Powering up SMBs

1 Author : November 2, 2010 0

Power outage management in SMBs is not just restricted to installing UPS but requires deployment of a complete power-conditioning solution. Let’s take a look

Isha Gakhar

The Indian economy is facing power shortages on an annual basis, which is why it is becoming more and more important for businesses, regardless of their size or location, to adopt power conditioning methods through the Power Conditioning Equipment (PCE) available in the market.

Power conditioning is a technique which not only guarantees clean and steady power availability to an enterprise, but also takes care of power redundancy issues through power back-ups and alternate supply provisions. And, for SMBs power-conditioning and back up solutions are becoming crucial because IT infrastructure needs un-interrupted clean power.

Models in demand
DSP based control UPS systems with unity power factor are hot.
Periodic power quality audit service which helps customers to identify problem areas is also picking up lately.

Save critical information and protect the equipment from power hazards.With increasing competition amongst Indian SMBs, downtime due to power failure is the last thing anybody would want. Besides downtime, interruption in power like spikes and surges can also damage equipment. Hence, SMBs need to be aware of the kind of power problems that can occur, and what kind of equipment can be used to protect against them.

Hot new trends
Power conditioning doesn’t just mean installing a UPS system. SMBs have to look beyond a UPS in order to protect their business from downtime caused by power problems.
As far as UPS industry is concerned, organizations pay more attention to the application needs to be run rather than understanding the critical load environments. There are three types of UPS available which can be deployed according to business needs.
Line Interactive UPS: such UPS are meant for small data centers and businesses. In such UPS?the UPS?inverter is continuously connected to the output, which allows the UPS to provide additional filtering. When buying such UPS always look for one with a tap-changing transformer. Such transformers provide voltage regulation by modifying transformer taps in case there is a variation in input voltage. Also look for Line interactive UPS which allow direct flow of AC input to output, in case of inverter failure.

On Line UPS: Also known as Double Conversion Online UPS, these systems are largely meant for mission critical equipment, data centers, etc. Such UPS use double conversion technology to convert AC power to DC power. Here, the primary power source are batteries of the UPS and the utility power is considered as secondary power source. Simply put, the load connected to the on-line UPS always runs on batteries regardless of whether there’s a power failure or not. Due to this, there is zero switchover time when a power failure occurs. Power is directly passed through its inverter and the UPS uses a small part of this power to recharge its batteries and conditions the rest of the power to deliver a nearly ideal output. Another type of online UPS is Delta Conversion On-Line UPS. These are similar to double conversion on-line UPS as they also have inverter as their main power path. Also an added delta converter supplies power to inverter output. Usually, the size of such UPS ranges from 5KVA to 1.6MW. They have a delta converter which controls i/p power and ensures that power is drawn sinusoidally. With i/p power control, such UPS are also compatible with generators.

Fly Wheel UPS: With Green IT being the latest buzzword, Flywheel UPS are in demand. Such UPS are not new but have significantly improved in the past few years and are mostly used by companies as a first line of defense. This is largely because they provide backup for a relatively short term and are mainly used in conjunction with generators. Instead of batteries these systems store kinetic energy which is converted to electricity. Here again different vendors use different technologies but largely power from the grid is used to rotate the flywheel (which is basically a rotor in a low-friction environment). This rotor’s inertia allows it to rotate in case of a power fluctuation and kinetic energy generated through spinning of the rotor is converted to electricity by a small generator inside the UPS. Now the catch is the back up provided is for 15 seconds.

Before you buy a PCE…
Different manufacturers offer UPS equipment for SMBs such as Network Power Switch, Power Distribution Unit, etc. But before buying a PCE, one should consider the following:
SMBs should consider models that give them greater efficiency and help in reducing electrical costs.
Features such as wide voltage window, auto-shutdown software, high level of diagnostics and fault tolerance, user-selectable options, etc are useful.
Sleeker models that help save on real estate costs are a bonus.
Ability to handle different kinds of loads, better backup time, power efficiency of device, compatibility with alternate power sources, battery type, etc are other key considerations.

And within 15 seconds the main generator should get started to ensure that equipment continue to receive power. Another advantage with a flywheel UPS is that it uses less space as compared to a static UPS (which needs more space to keep batteries). Sometimes, flywheel UPS are also used in parallel with batteries to improve lifetime and reliability, by reducing recharge cycles of batteries caused by a shorter power outage.

Conditioning and distribution systems:
Other than UPS, power conditioning and distribution systems are also used to protect equipment from power disturbances. Energy efficient systems and products with less form factor and intelligent monitoring systems are other devices available. Customers today are demanding high efficiency systems which can take care of higher loads and cause lesser loss of power.

Deepak Sharma, Country Business Manager,
Uninterrupted Power Supplies, Delta Energy Systems

What is the importance of power conditioning in the SMB market?
The abysmal power situation catalyzed UPS growth for IT applications in SMB. SMBs typically have small budgets and little or no dedicated IT staff. Hence cost and simplicity are especially important for the power protection solution offered to SMBs. Most SMB companies have reported that the power backup and data restoration are their biggest pain points. Good data availability and secure power backups have become critical because so many SMBs rely on their data to run business efficiently.
What are the current hot trends in power conditioning equipment?
The current trend is towards use of Online UPS as opposed to Line-interactive or Offlines. Preference is given to centralized UPS rather than distributed configurations; customers expect customized solutions rather than standard UPS products being offered. Vendors are expected to integrate UPS with batteries, alternate sources like DG sets and static/automatic transfer switches to provide for complete power protection. Scalable and modular UPS will be more popular in future as it reduces the initial investment for the customer. UPS should be scalable to provision for business growth. Rack-based UPS solutions are a necessity in most IT environments to minimize space requirements. UPS needs to be equipped with network management capabilities for remote management and control. UPS are now expected with larger chargers (Internal or external) and capabilities to manage, diagnose and optimize large banks of batteries. Energy efficiency will be a crucial consideration in all future buys of UPS because of increased awareness amongst customers to opt for Green products.
How do you see the power conditioning market evolve for SMBs?
The future of Indian power market is very bright for next several years. The growth is predominantly coming from the domestic market and its growing middle class, and from the infrastructure boom in India that needs power back-up, power storage and power conditioning.
Indian power market will continue to enjoy a double digit growth for next several years. Different segments have different growth rates. However, if we were to estimate an average growth rate of Indian power conversion, power conditioning and power supplies market then the growth rate is still very strong at 29% in 2009 as compared to 2008.
The future power supply technologies will need to bring further improvements in power conversion efficiencies and power densities in a cost-effective manner. The focus will be on the improvement of characteristics of semiconductor and magnetic materials, components, development of advanced packaging and thermal management techniques.

What are the key things which SMBs should consider while selecting the UPS systems?

l Know the criticality level and backup requirements, this will help to know if the requirement is for a stand alone, hot—swappable or power paralleling configuration.
l Know the criticality level to determine they need for independent battery backups.
l UPS should take less space. It should be easy to install and should be have remote management capability so that it can be remotely controlled through a PC.
l Module and system level redundancy guarantees very high reliability & availability––indispensable for any mission critical application.
l Scalable & Modular UPS with energy efficiency & lower cost of ownership will reduce both capex and opex.

Gaurav Burman
Director, Transaction Business, APC
What are the current trends in the power conditioning equipment across consumer segments?

The abysmal power situation catalyzed by UPS growth for IT applications in SMB. SMBs typically have small budgets and little or no IT staff. Hence cost and simplicity are especially important for the power protection solution offered to an SMB. Most SMB companies have reported that power backups and data restoration are their biggest pain points. Good data availability and secure power backups have become critical because many SMBs rely on their data to run their business es efficiently.

How do you see the power conditioning market evolve?

SMBs today have realized the strategic importance of power continuity. The growth of the power conditioning market can be mainly attributed to the rapid growth of the SMB and SOHO segments and the increased need for maintaining business continuity and uptime. The SOHO and SMB segments have been the largest drivers of growth in the industry for quite some time. This trend continues. As technology adoption among players in this sector has risen, their need for backup power has also increased. The growth of these two segments has led to the evolution of their business requirements resulting in the need for IT and power conditioning solutions. Consider these statistics that demonstrate the growth opportunity in the SMB segment:
l Need for IT solutions is huge in the SMB category.
l Power consumption of Industrial and Commercial segments put together is about 43% (according to the Central Electricity Authority).
l Power demand in this segment is growing at an average of 10% every year (CEA).
l Peak power deficit is 17% (CEA).

Nationwide average for power cuts in a day is approximately 1-2 hrs.
What will be APC’s focus in the near future?

For SMBs, time equals money and business continuity is important. The power situation in the country is still grim and we are unable to meet the growing demand across sectors (Peak power deficit is 17%). Even if one looks beyond the large datacenters, just the SMB sector alone offers tremendous opportunities to us and our channel partners for new businesses.
With the increasing sophistication and dependence on IT for business continuity and growth, most SMBs today are looking at pay-as-you-grow scalable models, solutions with optimised TCO and sleeker, denser and rack mountable options that’ll help reduce real estate costs These will be our focus areas.
We see a lot of opportunity in the SMB segment as the need for IT solutions in this category is growing. The power consumption of industrial and commercial segments is about 43 percent and the power demand in this segment is growing at an average of 10 percent. Even today, nationwide power-cut average is close to 2 hrs which directly hits the business efficiency of SMBs, and they are now demanding greater reliability, flexibility, scalability and fault-tolerance from their power-conditioning solutions.

“Three pre-requisites while selecting a UPS system are: excellent service support, a high quality product with maximum reliability and energy efficiency, and lowest total cost of ownership.” – Ankesh Kumar, Sr Manager-Channel Sales,

Emerson Networks

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