Future data centres should run on a simplified power supply architecture for better performance and reduced footprints, especially as more enterprises start to depend on cloud service data centres.
The two key parameters of next-generation power supply are size and power efficiency, especially because conventional technology aren't always able to facilitate effective but small-sized power sources. This is where advanced technology comes into play, with its abilities to streamline the overall structures of facilities without providing any compromises in functionality and performance.
However, many modifications are made realistic by leveraging experiences of operators, who are the closest to applying these innovations in their businesses. These operators include China-based 21Vianet. Founded in 1996, the data centre expert with 39,000 cabinets and more than 50 data centres has served more than 5,000 customers, including several Fortune Global 500 enterprises.
As a Multi-Tenant Data Centre (MTDC) service provider, 21Vianet has to meet a wide range of requirements from a diversified portfolio of clients. These include the scalability of services to cope with their business growth.
However, traditional data centre settings, along with the outdated power supply mode, posed many challenges to the company. First of all, the vast computing power required for a scalable system cannot be smoothly run under a conventional set-up.
Cost is another issue. The initial investment required is necessarily inflated, since an enterprise needs to build sufficient resources to cover future requirements. This cost is often two or three times more than the initial need. And as costs spiral, significant vacancy is inevitable, as excess infrastructure often lie dormant until some unspecified future date.
An outdated power supply also causes problems. The conventional lead-acid batteries are big in size but they are low in power efficiency, leading to high rents and electricity costs. They are not as safe, with risks of leakage, distortion, or even explosion. The Operations and Maintenance (O&M) systems of such traditional setups also lack the capabilities of predicting such safety risks. Specialised personnel are required to conduct time-consuming O&M tasks.
New UPS transforms data centres into tech powerhouses
To meet the tougher requirements amid the rapid changes in the industry, Huawei has designed an end-to-end data centre solution supported by the Huawei SmartLi Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), including 28 sets of modular UPS 5000-E-500K and 40 sets of SmartLi 2.0 cabinets. This data centre solution supports flexible service deployment, lowers Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and ensures a higher out-of-counter rate.
The new data centre benefits from a fully modular UPS design. The power module, monitoring module, and bypass module are all hot-swappable, which means they can be replaced within minutes to greatly improve O&M efficiency.
Besides, the lead-acid batteries used in previous data centre solutions are now replaced with Li-ion batteries. With eco-friendly and safe Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) cells, the deployment of SmartLi UPS has led to a 50% reduction in the amount of space needed — representing a significant reduction in rent — with a service lifespan that's twice as long as traditional lead-acid batteries.
SmartLi UPS is rather flexible, allowing both old and new modules to run simultaneously, enabling phased capacity expansion.
With Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered O&M, SmartLi UPS accurately predicts both capacitance and the lifespan of fans, the temperature of key nodes, and battery capacity to achieve smart, predictive — rather than passive — O&M.
Safe and intelligent operations with evolving technologies
Since Huawei deployed this data centre solution, 21Vianet has enjoyed tangible benefits. For example, with a 50% reduction in the solution's physical footprint — freeing up additional space for more IT cabinets — 21Vianet has improved its out-of-counter rate by 10%, helping it serve more customers and increase revenue.
With 97% power efficiency, SmartLi UPS is also helping 21Vianet to make huge savings in the electricity fees it pays. And since SmartLi UPS can function for up to 10 years without needing to be replaced — twice the lifecycle of traditional lead-acid batteries — replacement costs have been eliminated for the foreseeable future. As a net result, the TCO of the solution has been significantly lowered.
Simplified O&M also brings big benefits: the AI-powered system monitors the "health" of the system in real time and hot-swappable parts means they can be easily replaced within five minutes. By providing simplicity and efficiency, there is no longer any need to wait for a specialised engineer to arrive as O&M can now be easily performed by onsite staff.
Finally, by using SmartLi UPS, more investment opportunities have opened for 21Vianet. Since the solution features unique intelligent current equalisation technology, flexible service deployment and phased capacity expansion are both supported when the need arises, meaning that the initial investment required can be reduced to ultimately ensure the liquidity of capital.
SmartLi UPS was among the innovative solutions showcased in the fifth HUAWEI CONNECT which took place in Shanghai from September 23-26. At the event, industrial leaders and tech elites shared their views on the trends of digital transformation and how Huawei can play a role in supporting enterprises to cope with the challenges in the journey.