SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Schneider Electric Extends PowerChute Network Shutdown Software

Energy management specialist Schneider Electric announced the release of PowerChute Network Shutdown v4.0,Schneider Electric Logo which includes advanced redundancy capabilities and a new Uninterruptible Power Supply configuration option.

The UPS configuration option enables IT personnel to manage and monitor multiple groups of redundant UPSs and add increased redundancy for IT equipment when necessary.

“Due to the growing trend of virtualization, IT architectures have evolved into increasingly complex systems, with many IT managers struggling with how to not only manage but protect their multiple servers across varying locations,” said Paul Bohan, vice president, network management, IT business, Schneider Electric. “PowerChute Network Shutdown v4.0’s seamless integration, migration and shutdown capabilities give IT managers the peace of mind that their entire virtualized and physical IT infrastructure is protected from potential power events or outages – no matter their location.”

The software provides IT managers with control of movement of virtual machines and can be integrated with VMware vCenter and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager.

PowerChute Network Shutdown v4.0 is available for download here.

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Part II: Effective Ways of Protecting against Power Disturbances in Server Rooms

michaelmaielloBy Michael Maiello

In my previous post, I described six types of power disturbances that can trip up your customers’ IT systems. Equipment failure, downtime and software and data corruption can be traced back to a problematic supply of power. In this post, I’ll describe some ways to protect against these power disturbances in server rooms.

1. Transients

When protecting equipment against impulsive transients in the server room, the most valuable method is the use of surge suppression devices, otherwise known as transient voltage surge suppressors (TVSS) or surge protective devices (SPD).

SPDs have been used for many years in small businesses and homes. An SPD device is installed at the energy source and sized to dissipate energy from incoming transients. Subsequent devices are installed at the electrical sub-panel and at the sensitive equipment itself, clamping the voltage to a level that doesn't damage or disturb the equipment.

2. Interruption

To help protect equipment against interruptions, the first step taken should be to eliminate or reduce the likelihood of potential problems via good design and maintenance. The second is to install UPS devices and motor generators, and to take advantage of redundant systems and energy storage. When the power goes out, these alternative forms of power can take over, preventing long-term equipment damage.

3. Sag or Undervoltage

While adding a dedicated circuit for large startup loads is the most effective solution it may not always be practical or cost-effective. Other solutions include alternative power starting sources, which do not load the rest of the electric infrastructure at motor start-up, and a power conditioning device for regulating power such as a line conditioner or UPS.

4. Swell or Overvoltage

Power line conditioners and UPS systems are common solutions for swells. Similar to sags, swells may not be apparent until their results are seen; UPS and/or power conditioning devices that also monitor and log incoming power events will help to measure when, and how often, these events occur.

Overvoltage, which is just a constant swell, can also be remedied with UPS or conditioning equipment. However, the utility power to a facility may need correction as well if the incoming power is constantly in an overvoltage condition.

5. Waveform distortion

For direct current offset, the solution is replacing faulty equipment that is the source of the problem.

Protecting server rooms against harmonic distortion has been made easier over the last decade due to changing technologies and upgraded power supply design. New IT equipment power supplies are designed with power-factor corrected power supplies operating as linear, non-harmonic loads. These power supplies do not produce the waste current of harmonics.

Solutions to interharmonics include filters, UPS systems, and line conditioners.

By moving the load away from the equipment causing the problem, servers can be protected against the harmful effects of notching. If equipment cannot be relocated, UPS devices and filter equipment are also viable solutions.

There are several approaches to controlling noise, which can be combined to achieve the required result. These include:

  • Isolate the load via a UPS
  • Install a grounded, shielded isolation transformer
  • Relocate the load away from the interference source
  • Install noise filters
  • Cable shielding

6. Voltage fluctuations

To resolve voltage fluctuations, removing the offending load, relocating the sensitive equipment, or installing power line conditioning or UPS devices are all possible methods.

It’s important to identify power disturbances and then take the necessary steps to protect servers – not only can it prevent costly downtime, but it will also save businesses from having to replace costly damaged equipment.

Michael Maiello is Senior Vice President, Home and Business Networks for Schneider Electric and has served in this role since 2012.

Michael has been with APC and Schneider Electric for over 20 years. In that time he has held various positions in engineering, engineering management and general management. Prior to being named Senior Vice President of Home and Business Networks, Michael served as Vice President for the Business Power Solutions group and Director of OEM and Special Products. Over the last five years, Michael has lead the Business Power Solutions team, which focuses on single phase power products for the availability of business applications and includes world known brands, such as Smart-UPS® and Symmetra®.

Michael holds both Masters and Bachelor Degrees in Electrical Engineering from Brown University.

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Part I: Six Types of Power Disturbances That Can Trip Up Your Customers’ IT Systems

michaelmaielloBy Michael Maiello

Today’s technologically pervasive world demands power that is free from disturbance. Yet, despite the growth of smart grids and more sophisticated technology, power problems can still plague businesses. Just consider what an outage of a day or two would cost your customers; even an hour can take a significant toll for some businesses.

Still, many service providers don’t completely understand all the various types of power disturbances that can threaten customers’ server rooms. While protecting against major events like hurricanes and floods is certainly important, there are many other, far more subtle ways in which power disturbances can wreak havoc on a business. Here are six of them:

1. Transients

Potentially the most damaging of all disturbances, transients fall into two subcategories: impulsive and oscillatory. Impulsive transients are the most common type of power surge or spike. These types of events can be categorized further by the speed at which they occur (fast, medium, and slow), ranging from very fast events measuring 5 nanoseconds (ns) rise time from steady state to peak, or short-term measuring less than 50 ns. Impulsive transients are caused by events like lightning, switching of inductive loads, utility fault clearing, and like issues – and often result in corrupt data and damaged equipment.

Oscillatory transients is a sudden change in the steady-state of a signal’s voltage or current (or both) at both the positive and negative signal limits – in other words, the power signal swells and shrinks rapidly. These transients often happen when a load, such as a motor or capacitor, is suddenly turned off. When oscillatory transients appear, they can be quite disruptive to electronic equipment.

2. Interruption

An interruption is the complete loss of supply voltage or load current, with the following duration ranges:

  • Instantaneous: .5 to 30 cycles
  • Momentary: 30 cycles to 2 seconds
  • Temporary: 2 seconds to 2 minutes
  • Sustained: more than 2 minutes (sustained).

The causes of interruptions can vary, but are usually the result of some type of electrical supply grid damage, such as lightning strikes, animals, trees, vehicle accidents, destructive weather, equipment failure, or a basic circuit breaker tripping. While the utility infrastructure is designed to automatically compensate for many of these problems, it is not infallible. One common example of an interruption is when all electronic devices and lights go out in a house for a short period of time and then comes back in a few minutes. While this interruption is inconvenient in a home, a similar power loss in a business setting can be costly, as data can become corrupt or be lost entirely during the interruption.

3. Sag or Undervoltage

Usually caused by system faults or the switching on of loads with heavy startup currents, a sag is a reduction of AC voltage at a given frequency lasting for .5 cycles to a minute. This is akin to the drop in water pressure when multiple faucets in a single home are turned on. Sags can cause significant equipment damage over time.

Often referred to as a “brownout” (albeit incorrectly so), undervoltages are the results of long-term power consistency problems that create sags in the short term. Undervoltages can lead to the failure of non-linear loads such as computer power supplies.

4. Swell or Overvoltage

The opposite of a sag is a swell, caused by an increase in AC voltage lasting .5 cycles to one minute. Like sags, the damaging effects of swells – which include degradation of electrical contacts and semiconductor damage – usually go unnoticed for extended periods of time. However, immediate, more noticeable results are the flickering of lights and data errors.

Similar to undervoltages, overvoltages are the result of long term problems that create temporary power swells. Overvoltage conditions can create high current draw and cause equipment to overheat and become stressed.

5. Waveform distortion

A waveform distortion is any power quality variation affecting the wave shape of the voltage or current. There are five primary types of waveform distortion: direct current offset, harmonic distortion, interharmonics, notching and noise. To varying degrees, they can all cause damage or disruption to IT equipment.

6. Voltage fluctuations

A voltage fluctuation is a series of small, random changes in voltage caused by any load exhibiting significant current variations. A common symptom is the flickering of incandescent lamps.

Of course there are ways to protect against each of these types of power disturbances, often by using UPS systems, backup generators, surge protectors, power line conditioners conditioning, proper grounding and more. In my next blog post, I’ll explore some ways you can help customers protect against these common power disturbances.

Michael Maiello is Senior Vice President, Home and Business Networks for Schneider Electric and has served in this role since 2012.

Michael has been with APC and Schneider Electric for over 20 years. In that time he has held various positions in engineering, engineering management and general management. Prior to being named Senior Vice President of Home and Business Networks, Michael served as Vice President for the Business Power Solutions group and Director of OEM and Special Products. Over the last five years, Michael has lead the Business Power Solutions team, which focuses on single phase power products for the availability of business applications and includes world known brands, such as Smart-UPS® and Symmetra®.

Michael holds both Masters and Bachelor Degrees in Electrical Engineering from Brown University.

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How the Channel Can Help Solve the Most Pressing SMB Challenges

Lord Gordon bioBy Gordon Lord, Director of Distribution and Channel Marketing, Schneider Electric IT

Small businesses are often expected to have similar capabilities as larger companies, but with far fewer resources at their disposal. While all IT managers have their unique set of challenges, small-to-medium sized business (SMB) IT organizations frequently face a distinct set of difficulties, such as limited space, small staffs and limited budgets.

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Top Four Ways to Optimize and Manage Remote IT Sites

Paul AyersBy Paul Ayers, Offer Manager, Networking Solutions,  Schneider Electric

If you’re centrally managing your customers’ data centers and server rooms, it’s increasingly likely that you’re responsible for more than one site. In many cases, it may be more like 5, 50 or even 500 sites being managed centrally without dedicated IT staff at each one.

In these cases, technology must do most of the heavy lifting. Here are four tested ways that can help you to manage your customers’ sites more effectively with a centralized IT management model.

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Schneider Electric Deploys MaintenanceNet’s Auto Quote Solution to Improve, Streamline Warranty Extensions

MaintenanceNet logoMaintenanceNet said today that Schneider Electric has deployed MaintenanceNet’s Service360 Auto Quote solution to improve and streamline the way it tracks, manages and transacts warranty extensions for end customers of their AC and DC-based back-up power products in conjunction with channel partners across North America. Through Service360, Schneider Electric is also gaining new capabilities to build self-service and partner enablement into the sales cycle to further expand business opportunities while enhancing the customer experience.

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Guest Blog: Why Protecting the Network Edge is Crucial for SMBs Using Cloud, Co-Location

Michael MaielloBy Michael Maiello, Senior Vice President, Home and Business Networks, Schneider Electric

In today’s fast-paced and digitally-dependent world, companies are always looking to reduce IT operating expenses while also keeping their networks at 100 percent availability. To meet this growing demand for high availability at low cost, IT departments are increasingly turning to cloud applications and co-location strategies for physical IT infrastructure. In fact, Gartner recently forecast an 18.5 percent growth rate for public global cloud services in 2013, worth $131 billion worldwide, with companies poised to spend $677 billion on cloud services worldwide through 2016.*

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Schneider Electric’s EcoBreeze Provides Cooling Solution at Canadian Cloud Services Facility

Schneider Electric, has installed its EcoBreeze modular, indirect evaporative cooling solution at a new colocation and cloud services facility in Barrie, Canada. The facility is operated by Cogeco Data Services, an ICT provider that provides data center, managed IT, cloud and connectivity services to some of Canada's largest companies and public sector organizations.

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Schneider Electric’s StruxureWare Enables Holistic Data Center Infrastructure Management

Schneider Electric today introduced StruxureWare for Data Centers v2.0, an integrated suite of Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software engineered to manage data centers across multiple domains, providing businesses with actionable intelligence for an ideal balance of high availability and peak efficiency throughout the entire data center lifecycle.

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Oops…My Bad! 5 Blogs We Missed Last Week

Here we go again! As I do each week, I am really enjoying bringing our readers a quick round-up of the blog coverage I didn’t manage to get to during the week prior. Note that this week’s “5 we missed” is coming to you a couple of days later than usual due to the New Year holiday. SMB Nation’s offices were closed this past Monday and Tuesday, and yours truly has been (for the most part) off the grid since the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 21.

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