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How data centers can effectively manage power surges

A surge protection device can protect critical hardware in the data center.

Machines are made up of a number of sensitive components. One power surge can reduce the life span of your IT hardware and any other electronics that are plugged into the wall. For data centers, which rely on the optimal performance of equipment, a power surge can cripple operations. It may cost a significant amount of money to recover from any amount of downtime or hardware damage resulting from a surge. Data center operators must understand how to effectively manage power surges to mitigate device deterioration and maximize productivity.

It can happen to anyone

You might think that a power surge or outage might never happen to you, but these events are unpredictable and can stem from a number of uncontrollable circumstances. In 2013, the U.S. National Security Agency data center that was being built in Utah was crippled by a series of power surges. According to The Register, 10 meltdowns occurred within 13 months, causing the organization to halt its IT deployment and delay the facility's opening by a full year. It took investigators six months to discover the causes of two of the events, not to mention 160 tests and 50,000 man-hours without reaching a consensus on the other issues and how to prevent them.

Power surges from lightning and local power issues can happen to anyone.Power surges from lightning and local power issues can happen to anyone.

Lightning strikes, local electrical problems and events within your own facility are the most prevalent causes of power surges. As electrical systems and IT infrastructure become more complex, it will be critical to understand how these situations occur and how to prevent issues from emerging. While you might not be able to avoid some power surges, you can take steps to protect your devices and your facility from any damage.

"Proactive maintenance will help quickly adjust power needs."

Put protection in place

Power surges are a major threat to data center operations, and it's your responsibility to take preventive action. Data center monitoring tools have evolved over the years to provide better visibility into power consumption across the facility. As TechTarget contributor Richard Jones noted, this solution can track the load of each circuit and forecast power requirements. Insight on this level will help plan accordingly to virtualize underperforming assets, decommission older hardware and grow to scale. Monitoring all points in the power distribution path can be the difference between managing a power surge and becoming crippled by one.

Real-time monitoring tools can also promote proactive energy management for holistic energy optimization. Data Center Journal contributor Jeffrey S. Klaus suggested using tracking solutions to identify hot spots before they reach critical levels to ensure server performance and end-user services. Using this data, operators can reduce energy waste by 20 to 40 percent. Proactive maintenance will help adjust power needs and verify that critical hardware components are working effectively.

Gain peace of mind with surge suppression

Monitoring tools are a significant step toward managing power surges, but they are not guaranteed to catch everything. Implementing surge suppression within the data center will help ensure that equipment functions aren't harmed, and that any surges are effectively diffused. With a suppressor, hardware components won't be fried and outages can be prevented. Operators can rest easy knowing that their critical functions will remain online in the event of a power surge.

Outages and power surges can plague any data center. It's essential for facility decision-makers to not only realize that these events affect them, but that they can also take steps to mitigate potential damage and downtime. A surge suppression solution is the clear answer to avoiding power malfunctions and minimizing hardware deterioration. Contact Energy Control Systems to learn more about how surge suppression would be a great addition to your data center infrastructure.

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