The data center market is under increasing pressure to meet growing consumer demands while maintaining uptime and optimizing efficiencies. In response, forward-looking colocation operators and data center owners are beginning to add power digitalization into electrical and server room spaces. An intelligent power management system provides real-time visibility into power and equipment status to improve operations, address sustainability goals, and proactively deal with risk.
There are multiple ways to digitalize power management in the data center. On the electrical room side, digital upgrades can be applied to service entrances, transfer switches, connectors, switchgear, panels, and transformers. On the server room side, instrumentation of power infrastructure, including busbar, power distribution units (PDU), and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), is now more common. In addition, the new intelligent electrical distribution systems add smart electrical metering and sensors for capturing electrical system performance data and power management and monitoring software to analyze that data in real time.
Power digitalization benefits translate into peace of mind
By adding this extra layer of intelligence to their data center electrical system operations, data center owners and colocation providers gain significant business benefits. These include:
When data center electrical systems are improperly configured, operated, and maintained, the risk of unanticipated downtime increases, as does the possibility of damage to plant equipment and injury to on-site employees. The digitalization of data center power systems helps to optimize safety for people and assets while improving reliability and business continuity. For example, strategically placed thermal sensors continuously monitor abnormal temperature rises and alert personnel to any thermal problems before an arc flash or electrical fire destroys equipment or injures people.
Fewer instances of downtime
According to the Uptime Institute, over 60% of data center failures result in at least $100,000 in total losses (up substantially from 39% in 2019). In addition, the share of outages that cost upwards of $1 million increased from 11 to 15% over that same period. Uptime Institute highlights that power-related outages account for 43% of the outages classified as significant (causing downtime and financial loss).
One of the ways that intelligent electrical distribution systems address this issue is by enabling more precise data center power capacity management. This approach helps data center operators by providing visibility into whether electrical assets are underutilized or overutilized. If underutilized, the electrical assets represent sunk costs that are not providing a return on investment. If overutilized, circuit overloads can lead to unanticipated downtime.
Better compliance reporting
Another advantage of an intelligent electrical distribution system is the ability to document and demonstrate compliance with industry power quality standards like IEEE 519 (a system guideline for setting limits on voltage and current distortion). The software tracks electrical system performance and determines whether the power quality incidents in the data center were severe or minor. The software classifies those incidences and generates reports that can be used to address the requests of regulators and utilities regarding the distortion of waveforms and emission of harmful harmonics. Such insights allow the data center owners to avoid unnecessary fines or surcharges, and to improve the safety of data center staff.
Instrumentation of data center electrical systems allows data center owners and colocation providers to monitor PUE (an industry-standard metric for measuring data center efficiency) for any given time range, including hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly. As a result, colocation managers can fine-tune power and cooling system performance to drive higher overall system efficiency. Devices such as metered rack PDUs also allow for remote environmental management of racks and pods at the circuit level to further maximize efficiency. In addition, the capability to isolate potential problems to a single circuit means that operators can react to alarms and troubleshoot quickly and effectively.
A data center is energy intensive; it requires a higher power and cooling level than a typical office building. As one of the fastest growing energy consumers, data centers are now targeted by regulators, shareholders, and colocation tenants to document and control carbon emissions.
By gathering accurate and relevant data from intelligent meters (like PowerLogic meters), data centers can lay the foundation for an effective energy management plan. Measurement enables improvement by revealing the results of sustainability initiatives. Modern meters facilitate remote, automatic, energy consumption data collection. By using existing site networks and wireless technologies, the energy data is consolidated and shared with users via web-based tools. This process simplifies gathering energy consumption, load demand, and power quality data—all of which also impact energy costs and CO2 emissions control.
Interested in discovering more about intelligent power management?
To learn more about how intelligent power management can help improve data center electrical system performance, reduce downtime, and save costs, access the e-guide “The essential guide to intelligent power management for data centers.”