A major topic of discussion this year has been around the topic of digital strategy. The development of IT infrastructure has culminated in businesses being expected to uphold a comprehensive digital strategy. However, this drives a pressing need for an electrical power supply that is continuous and reliable.
It isn’t unusual to be constantly barraged with IT buzzwords like big data and cloud computing, concepts that they are told offer a wealth of benefits if adopted. These trends, in addition to a shifting business landscape through globalisation and outsourcing, have made it necessary for facilities managers to invest in the right infrastructure to support digitisation.
However, beyond the software and hardware, facilities managers often overlook the power being supplied to IT systems. While it’s important that businesses choose the right IT system, so too is ensuring that these systems continue to operate in the event of a power failure or an emergency.
For example, there was an incident in 2015 where one of Google’s data centres experienced a power failure. This down time was a result of transient voltages caused by lightning striking the local power grid in Belgium. Unfortunately, several disks worth of data remained inaccessible after the incident.
This highlights the need for two things: first, facilities managers should ensure that power equipment is protected against lightning strikes and, secondly, that a building’s power supply is connected to an effective changeover system that can keep systems running in the case of an emergency. If a company the size of Google can fall foul of power failure on such a scale, so too can smaller businesses.
How can facilities managers keep IT systems operational? An important step is to invest in a changeover system that meets the needs of the application. These are designed to facilitate a power supply shift from mains electricity to a backup generator with minimal disruption to service, so they come with a multitude of configurations available.
For example, ide Systems was recently approached by a large London-based business to design a 400A manual changeover panel to ensure reliable power to the building’s IT systems. To maximise its effectiveness, our engineers designed the panel with a lightning protection unit and, interestingly, a multifunctional power meter that included text message functionality.
A powerful feature for remote monitoring, the text functionality offers an additional level of reliability to the system. The power meter’s text message facility works on the incoming mains supply so that, in the event of a mains failure, facilities managers receive a text instructing them to switch the supply over. This gives peace of mind that important IT systems will not lose power.
Innovations such as this can only be designed into electrical equipment if facilities managers give due consideration to emergency systems. While it is easy to think of IT systems as the sole responsibility of IT managers and technicians, facilities managers have a key role in ensuring the ongoing power required to sustain an effective digital business strategy.
Words by Matt Collins, business development manager at ide Systems
ide Systems is an integrated electrical engineering company and a recognised name in the design and manufacture of permanent and temporary power distribution equipment for events and onsite backup power. The company is committed to the quality electrical engineering of both core and bespoke products, distributed across the whole of the UK and Europe for sales and hire.