now become one of Centiel’s preferred partners for DC and AC works. Louis McGarry, sales and marketing director, Centiel UK explains, “We have a long-standing relationship with the team at Seahorse and have recently completed several large projects with them, including a 7.2MW installation at a major medical facility. We are now delighted to cement this relationship on an ongoing basis. “Most recently we have worked with Seahorse to complete the installation
of a new UPS to protect the power to a central London Venue located close to Covent Garden. “An outdated legacy UPS has been replaced with Centiel’s fourth-generation three phase modular UPS, CumulusPower, which offers industry-leading 99.9999999% (nine, nines) availability translating to just milliseconds of downtime per year.” The new UPS now supports the power for the entire building including lights, lifts, sound systems, a small gift shop, the internet, phone system and servers. Centiel 01420 82031 www.centiel.co.uk
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AI needs YOU! Despite the highly publicised IT skills shortage we are currently experiencing, that doesn’t mean the demand isn’t there, particularly when it comes to roles within AI and automation – after all, we can’t let the machines have all the fun. Here, Neil Ballinger, head of EMEA at EU Automation, examines the UK’s top-three emerging jobs and what these trends mean for manufacturers. espite the financial instability that characterised the first half of 2020, the demand for professionals in the field of data management and artificial intelligence (AI) is steadily on the rise. This is what emerges from LinkedIn’s 2020 UK Emerging Jobs Report, which revealed that companies are on the lookout for individuals that have a strong technical background, but also outstanding problem-solving skills. According to a recent survey, the shortage of STEM skills is costing UK companies £1.5 billion a year. As a consequence, it is not surprising that LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report for the UK shows that candidates with a solid technical expertise are extremely sought after. In manufacturing, this means recruiting candidates with a strong STEM background, and those who can understand the concerns of manufacturers and solve concrete business problems, such as improving product quality or saving on equipment maintenance. So, what are these profiles?
Artificial intelligence specialist According to McKinsey, AI could deliver a 22% boost to the UK’s economy by 2030. In manufacturing, AI is transforming high-value operations, allowing industry-players to base their decisions on evidence provided by big data. As a consequence, at the top of LinkedIn’s report we find candidates with strong knowledge of machine learning, computer vision, Python and neural networks. These skills are essential to develop AI-based technologies that respond to critical needs of any manufacturing business, such as advanced systems for quality assurance, solutions for remote condition monitoring, and software for demand prediction. Data protection officer (DPO) Following the impact of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the UK Data Protection Act of 2018, DPOs have become essential
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figures in a variety of industries. DPOs make sure that the handling of personal or sensitive data complies with data protection regulations, but also that data is processed and stored safely, minimising the risk of information theft. In manufacturing, one of the main tasks of a DPO is to make sure that sensitive information, such as customer details or information protected by a non-disclosure agreement, doesn’t fall into the hands of hackers. This can occur, for example, when data from IoT-devices is transferred to the cloud. To prevent this from happening, a DPO might decide to process data at the edge when possible, or to develop a hybrid cloud-edge strategy. Robotics engineer The latest World Robotics report by the International Federation of Robotics shows an annual global sales value of 16.6 billion USD in 2018, with 422,000 units sold globally, a record in the sector. These figures prove that manufacturers have realised the potential of robots to drastically improve operations. Despite the uptake of robotic automation, companies still need experts that can effectively programme and train industrial robots. LinkedIn’s report stresses the demand for engineers with knowledge of code and software like those developed by UiPath, which help manufacturers automate repetitive tasks. The trends unveiled by LinkedIn’s report signal that companies in every sector are striving to innovate by combining the potential of AIbased solutions with insight from big data to increase efficiency, improve quality and reduce costs. Companies that don’t keep up with the times face the risk of being outcompeted. Manufacturers should consider recruiting for people who can turn their technical expertise into solutions that can be implemented at a shop floor level. At the same time, manufacturers might want to invest in cost-effective solutions that can get them started into their journey to Industry 4.0.
Providing solutions tailored to the needs of your business
Levant currently have hired UPS systems installed across a variety of sectors such as; banking, healthcare and data management. Our UPS hire options are tailored to the needs of your business and we can have hire UPS systems installed on site in minimum time. We hold in stock a wide range of UPS hire systems from a variety of high end UPS manufacturers. The systems we have available for UPS hire are fully serviced and periodically tested to ensure they are ready to run at short notice. UPS hire is a growing market as it aﬀords businesses the option of covering peak times during business such as public holidays or large sporting events without the huge ﬁnancial commitment of purchasing a brand new UPS system. This gives sites a greater deal of ﬂexbility allowing for adaptable power protection in line with the demands of your business. We will maintain the system and provide a 24-hour call out response for the entire duration of the UPS hire. Get in touch with us to ﬁnd out about the range of leading-brand, high quality units that we oﬀer for immediate UPS hire.
Containerised and free-standing UPS systems available to hire with rapid response and UK wide coverage Short term and long term options available with or without batteries Contact us today for more information or a quote
Telephone: 0844 381 4711