UPS As Easy As A-B-C


APC's PowerStruXure offers three implementation approaches


Between the utility companies and the diesel generators stand the foot soldiers of the power battle: uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs). According to Natick, Mass.-based research firm Venture Development Corp. (VDC), VARs and OEMs accounted for more than 20 percent of 2001's worldwide $4.5 billion market for UPSs, and opportunities to hook bigger fish are growing.

"With things like blade servers, the power density per rack is very high," says Alan Katz, data center market manager at MGE UPS Systems, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Already substantially dominating the lower end of the market, West Kingston, R.I.-based American Power Conversion (APC) hopes to start earning its cut in the higher end with its PowerStruXure product line, which caters to expansive IT racks and entire data centers.

PowerStruXure has helped expand the scope of client engagements at ShoreGroup, a Manhattan-based VAR.

"These data centers were of such a scale that [clients] weren't going to just put stackable UPSs in the bottom of a rack, but it was frustrating because we would be specing out a lot of things we couldn't sell," says Scott Kimmelman, vice president of business development.

PowerStruXure is actually an umbrella for three different approaches to UPSs (A, B and C), with the common characteristic that each is designed as a modular system with three major component groups: power distribution, battery blocks, and command and control. In essence, APC is following the RAID mold, offering units with n 1 redundancy and hot-swappability on all of the critical elements.

PowerStruXure cabinets are scalable in increments as relatively humble as 10 kW at a time. The free space in a PowerStruXure enclosure allows more power storage to be added.

APC's Type A range uses single-phase (208V) components for smaller implementations, while the senior classes use three-phase input from the power utility. The core Type B PowerStruXure configurations are designed to supply between 10 kW and 200 kW to a room or row. Larger power needs can be accommodated by adding more racks or stepping up to the Type C units that require a centralized approach to power.

The NetShelter VX enclosures for the Type B range, built to hold the Symmetra UPS components, are standard 7-foot cabinets.

"You can unhook it, roll it through the door and deploy it somewhere else,it's flexible," says APC communications director Russell Senesac.

Management capabilities vary across each range. Type A units have built-in SNMP and Web-management interfaces, while Type B units offer a front-panel basic environmental control. More advanced management options are available through a slide-in information controller server that answers status requests and sends out configurable e-mail alerts on power events and system status. APC also offers network cards that allow PowerStruXure to be managed via SNMP-, MODBUS- and JBUS-compliant suites.

For VARs, APC has established both authorized and certified partner grades. Just building out the power whips, for example, requires special effort on the part of the integrator. In fact, getting educated now will provide the best opportunity to break into the widening competition for row and whole data center UPS deployment.

"VARs will start to see a lot more demand for three-phase UPS in the 10-30 [kW] range, but with power density starting to increase, VARs are wandering into foreign territory," MGE's Katz says.