Data centre masters

The ongoing rise of the data centre across the Middle East means more power to the channel. Piers Ford writes.

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Data centre masters
By  Piers Ford Published  October 11, 2011

The ongoing rise of the data centre across the Middle East means more power to the channel. Piers Ford writes.

As businesses look to consolidate their data repositories in environments appropriate to their scope and size, they require increasingly sophisticated and intuitive methods to manage those infrastructures with greater efficiency, particularly when it comes to power consumption and cooling.

Consequently, the demand for skilled suppliers who understand the extent to which the right combination of cooling products, UPS technology and power distribution units can benefit the organisation in terms of system availability, resilience and economy is at an all-time high. And infrastructure vendors are looking to the channel to deliver these benefits for their customers.

“Some VARs and systems integrators have especially trained themselves and their technical teams to be totally updated with the latest technologies around data centre deployment,” says Kamlesh Kumar Amesur, sales and marketing director MENA at UPS specialist Opti-UPS.

“These partners are highly influential in guiding the contractor or end-user to choose the most optimised solutions depending on their applications, business criticality, space constraints, budget availability and other important factors.” Basil Ayass, enterprise product manager at Dell Middle East, says it is very easy for the channel to simply build a data centre for a customer in the region. But it’s far more difficult to set up an efficient, right-sized data centre, leveraging the best practices in energy and space efficiency.

“Choosing the right channel partner with certified resources is paramount to ensuring that a data centre project is a success,” he says.

And that’s the biggest challenge for the channel. The UAE leads the way in data centre growth, but other areas in the region are playing catch-up, and resellers and SIs are chasing technology skill sets that, while they are developing rapidly, are still relatively thin on the ground.

So a skills shortage combined with the rapid evolution of power management and cooling technologies means resellers have quite a mountain to climb. The days are long gone when it was simply a matter of selling a commodity UPS into a project, almost as an afterthought.

Vendors have embarked on an aggressive educational push to address this shortage amongst existing and potential channel partners. Power protection specialist Tripp Lite, for example, combines regular training for its certified Critical Application Partners with an online portal offering self-study courses. Dell’s partners engage in annual education schemes to maintain their certification. As well as training partners on its own technology, Chatsworth Products International (CPI) runs programmes approved by industry standards organisations such as BICSI and AIA, designed to present a holistic view on thermal and power considerations.

A quick look at some recent innovations makes the urgency of these schemes and programmes abundantly clear. CPI has recently pioneered its passive cooling technology, which claims to save up to 40% on data centre energy costs and 90% on cooling costs, according to regional sales manager Sundeep Raina.

“We have also joined forces with some industry leaders like Cisco and Juniper, creating innovative and unique solutions that address thermal challenges posed by equipment that exhausts hot air side-to-side and not front-to-back,” says Raina.

“Our total solution does not stop there. CPI continues to assess the market and listen to the wants and needs of its customers, which allows us to offer customised solutions to solve their problems. These solutions vary from the smallest change of a specified product colour to the more creative solution of aisle containment incorporating two-post racks and cable management.

“We believe that each data centre is different and comes with unique challenges. We like to study each case and propose optimised solutions that fit the situation. If that means that we would need to customise, we do. It could be a simple installation of vertical exhaust duct cabinets or a hybrid solution deploying hot and cold air segregation with some aisle containment utilising non-contained or open cabinets.”

At Tripp Lite, vice president Middle East and Africa, Vipin Sharma, says modular and green UPS systems offering high efficiency and remote management accessibility, and intelligent power distribution units are the order of the day.

“All these products incorporate technologies that increase efficiency in power management and we believe this is a key unique selling point,” he says.

And at Opti-UPS, Kamlesh Kumar Amesur claims ownership of the world’s “most scalable” UPS system, together with a range of 3phase UPS systems that also offer higher efficiency, low power consumption and adapted green technologies.

All of which goes to show that the humble UPS has a significant new lease of life in the data centre. Amesur says there is no room for doubt. The industry is focusing on eliminating liability rather than just reducing it. UPS systems must be designed with highest levels of available power modules, be scalable, hot-pluggable, hot-swappable, expandable, have the lowest mean time between removals and minimum levels of heat signatures and space density.

“Power blackouts, brownouts and dropouts can cause major malfunctions and interruptions in equipment and IT systems, costing thousands of dollars in lost business and data,” says Tripp Lite’s Sharma.

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