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Modular UPS offers ’pay as you grow’ approach

When hosting company Sleek Networks created a new Tier III data centre last year Leeds, it based critical power protection on an advanced modular system which offers flexible system expansion, in incremental steps.

Modular UPS offers ’pay as you grow’ approach

Nick Williams, co-founder and director of Sleek Networks, takes up the story: "The modular solution we chose saved us having to spend a large amount of capital on power protection on day one and yet gave us the high availability our customers demand.

"We also deliver our service using advanced server hardware and that requires a clean and stable power supply. The product our chosen supplier recommended utilises inbuilt filters and rectifier technology to ‘condition’ the current and deliver a stable output. Crucially, however, it is also truly modular, giving us the flexibility to increase capacity and grow the system in-line with our changing requirements. We looked at other solutions but didn’t find any as suitable as this."

Initially, Sleek Networks bought a cabinet and installed one 50kVA module, which, a short time later, was increased to 100kVA by slotting another 50kVA module into the cabinet. The company is now just about to increase its protection to 150kVA, with another 50kVA module - and within 18 months will install a second cabinet, taking potential capacity to 500kVA.

True modular technology offers a 'pay as you grow' approach to system expansion - ideal for users where growth may be fast but future requirements are unpredictable. It consists of a single 'server style' rack cabinet in which one to five UPS modules (ranging in size from 10-50kVA) can be slotted to offer a maximum of 250kVA per cabinet. Each module is ‘hot-swappable’, which means it can be isolated, taken out and replaced should it develop a fault or require routine maintenance – a feature that substantially reduces meantime to repair (MTTR).

Decentralised Parallel Architecture

Parallel UPS, whose modules share no common components, are described as having Decentralised Parallel Architecture (DPA), as opposed to Centralised Parallel Architecture (CPA). The system installed by Sleek Networks fully utilises the benefits of DPA technology, which offers high availability (up to six nines - 99.9999%) as there are effectively no single-points-of-failure. In installations as critical as this, it is almost always the preferred choice.

"We have incorporated redundancy into everything – air-conditioning, security, and UPS – we even have two data connections from different telcos," said Williams. "Our new custom-built, facility in Leeds already has a excellent number of customers using our hosting services. The site was deployed on time and on budget and built within six months. We have used the latest technologies such as PowerWAVE 9000DPA and Stulz N+1 Environmental Air-cooling alongside a Rack 'Cold-Aisle Containment' system.

The new UPS system has already been called upon, when, in December 2009, much of Leeds was rendered powerless by a 25-minute utility power cut. "Downtime for that length of time would have destroyed us," said Williams. "The UPSL system kicked in straight away and within ten minutes standby power had been transitioned seamlessly to our onsite – none of our customers was ever aware that there had been a power cut."

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