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Where is today’s data center UPS market going?
15.06.2011, 10:04
Автор: Yevgeniy Sverdlik
Опубликовано: 15.06.2011
Источник: www.datacenterdynamics.com

Today’s market for data center UPS is characterized by the need for higher capacity per unit of space, energy efficiency and an increasing interest in alternative (non-lead-acid-battery-based) energy storage solutions. That’s according to the latest data from Frost & Sullivan.

The analyst house says most revenue in the market is driven by small data centers – 20kVa-200kVa – a form factor that for many vendors does not even fall under the category of data centers. Still, vendors agree that the sheer volume of such IT closets springing up everywhere is driving most revenue in the market.

Frost & Sullivan’s analyst Anu Cherian said small data centers generated US$1,84bn of revenue for UPS vendors in 2010. Compare that to $444.3m generated by medium data centers (200.1kVa-500kVa), and to $737.2m generated by large data centers (500kVa and up).

“Small data centers constitute the bulk of revenues and investment,” Cherian said during a recent online presentation. “This is likely due to lower upfront capital cost involved.”

Peter Panfil, VP and general manager for Emerson’s Liebert AC Power unit, said small data centers have also been driving so much revenue because their operators are increasingly expecting the same level of UPS performance and reliability as enterprise operators have traditionally expected.

A major reason behind this attitude shift is the increase in cost associated with downtime, as companies’ revenue becomes increasingly dependent on their applications running, he explained.

Not all UPS vendors play in the small-data-center market
The dynamic does not necessarily affect all players. There are some that focus on the large data center market.

Active Power is one of them. “We are more competitive and more lively in the larger data centers,” the company’s director of product management Todd Kiehn said.

Another example is GE, which recently bought Lineage, which provides data center UPS products. Trent Waterhouse, VP of marketing at Lineage, said the company’s focus is on large builds.

“We are typically focusing on 100,000-sq-ft and lager … facilities,” Waterhouse said. “This is where the utility bills are in the million dollars per month.”

Market generally on the upswing
According to Frost & Sullivan, the market has been rebounding from the recession. After slumping from 13.4% growth rate in 2008 to a 10.9% decline in 2009, it grew 2% in 2010, Cherian said.

Todd said that because many projects planned before the recession had been deferred for long periods of time, 2009 was a much rougher year for Active Power than 2008 was. Last year, however, was a strong comeback for the company.

Panfil said strong growth in 2010 was partially due to the very fact that projects had been put on hold. “They just can’t wait any longer,” he said. “They’ve run out of capacity.”

More density and better support in demand
Rising power densities in data centers are one of the key challenges for UPS vendors, according to Frost & Sullivan.

“Data centers are increasingly using blade servers as opposed to rack servers,” Cherian said. “Data centers are also becoming more scalable.”

These trends have put pressure on manufacturers to increase capacity of their UPS systems, while reducing their physical size, as space in data centers increases in value.

Customers are also increasingly looking for around-the-clock service and support.

The search for better energy storage
One of the key trends driving technological change in the UPS market is a search for replacement of lead-acid batteries as the energy storage solution. The alternatives are flywheels, ultra-capacitors, fuel cells and superconducting magnetic-energy storage.

Characteristics that weigh heaviest on decisions between the different technologies are physical footprint and maintenance requirements over the battery’s lifetime, Cherian said.

Active Power is a long-time provider of flywheel-based UPS systems. The company is also “keeping an eye” on ultra-capacitors, Kiehn said. “Ultra-caps are very interesting. The issue with them right now is the cost.”

GE is addressing the energy storage question by actively developing a sodium-battery technology, which it plans to roll out within the next two years, Waterhouse said.  These batteries will have a 20-year lifecycle and will not need to be cooled, he said.

Emerson has UPS products that work with flywheels and ultra-capacitors, according to Panfil. The company is also working with GE to take advantage of the anticipated new battery technology.

High-voltage DC power in data centers remains controversial
Another technology trend to watch is increased interest in feeding high-voltage DC power directly to IT equipment, which eliminates multiple conversion steps and associated electrical losses. While Cherian believes DC power is poised to impose competition on the AC power market for data centers, vendors’ views vary widely.

“We have no plans for that right now,” Active Power’s Kiehn said. “We see an awful lot of vendor-level discussion and so on, but we have not seen any market demand for it.”

GE’s view could not be more different. According to Waterhouse, GE bought Lineage primarily because of its DC UPS technology. The acquisition also ties in with the company’s aforementioned battery plans.

“What we’re looking at is a way to deploy a single battery array that’s supplying battery power to both AC-load equipment as well as DC-load equipment,” Waterhouse explained. GE is planning to go after large Internet and cloud end-users with this technology.

Emerson has both AC and DC products for data centers, but the company has not had much success with the latter. The company has created high-voltage DC configurations for data center clients who were looking to prove the technology at scale, but those deals never panned out, often because end users could not make a compelling case to their management.

The mega trends
In addition to industry-specific trends, Cherian pointed out two “mega trends” that are exerting influence on the data center UPS market.

One of them is urbanization, which is driving the need for more data storage, increasing criticality of information and decreasing tolerance for any downtime.

The second mega trend is the relationship of people considered part of Generation Y with technology. This relationship is characterized by proliferation of mobile devices and increased need for data storage and access.

The mega trends are expected to drive demand for data center capacity only further and further into the future, driving with it demand for power back-up infrastructure.

Разделы и темы материала: Инженерная инфраструктура ЦОД, Электроснабжение ЦОД, ЦОД и серверные
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