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Power Loss Mitigation Strategies

This response will discuss mitigation strategies to enable business continuity in the event of a power outage in a small office.

Strategies investigated include the installation of a standby generator, increased Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) capacity, off-site replication of business critical data, telecommunications redundancy and off-site storage of systems backups.

It is estimated that three out of five businesses that experience downtime of 48 hours or more will be out of business within 3 years. Creating a technology risk mitigation and data protection plan requires people, process and technology in the right recipe to be successful.

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Executive Summary
This paper will discuss mitigation strategies to enable business continuity in the event of a power outage in a small office.

Strategies investigated include the installation of a standby generator, increased Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) capacity, off-site replication of business critical data, telecommunications redundancy and off-site storage of systems backups.

It is estimated that three out of five businesses that experience downtime of 48 hours or more will be out of business within 3 years. Creating a technology risk mitigation and data protection plan requires people, process and technology in the right recipe to be successful.
Introduction
A temporary loss of power is at best a nuisance for any business - at worst it could spell disaster. There are a number of mitigation strategies available ranging from off-site data storage to full hot-site data replication.

There are innumerable situations that can interrupt power delivery - weather, accidents, an overloaded power grid or other calamity - each of which has the potential to cripple businesses that are dependent on technology.

The following strategies have been investigated:

? Installation of a standby generator
? Increased Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) capacity
? Off-site replication of business critical data
? Telecommunications redundancy
? Off-site storage of systems backups.

Each of these will be explored in this paper and the strengths and weaknesses of each will be discussed.
Power Disturbances and IT Equipment
Power disturbances can have severe repercussions for business computer systems - particularly server systems. The problem is especially difficult in locations where outages and power fluctuations occur frequently. According to Carl Walker, a project Manager for Eaton Electrical, "public utilities are not required to provide computer-grade power - and they don't. IT equipment is damaged by subtle anomalies that users never see, such as sags, surges, spikes, brownouts, line noise, frequency variation, switching transients and harmonic distortion."

While Mr. Walker may appear to be over-emphasizing the horrors of public utility power, he makes a good point -the power company cannot be counted on to supply consistent, clean power to computer equipment 100% of the time - we need to take what the power company provides and modify it for our own use.

Another consideration is that a loss of power will also affect the environmental controls of the computer room. A small room housing several servers can very quickly overheat which can have a much greater affect on the life of the hardware that the power loss itself. Any solution will need to include a method for dissipating the heat generated by the equipment.
Uninterruptible Power Supply
An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a device which maintains a continuous supply of electric power to connected equipment by supplying power from a separate source - typically a battery - when utility power is not available. A UPS is inserted between the source of power (commercial utility power) and the load it is protecting. When a power failure or abnormality occurs, the UPS will effectively switch from utility power to its own power source almost instantaneously.

UPS devices are available in different configurations and capacities. Most are sized to provide enough runtime for IT systems to shut down gracefully in the event of a power outage or to compensate for the time it takes for a backup generator to start up and begin supplying line power. Also, most contain power conditioning circuitry that provides a constant output voltage when the supply voltage spikes or sags.

UPS can be configured for extended runtime if necessary due to environmental issues that prevent the installation of a generator.
Standby Generators
A standby generator is another way for a business to mitigate a power loss to a data center. Most simply, a generator is a fuel burning motor (Diesel, propane, natural gas or a combination of the above) coupled to a generator head that turns the motor's rotation into electricity. Standby generators are installed permanently as an emergency power source. They are hardwired into the building's electrical system and often get fuel from municipal gas or propane lines.

A generator is measured in terms of the power (Watts) and Volts it delivers. Wattage is analogous to the volume delivered while voltage corresponds to the pressure with which that volume is delivered.

Buyerzone.com provides the following explanation:

Voltage

In the U.S., standard household current is single phase, 120 volts. Most houses have 120/240v service, meaning they have two 120v circuits. The two are combined to provide 240v for power-hungry appliances such as electric ranges, central air ...

Solution Summary

10 page paper discussing potential power loss mitigations strategies.

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