We’re gonna need back-up for the back-up

01 May 2018

The University of Winchester caters for around 6,500 students, and over the last decade it has invested heavily in its facilities and infrastructure that included a virtualised IT environment.

In recent years, its existing UPS systems failed without warning, the first sign being fumes coming off the batteries that were used in the devices to protect the Edge IT infrastructure which is there to ensure round-the-clock availability of IT services to students.

The IT team needed to find a new UPS provider as part of a network upgrade. Crucially, the new UPSs needed to offer the ability to monitor the condition of the batteries and provide proactive diagnostics. The key challenge facing the upgrade was that a new UPS in the data centre would have to integrate with legacy equipment, while other new network solutions needed to be compatible with the university’s virtualised environment, managed by VMware’s vCenter, and enable better predictability around when maintenance should take place.

Winchester opted to deploy Eaton’s Intelligent Power Management(IPM) software to support business continuity across its entire estate. This allows the IT team to manage mission critical applications across the network from a virtualisation dashboard. VMs in the network can be shutdown through IPM, with the restarting controlled by vCenter.

From a hardware perspective, Eaton installed 50 of its 5PXsingle phase 3kVA UPS units across the campus, each providing a runtime of up to 20 minutes in the event of a power failure. The firm also installed two 9SX5000VA UPSs to support higher power applications at the network edge, and a 50kW 93PMin the university’s data centre.

Considering the previous issues, Eaton says its UPS units feature AMB battery management technology that enables proactive diagnostics of battery life, giving the IT team up to 60 days’ warning ahead of a battery’s end of useful life. It says this is enough time to hot swap the battery without switching off any IT equipment. 

According to Eaton, since implementing IPM, the university has been able to get greater insights into what’s happening with its IT suite and at a power level. In fact, the company claims that the UPS units have kept Winchester’s IT running on a vast number of occasions, despite tracking more than 1,500 power “events”. The proactive diagnostics of the ABM technology also enable the university to plan IT maintenance outside of term time, further increasing uptime.