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Plan Your UPS

With today's complex and growing networks, Network Managers cannot simply buy UPS ... they must configure protection. And for many, that means going back to square one to analyse just what their network means to the enterprise and what levels of protection it requires. Building a cost-effective UPS plan requires far more than simply totaling the wattage of the equipment to be protected. Every network has its own unique power needs. A UPS that works well for a few PC's is probably not the right choice for an industrial application. And the enterprise network with hundreds of nodes needs different protection than an inbound tele-marketing center. There are four basic steps in any network protection plan, and a number of factors that need to be considered within each step. 

Step One: Analysis
The simplest way to analyse network protection is to ask, "What happens to the enterprise if the network goes down?" Answers to that question will lead to specific conclusions about the levels of protection needed. These are also specific issues that should be reviewed in detail. These include:

UPS Technology and Criticality

UPS systems range from inexpensive off-line to full-featured on-line systems. For mission-critical uses, on-line is the preferred choice. But protecting servers is not the end of the job. Hubs, routers, workstations, - PC's and peripherals need protection as well. Even if their use is not mission-critical, an unexpected failure could trigger a domino effect that brings down the network. Using less expensive line-interactive UPS to protect some network nodes can be an economical alternative, providing not only outage protection, but also greater resistance to brownout conditions. 

Load size Today? Tomorrow? 
Many networks change dramatically over a single year. Figure power protection requirements as far into the future as possible, and where possible identify how power use can be clustered onto larger, more full-featured UPS. You may be able to reduce your total cost per VA, and at the sometime reduce the need for expensive re-configurations in the future.

Battery Time

If you need enough time for network hardware to be safely shut down, five minutes may be adequate. If you need to ride through almost all outages, or if you require complete continuity of operation, extended battery time - even back-up generators - must be a part of the plan. And, since today's ordinary system may become tomorrow's mission- critical application, you may want to consider a UPS that allows battery time upgrades.

UPS Control, Monitoring And Communications 
UPS that is communications-ready can become an active part of the network under the direction of your network management software. The capabilities range from software that allows safe shutdown of unattended workstations, all the way to interactive SNMP communication and control that makes the UPS an intelligent part of the network. 

Risks Other Than Power
Some systems, especially those that are, mission-critical, may also need protection from heat, humidity, dust and tampering. Ordinary office space does not afford this protection, especially if the air conditioning is off during the night or over the weekend. If these are concerns, consider a full-featured, portable enclosure.

Step Two: Configuration
Pencil and paper work well here. The goal is to configure cost-effective power protection onto your network as it exists today ... then extends that design into the future. If you can develop even a rough picture of your network's future, chances are good that you can make effective use of every UPS regardless of network shape or size. A lack of planning, however, could condemn you to a series of costly investments that are no longer useful or cost effective as your network grows. When charting the network and configuring protection, take into account criticality, communications, growth and any special needs. To keep start-up costs to a minimum, you can also begin by protecting only the server, and expand both the scope and sophistication of your protection overtime.

Step Three: lnstallation, Training, Maintaining 
Once the configuration plan is complete and you are ready to implement the plan, acquire and install the power protection hardware. But remember ... there is no such thing as "set and forget" power protection. You need to train network users on the monitoring, alarm, shutdown and restart protocols of the network power protection. And to work effectively over time, UPS must be maintained properly. This is especially true in areas where the system switches to battery power frequently due to recurring outages or over-voltages. Batteries can lose capacity fast under these conditions, and when the power really does go down, you may not have time for a safe network shutdown.

Step Four: Review
Plans change. Networks grow in new directions. What was an inconvenience today may become mission-critical tomorrow. Make sure your power protection plan keeps up with your network-computing plan. It's cheaper & safer.

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