UPS buying guide: power infrastructure solutions for edge computing

Edge computing has become an IT buzz-phrase in reference to data produced by Internet of Things (IoT) devices that is processed closer to where end devices access the network, instead of sending it across long routes to data centers or clouds. Computing at the edge has gained popularity because data processing closer to applications reduces latency for faster connections. The compute edge is the most common use case and typically consists of a single rack (or less than a rack) deployment in multiple locations, hosting one hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) for compute and storage along with the necessary networking gear.​

Selecting the right power infrastructure for your edge computing application can be a confusing process. We make it easy. Learn how to keep your mission critical applications and devices running longer and prevent servers from data loss with these 10 buying tips. ​

1) Choose the right rack enclosure for edge computing

Several factors go into selecting the right rack enclosure for your edge environment. The first factor to consider is also the most rigid: the physical space you have available. Unless you have the budget to move walls or clear out additional square footage, understanding the maximum rack size your space can accomodate (while also allowing for airflow around your equipment) is the first step to building out a compute edge environment. Luckily, rack enclosures come in a variety of sizes. 

  • The Eaton RS rack enclosure is an ideal fit for the standard, 42U organization.​
  • The MiniRaQ by Eaton is available for smaller, wall mounted systems where there are footprint or floor space limitations.  ​MiniRaQs are available in 2U to 10U. 

2) Choose the right level of physical security for the edge computing applications​

If your enclosure is going to be installed in an open-access location or if there is a lack of trained IT personnel present, you should strive to replicate data center-grade physical security in remote locations as much as possible.  ​

A locking rack enclosure is the logical first step in securing your hardware from both malicious and accidental tampering. The types of locks available depend on the rack enclosure you select.

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The MiniRaQ Secure wallmount enclosure includes a locking lid with physical keys. 

Some rack enclosures do not come with integrated locks. TANlock by Eaton is a modular access control system that can be user-installed on an existing rack. This system offers several different authentication modules so you can cutomize your physical security needs. 

For addition IP-based access, consider pairing TANlock by Eaton with Eaton Visual Power Manager (VPM) for an even more secure remote control of your systems. VPM can also be used to monitor IP-based security cameras positioned to track unwanted behavior around your rack enclosures.

Physical security does not end with protecting your hardware from tampering. Environmental factors can play a role in the performance of your equipment. Integrating environmental sensors that can both track temperature and humidity and can trigger automated actions in case of abnormal conditions, is standard in data centers and is recommended in all IT environments.

3) A strategy for selecting the right power distribution in an edge computing environment​

Power distribution to IT equipment inside the rack enclosure is not just about having the right number of receptacles. This is a critical decision that calls for more than a few simple power strips. 

For edge computing environments, remote management is the primary concern. Being able to remotely control and reboot faulty devices can help you avoid costly, time consuming trips to remote locations. Some rackmount PDUs provide individual outlet switching capabilities. This means having the right number of receptacles and being able to control them without setting foot on site.

 

Explore Eaton's Managed rackmount PDUs and High Density configurable rackmount PDUs, which both offer individual remote outlet switching.

HD rack PDUs in rack

4) Select the right rackmount UPS form factor

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See the 5P1000R (left), a standard depth 1U UPS, compared to the 5P1000RC (right), a compact 2U UPS. 

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Rackmount UPS models come in a variety of form factors. And bigger dimensions does not always mean better–or in this case longer runtime–so it's important to know the size and form factor your edge computing environment can support. 

Most rackmount UPSs come in 2U height with a standard depth of ~20 inches. Standard server rack enclosures, such as the RS enclosure, are designed to easily accomodate UPSs of this size. 

Not all wallmounted rack enclosures can house a standard depth UPS. The MiniRaq installs equipment vertically, which means equipment up to 35 inches can fit securely inside. If you will be using a horizontal wallmount rack,  you may need to look at compact rackmount UPSs. 

A compact rackmount UPS, such as some models of Eaton's 5P UPS, are 2U in height and 16 inches deep. The shorter depth allows for ample clearance, even when the UPS is installed in a 19 inch deep rack. (See the picture to the left showing the shorter depth of the 5P compact UPS in comparison to 5P 1U model.)

If space inside the rack enclosure is at a premium, 1U rackmount UPSs are available. These UPSs are half the height of the typical rackmount UPS, which makes them ideal for deployments in wallmount enclosures or half height rack enclosures. 

For some environments a rack enclosure is not an option. If you need to deploy a single UPS close to the equipment it will support, a wallmount UPS is a great option. 1U UPSs are a good option for wallmounting because their shorter height allows them to sit closer to the wall. If depth is the limiting factor, Eaton's 5P compact UPSs can be wallmounted. 

5) Find the right battery technology

Lithium-ion batteries are more readily available than they were a few years ago, so if you have not explored a UPS with lithium-ion batteries, now is the time.

Lithium-ion batteries have a lot of benefits for edge computing environments, and minimizing the number of trips to remote sites to maintain batteries is one of the biggest. Consider the total cost of replacing UPS batteries:

(Battery cost x number of sites) + travel time back and forth from sites = a big capitol expense

Lithium-ion batteries have a higher upfront cost than standard valve regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries, but their average service life is eight years. VRLA batteries, on the other hand, typically last three to five years. As a result, you can eliminate one battery replacement cycle over the lifetime of the backup power UPS.​

6) Determine the right UPS battery runtime

There is no magic formula for determining the amount of battery runtime you need. However, there are a few important things to consider which will help you narrow down a runtime range that will keep your network protected without leaving you holding extra batteries. 

  1. Figure out how long it takes to shut down a host or to move all your virtual machines (VMs) to a different location.​
  2. Consider the load shedding capabilities enabled by a rack PDU or backup power UPS with switched outlets and Eaton Intelligent Power Manager (IPM) software. By switching off non-critical devices at the beginning of a power outage, you can maximize the battery runtime for your essential workloads without the need to buy additional battery packs.​

Explore runtime graphs for all of Eaton's backup power UPSs in the runtime graph library.

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7) Select the right UPS capacity

Choosing a plug-and-play UPS battery backup makes it easier to deploy anywhere you have a standard wall outlet without needing an electrician to install a different one outlet. In North America, the standard wall socket is called a 5-15R, and UPS models 1500 VA and below use a matching 5-15P input plug rated at 15 amps. 
5-15R

5-15R

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5-20R

8) Select the best network connectivity solution

Remote sites call for remote monitoring. Connecting your UPS system to your network is critical in maintaining visibility into your edge computing system and the first step in that is selecting a network connectivity card

With ransomware and cybersecurity attacks increasing in both sophistication and frequency, cybersecurity is also a critical concern. Eaton's Gigabit Network Card and Industrial Gateway Card are the first UPS connectivity devices to meet both UL 2900-1 and IEC 62443-4-2 cybersecurity standards. ​

Read more about how Eaton can help manage your cybersecurity

9) Enable remote management for edge computing solutions​

Depending on the complexity of your compute edge deployment, you can leverage one of the following solutions:​

 

IPM now integrates with Dell EMC VxRail Hyperconverged Infrastructure. Learn more here.

10) Connect with your hyperconverged infrastructure system

In condensed and virtualized IT environments power disruptions are more dangerous than usual. Unfortunately, the reality of hyperconverged infrastructures is that they are often improperly provisioned and therefore lack an adequate power management strategy.

Eaton’s strategic partnerships with the leading HCI providers ensure vendors have verified that Eaton’s UPSs, PDUs and Intelligence Platform are compatible with their infrastructures, which saves time and money and reduces risk from deployment through the lifespan of equipment. With ever-growing responsibilities and ever-present IT fire drills, Eaton has focused on designing solutions that enable IT professionals to manage power remotely.