What is our primary use case?
The units we have are for our data center. We have a data center that needs to be up 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The three Eaton units make up half of our two-end power structure.
It's pretty straightforward that these are battery backups. The job of these units is that if we have a power outage, they carry the full load of all of our IT equipment until the generator kicks in.
How has it helped my organization?
In our organization, we have not only IT equipment in the data center, but we also talk to equipment throughout the world. We are one of the largest research institutions in our field in the world. We have pieces of equipment all over the world that actually call and talk to equipment in our data center. If we have downtime, there is the potential to lose very expensive assets that are in the field. We really have to be able to trust in the products that we select for this environment. It's one thing if people can't work for a couple of hours. That's terrible and there's a huge monetary value attached to it. But it's another thing if you lose $10 million in equipment, gear, and assets.
Our data center has been up for as long as I've been in charge of it. We haven't had any downtime in eight years. That's the best. A lot of that is the the people that own these units. By way of analogy, a Toyota is very reliable as long as you take it for oil changes. You stop taking your car for oil changes, things are going to die. There's no perfect product out there, but if you stay with the manufacturer recommendations for stuff and the schedules for maintenance, they're going to last forever.
The solution's heat dissipation capabilities allow it to be located near equipment racks without concern about hotspots. It's a square-footage thing. If you can put them in row, then you don't have to build a separate room for stuff and that separate room can be used for a person, storage, anything.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable feature is the redundancy built into them. They work. Especially in today's climate, if your data center goes down, a lot of people come knocking at your door because they can't be productive and can't do their jobs. The best endorsement that I can give these things is they've never gone down.
It's also very important that the solution is a three-phase UPS. Three-phase cuts down on power usage, which cuts down on our electrical bill, compared to a single-phase product.
The footprint is standard, the same thing as every other solution that we could have gotten. But the power density in relation to its footprint compares really well. I have an APC that has the same footprint that's 20kW less. The Eatons have the same footprint but more power.
Also, the solution's ability to be upgraded online without bringing down our production environment works. We've never had to go down. Then you have Eaton come out and upgrade the firmware on all the modules so that they're all even. It's a simple thing.
It's a plug-and-play machine. If you need to add another power module, you just put it in like you would put a tape into a VCR or a CD into a CD ROM. You just throw it in and it automatically discovers itself. It's easy. When upgrading, you are able to increase the power capacity of the existing hardware until you get to 60kW. They're 12kW modules, so there are five of them. You can increase them by 12kW at a time. It keeps your operations costs down until you need it.
What needs improvement?
We do not use Eaton's remote monitoring, we use StruxureWare. We do use all of Eaton's web interface cards and their SNMP polling, but it's actually going to a Schneider product. Eaton makes something similar, it just wasn't as intuitive.
For how long have I used the solution?
We currently have three Blade UPS's. The newest one was purchased in 2018, and of the other two, one of them was bought in 2011 and the other one in 2010. So we've had them for a while.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The way they're built, they're a really resilient UPS. What happens is that these things are 60kW. There are five 12kW modules. You can lose one of the modules. Depending on your load and what kind of mode you have these in, you can lose up to two of them and things still keep cranking away. Now, what happens when you lose those tools is that you don't have your redundancy. But that's why we have other systems in place in the data center to carry that load. If you're designed right, these things work beautifully.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
One of the more important aspects of these things is that they are scalable. Once you buy the pack, this thing is a 60kW UPS and they come in 12kW modules. You can start out with 12kW and get the whole installation done, and then it's just adding what you need in 12kW increments. So the cost to get into them is low and the scalability is there. The ability to expand 12kW modules is good.
Our original install was a full rack. The second one we installed was two modules. And then, about midlife, we maxed that one out with power. For the last one we did, we installed the full rack. But we're a nonprofit, so budgets can be a fluid thing from year to year. Something like this, where you can scale as needed, takes some of the burden off of people like us.
I think they're coming out with a lithium-ion battery option, which is going to decrease the heat load. For me, that's not going to be applicable to replace these things. I don't plan on replacing them for the next five to seven years.
My rule of thumb for all my UPS's is that I only load them to 50 percent because I want a redundant system to be able to handle that load. If I load one of them up to 80% and it fails, then another UPS has to make up for that 80 percent. If it's at 50 percent capacity, that puts it over. It's all in how you're running your data center.
How are customer service and technical support?
Their field service team is phenomenal. I typically get one of three technicians. I've been working in our organization for 16 years and I've had the same three technicians for about the last eight years. I almost consider them friends, at this point. We've had a couple of issues where they've come out on a weekend. We have a four-hour response time, and they always beat it. If they can't make it in that four hours, I'll get a direct phone call from the tech to let me know where he is. But that's never been an issue getting somebody out there. All in all, it's been a good experience.
Typically, when you call in, they have already worked through to find the problem. All of these throw different error codes. They've almost always been able to fix it on the first call, the first site-arrival. They come with parts in hand if needed. There have been a couple of rare occasions where parts have had to be shipped, but even then, they're there within a day and things are back up.
We make use of both their service plan and their parts replacement plan. Once a year they come out and they do a preventative maintenance on them. At that time they upgrade the firmware and do an overall health check. Since we've owned these things, there's been no added expense, other than the service contracts. Service contracts are pricey, but it's better to have them because if you have one power module go, you've already doubled the cost of the service plan. We've had issues with them like that, but the equipment failure issues aren't a problem because the company is so responsive.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Before Eaton's products we had APC stuff. In terms of the reasons we switched:
- capacity for the footprint was one
- price was absolutely another
- the scalability.
Every UPS company makes similar products and it's just a matter of finding what products meet your needs. We needed a 60kW in a footprint that was three-phase, that was 208 volt. This fit the bill. It was the same thing with their 93PM offering. There are two companies that make a 200kW and 208 volt. One of them is Liebert and the other one is Eaton. The Eaton one is about 20 percent cheaper and does the same thing and it is still a reputable company.
How was the initial setup?
I've gone through every phase of these, from designing for them, to installing them, to maintaining them and doing the typical preventive maintenance stuff.
The initial setup was very easy. It's all modular. Installing a UPS is installing a UPS. You bring wires into it, you bring wires out of it. With this thing, it's a rack. Everything's plug-and-play. It's very simple to put this thing together. It's nothing a consumer would ever do, though. You need licensed electricians to come in and do this. Eaton does the startup service, so even when it gets powered on for the first time, you have them come out. They run it through a series of checks to make sure everything is good. UPS's are very dangerous. One thing wired backwards turns it into a hydrogen bomb so you have to be very careful.
In terms of deployment time, everybody's situation is going to be different. We've had different iterations of installation. We had power running under the floor before, and now it's overhead.
There's always a deployment plan. You have to get all the players there: your electrician, etc. For us it was complicated because of where things are located in a building that was built in the 70s. Other people aren't going to have the same experience as we had.
I'm the only person in our organization who is doing deployment and maintenance of this solution, for this application. I am the data center manager, and if one of them doesn't work, everybody knows.
What was our ROI?
I don't think you really get a return other than your uptime. We have APC products in there and part of the problem, why they didn't last, is because they weren't maintained properly.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We compared APC, Liebert, and Xtreme.
What other advice do I have?
If it works for your application, go for it. It's a reliable product.
The rack-mountable part of this solution is not really applicable for these because ours is a full-cabinet installation. I've never used one in a standalone where you throw it in a rack with other equipment.
The solution’s power density is the right application for us but I can't say it's the right application for everybody. If you need a 60kW UPS, to me, this is the way to go because it's a really good product and the pricing is far more competitive than APC or Liebert, the other two big players. And Eaton's service is phenomenal.
In terms of the solution's heat dissipation reducing overall cooling costs, I can't say that for certain because I don't have metrics from another product to compare with. Everybody's data center is set up a little bit differently. We have what's called cold aisle containment, so it's very efficient at getting cold air to the front of the machines that need it and discharging them in the back and circulating it back into the cold air. I can say that our cold air containment has saved us money.
I can't say these things save rack space because, when you're in this type of environment, everything takes up the same amount of floor space. This is not a modular thing. The three of them that I have are six feet tall by 28 inches wide by 42 inches deep.
We also have other solutions from Eaton. We have a 200kW UPS, it's a 93PM, and we have PDUs. We have a mismatch of PDUs because of stuff being deployed at different times but they're still working. It would be expensive to replace them all and the monitoring stuff I have is not vendor-agnostic. They're all good products.
I'm not going to say it's a perfect product, but it's pretty close to a perfect product. We haven't experienced issues that can't be easily fixed. We're very happy with what we have now.