Thursday, 19 July 2007

SBS - Some Real World UPS - Power :) - Experiences

We have a really insane storm going on outside right now. Lots of lightning with the thunder literally shaking the building.

We have been having unusually hot weather here, and that has lead to some really neat storms.

So, what happens when the power goes out?

Have you tested your UPS setup to see if the "shutdown the server" after so many minutes actually gives the SBS box time to shutdown properly?

We all may know that if we don't stop the Exchange services before a reboot, that reboot can take a long time. Especially on the older SBS installs and hardware boxes.

The same goes for the shutdown sequence initiated by the UPS software.

An improper SBS shutdown can have unpredictable consequences.

Once the power comes back up, is the server's BIOS setting changed from "Last State" or "Power Off" to "Power On"? If that setting has not been changed to power the server back up after the power outage, someone will need physical access to the box or we are on our way down to the client's location to power it up and make sure that everything comes up normally.

Here is our typical experience with the APC UPS products we install with our SBS servers:
  • 2U SUA1500 VA: Dual Xeon 51xx 5U Series + 6-10 drives: ~9-14 minutes.
  • RS 1000 VA: Pentium 4 HT + 4 drives: 7-10 minutes
  • RS 1500 VA: Pentium D + 4 drives: 9-12 minutes
Those numbers are on the somewhat conservative side as server power consumption, therefore run time, can vary by the time of day when the power outage happens.

We typically install a separate 700-1500 VA UPS for the ADSL/Cable modem, router if there, and other network infrastructure leaving a dedicated UPS to each server.

Power backup solutions vary by client and their needs. Always be aware of how much revenue a client looses for each hour of downtime! For some of our larger engineering, architectural, and accountant firm clients the cost of downtime can be in the thousands of dollars per hour range.

This is a great opportunity to generate some billable time with your clients. Also, having an inventory/audit of the client's infrastructure will provide a quick method to run through and see who has what UPS installed where and how old they are.

Give the client a call about the need to test the UPS infrastructure, and pop in when the time is convenient for the client and start pulling those UPS plugs.

A short battery life is essentially a dead battery. It is then time to replace the battery if the UPS is younger than 2-3 years or replace the UPS if it is older than 2-3 years.

WikipediA for UPS: Uninterruptible Power Supply.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

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