There is unfortunately no crystal ball when it comes to predicting ever-changing technology advancements, yet that doesn't stop industry insiders from speculating about the potential game-changers looming on the horizon. The power category is no exception, but ironically, one of 2018's most exciting developments in uninterruptible power systems (UPSs) promises to be … well, completely forgettable.
That's because now more than ever, IT professionals demand solutions that require little or no thought. Once installed, a UPS must be capable of performing long-term on its own; in essence, forgotten. This is especially true when it's tasked with safeguarding the sensitive electronic equipment powering edge computing, a prospective technology trend that ranked among the hottest topics discussed at Gartner's annual IT Infrastructure, Operations Management & Data Center Conference in December.
Eaton 5P Lithium-ion rackmount UPS
A method of optimizing cloud computing systems by performing analytics, knowledge generation and data processing at the “edge” of the network, this new technology reduces the communications bandwidth required between sensors and the central data center. Although edge applications are not yet being widely implemented, power protection manufacturers are already focused on adding value to the concept, evident in the unveiling of new lithium ion battery-powered UPSs.
Uniquely qualified to handle edge computing's load requirements, lithium ion UPSs represent a significant progression in UPS battery technology, which for decades has been dominated by lead acid. Because lithium ion batteries offer an 8- to 10-year life cycle — as opposed to their lead acid counterparts, which generally need to be replaced every 3 to 4 years — IT managers stand to gain a number of advantages.
To begin with, IT professionals can easily deploy lithium ion UPSs without the maintenance and refresh challenges of those utilizing lead acid. In addition, the extended battery life provided by lithium ion enables users to align their UPS refresh cycles with the rest of IT stack, saving time and money spent on labor and replacement batteries.
Furthermore, lithium ion UPSs boast the aforementioned “set it and forget it” value proposition, which is especially conducive to retail applications, the space where edge computing is currently most prevalent. UPSs are protecting critical network operations within stores, yet the vast majority of retail employees are not IT proficient — and unlikely to recognize the gravity of a blinking LED warning of impending battery failure, for example.
Edge computing is also poised to help revive the distributed UPS space. With so much data having moved to the cloud, there has been some speculation that standalone UPSs are a dying breed. Yet the edge is all about small power systems; racks, enclosures, PDUs, and reliable, rackmounted backup solutions must all be in close proximity to the network switches and other devices that facilitate connection to cloud.
For both edge computing and other applications, the latest forecasts suggest that the more forgettable the UPS, the better — and despite the absence of a crystal ball, lithium ion-powered UPSs are looking to perfectly fill that space.
As an integral part of modern technology, the power category is an everchanging — and yet absolutely vital — part of your organization. In an effort to help you stay apprised of both the latest innovations and the issues most likely to impact your business and uptime, Eaton’s own vice president and general manager of the Distributed Power Quality business, Hervé Tardy, will be delving into pertinent topics in a monthly blog.