One of the most disrespected, or maybe just misunderstood, pieces of technologies in many data centers (or under your desk for the matter) is the uninterruptible power supply (UPS), that lovely piece of equipment that provides a battery boost if you have a surge or an outage. Certainly, UPSes have taken on more tech-appeal along with the energy-efficiency movement, but probably we could all use a bit more education on their role in managing power more efficiently and cost-effectively.
The thing that got me onto this rant was a conversation with Jack Pouchet, director of energy initiatives for Emerson Network Power. Pouchet reminded me of one big thing: It's not just how much power gets to your servers and storage and routers and switches and so on, it's the quality of what arrives there that you need to worry about. Doubly so, if peak demand creates spikes or brownouts. If you make one mistake along the way, especially in converting back and forth between AC and DC sources, it can dramatically affect efficiency.
Pouchet and I also chatted briefly about renewable energy and its role in the data center. One thing that Emerson is toying with and testing (and for which it has submitted a patent) is the idea of using either solar or wind energy technology to collect information and feed it directly into a UPS. This would keep the devices supplied without requiring energy from the grid AND it would also seem like a lot safer strategy if the grid DOES go down for a lengthy period of time. (This DOES happen, if the problem we had about six years ago out here in New Jersey and New York is any indicator.) It makes total sense to me that your UPS would benefit from using a renewable source.
Anyway, I'm keeping an eye on advances from the UPS world. Share anything you hear. Rant over.