If you don’t test your back-up power, don’t expect it to work!

If you don’t test your back-up power, don’t expect it to work!

Last week we again conducted a black building test. This time including the power expansion which will be active soon. We always have full confidence in our black building test, but it’s good to test this regularly. After a series of power outages at various data centers, we ensure there is a power supply when you really need it.

If the power goes out for a short or long time, that is of course annoying if your favorite TV show was just on TV. But if a power outage means that your critical IT infrastructure no longer works, there are far-reaching consequences for your company. How is a power outage picked up by Datacenter.com.

For companies, organizations and governments, reliable power supply is one of the most important reasons for placing their IT equipment in a data center. Recent high-profile data center failures brought the issue of reliability to the fore. Historically, data center power cuts have been experienced by many blue-chip banks and telecoms providers, so no-one can claim immunity from such problems.

To guarantee the reliability of that power supply, we test our emergency power supply on a monthly basis. During such a test, we activate the generators to ensure the redundant power supply path works appropriately. By setting up a switch that starts our redundant set of emergency power supply, synchronizes with the mains, and delivering power to the IT equipment. During regular generator tests, the generator is putted next to the grid so the equipment that is not behind UPS remains switched on. This means that the cooling system and the lighting will continue to work during such a test.

During regular testing, the redundant power supply is activated manually and a part of the emergency power procedure is not tested. That is why we have chosen to carry out so-called ‘black-building tests’. We instruct our operator to completely switch off the power supply to our data center. The generators are then not switched on and the ‘no-break’ equipment such as the cooling system is therefore switched off. Within less than a minute, the emergency generators start up automatically and all installations have power again.

Impression of our generators during the black building test (total 5.5 MW or power).

You may assume that each data center has procedures to test their installations. You cannot blindly rely on a test button installed on an emergency power system. You would be well advised to ask when the last time the data center performed a black building test. After all, it’s about your critical IT environment.

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