Power Services for Data Centers and the Power Factor

The Complexity of Data Centers

Power services for data centers are very complex to specify, configure, install, and protect. Today’s data centers contain terabytes of storage housed within blade servers and other high-density computing solutions. Additionally, many companies are moving to VOIP (voice over internet protocol) as a way to save on phone costs. While this is a great solution, it does put more pressure on already over-utilized servers. All this equipment means that the selected power service should be tied into a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) system for proper protection.

What is a UPS?

An uninterruptable power supply (UPS) is an electrical system that provides back up power to a load when the main power source fails. A UPS system provides instantaneous, or near-instantaneous, protection from power interruptions. Power from most uninterruptible power sources provides s short window of opportunity for IT staff. This window of opportunity will allow for a proper and orderly shutdown of all equipment housed within a data center by IT staff. While this opportunity is short-lived, about five to 15 minutes, it does provide valuable time to prevent hardware and software issues and damage that can occur when IT equipment is not shut down properly and result in loss of data or hardware damage. A UPS system is an important part of power services for data centers and should not be removed from a budget in order to save money. That could be a very costly mistake in the long run.

What is a Power Factor?

A power factor is a quantity which has important implications when configuring a UPS system, power distribution equipment and power services for data centers. Power systems are based on direct current (DC). However, in an alternating current (AC) power system, some AC current may flow into and back out of the load without delivering energy. This is referred to as harmonic current and can give rise to an “apparent” power, which is larger than the actual power consumed. The difference between apparent power and actual power is referred to as the power factor. The power factor is equal to the ratio of the actual power to the apparent power. Apparent power is know as volt-amp (VA) rating. Ultimately, that means the actual power in any AC system is the VA rating, multiplied by the power factor.

Power Services for Data Centers, UPS and Power Factor

The power factor plays directly into the selection and implementation of a UPS system and power services for data centers. This type of determination should be made between a power professional experienced in the configuration of data centers and the IT staff. This group of individuals will be able to determine exactly what type of UPS system is required to adequately protect all servers and other data center equipment.