Natural disasters are on a constant rise. There were at least 296 natural disasters recorded globally in 2013, with our region contributing the highest number. As Singapore is close to the equator, the tropical climate is a hot bed for thunderstorms. It has one of the highest occurrences of lightning activity worldwide.
On top of natural disasters and extreme weather conditions, businesses are also facing the risks of cyber-attacks, power grid failures, all of which will lead to blackouts and power outages, causing operation disruptions. In Singapore, we have a limited number of power suppliers, which puts companies at a higher risk of power grid failures. When power grids are attacked by unforeseen circumstances like natural disasters, the impact can go beyond a building’s physical state to damage the critical infrastructure and IT systems in the offices.
Here’s another sobering statistic from the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C: 93% of businesses that have lost availability in their data centres for 10 days or more have filed for bankruptcy within one year.
Therefore, it is a sound business continuity strategy to have in place a power backup and recovery system, such as an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system. However, quite often, companies fail to see the value of going one step further and investing in the continuous improvement of the critical infrastructure to ensure undisrupted operation. Only when you have a good product, a sound design, a plan for ongoing infrastructure and operation improvement, and a system to monitor and proactively improve its performance, are you truly ready in the face of power disruptions.
Here are some quick tips for you to achieve continuous monitoring, assessment and maintenance of your UPS system:
The information available from technology is vast (think Big Data). That data should be harnessed to prevent potential failure. You should invest in an integrated management system, such as Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM), that allows 24/7 remote management of the critical environment, including security, power, heat and humidity.
Continuous Infrastructure and Operation Improvement
Regular structured assessments should be conducted on both the infrastructure performance and how the data centre is operated, which will enable you to develop the continuous improvement plans necessary to ensure efficiency and uptime.
As the critical infrastructure ages, it is exposed to more risks and unexpected issues or downtime due to aging components. Obsolete equipment is the leading cause of downtime, impacting overall productivity and efficiency. It also prevents you from evolving your critical infrastructure to meet current and future business requirements. An important part of the life cycle approach is to monitor, assess and upgrade your equipment where necessary quickly, with minimal interruption.
For example, batteries for UPS systems have to be optimised regularly to prevent failure because they have finite life spans. To increase reliability, monitoring can be installed and batteries can be tuned to extend life.
I’d also recommend you to practice periodic examinations of any change in the IT environment as well. Factors such as an increased IT load would require optimisation of the infrastructure to support the increased load and maintain desired runtime.
Singapore has a hot and humid climate, so when you design your data centre, it is necessary to enable sufficient use of cooling technology. This, however, has an adverse effect on energy costs. Therefore, data centre design is to find the perfect balance between system availability and efficiency.
The bottom line is that you have to be prepared for the unexpected, and always keep your critical infrastructure intact through well-structured continuous improvement of the systems.