UPS Issues Found to be Leading Cause of Issues with Power Services for Data Centers

Issues with UPS equipment and configuration issues are atop the most frequently cited reasons of outages in power services for data centers, according to a survey of more than 450 data center professionals.

The study, conducted by the Ponemon Institute, also highlighted issues between data center staff and company executives regarding uptime readiness.

The National Survey on Data Center Outages surveyed 453 data center staff members in the U.S. who have responsibilities associated with data center operations. They were asked about the frequency and cause of unplanned data center outages and efforts to avoid downtime. A staggering 95 percent of participants reported an unplanned data center outage in the last two years. Most cited insufficient best practices in place and lack of investment as direct factors for unplanned outages.

Power Services for Data Centers

The top issues related to unplanned data center outages included:
UPS battery failure: 65 percent
Exceeding UPS capacity: 53 percent
Accidental emergency power off/human error: 51 percent
UPS equipment failure: 49 percent

Data center professionals also cited cost containment as an issue with power services for data centers with 59 percent of respondents agreeing with the statement: “the risk of an unplanned outage increased as a result of cost constraints inside our data center.”

It appears that as executive-level management was working to cut costs on power services for data centers, they were ultimately leaving their data center open for disaster. This is a perfect example of the “perception gap” between senior and executive-level management and data center staff as to the best way to manage potential issues found on a daily basis within a data center. To further prove this disconnect, 60 percent of senior-level feel senior management full supports efforts to prevent and manage unplanned outages, as opposed to 40 percent of supervisor-level staff and below.

These two groups also disagreed on how frequently their facilities experienced downtime. A total of 56 percent of senior executives believe their facility experienced unexpected downtime, as opposed to 45 percent of “average” employees agreed to the same statement.

The role of UPS issues was not completely unexpected, given the prominent role uninterruptible power supplies play in data center design and management today.

“When you consider that downtime can potentially cost data centers thousands of dollars per minute, our survey shows a serious disconnect between senior-level employees and those in the data center trenches,” said Larry Ponemon, Ph.D., chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “This sets up a challenge for data center management to justify to senior leadership the need to implement data center systems and best practices that increase availability and ensure the functioning of mission-critical applications. It’s imperative that these two groups be on the same page in terms of the severity of the problem and potential solutions.”