Runtime graph 11.14.14Data centers and other mission critical applications have long relied on several minutes of ride-through time using traditional batteries for their UPS systems. However, we are now seeing a dramatic evolution in runtime specifications —from 15 minutes a decade ago to five minutes a few years ago to one minute or less today. Customers across all industries say the acceptance of shorter ride-through time for critical applications is a growing trend with the goal to spend less up front, reduce maintenance needs, and increase overall system reliability and availability.

For data centers to achieve Uptime Institute Tiers 3 or 4 status and availability approaching 99.999%, they must have a highly redundant and reliable architecture. For most businesses, such as enterprise, colocation, and health care, a “graceful” or “soft” shutdown is no longer an option — the system simply must stay up.

In case of an outage, either on-site generators are ready to support the entire critical load for as long as needed, or operations are switched over to a cloud environment or backup data center, ensuring 100% uptime. If the end goal is to transfer to generator, which can be online within 10 seconds, or switch over applications, which can take around 60 seconds, why do we still need 10 or 15 minutes of battery backup time?

The short answer is you don’t.

UPS systems and electrical architectures have evolved significantly over the years. Backup generators and data center failover scenarios continue to improve due in part to the advent of cloud computing and virtualization that enables even greater resiliency. And because of this, more customers are demanding less UPS ride-through time, enabling them to reduce deployment and ownership costs without impacting the overall availability of their critical system.

As with most things in our lives, we are always striving to become more effective and do more with less. The term ‘quality over quantity’ plays a big role in our busy lives, and it is being employed more often in data centers too. As we march toward a widely accepted UPS ride-through time of one minute or less, designers, consultants and operators must shift focus toward lower capital and operating expenses, minimizing human error and implementing more innovative technologies into an ever-changing and forward-looking industry.