Batteries and the Dawn of the UPS-less Data Center

Rich Miller at Data Center Knowledge wonders if servers should come with batteries. At least two web giants — Google and Facebook — are answering with an emphatic “yes.” And if such a strategy catches on, it could spell good news for IT vendors.

Google raised eyebrows earlier this year when it revealed a custom, energy-efficient server design that allowed the search giant to work its magic without breaking the bank. The Google server (for lack of an official name) makes use of several energy-saving features, but the main innovation is a built-in battery pack.

By equipping each server with a battery, Google distributes the backup power functionality that is usually provided by big and expensive centralized uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems. This enables Google to continually “right size” its backup power plans and avoid some hefty data center-related capital expenditures. It also helps Google achieve near-100 percent efficiency vs. the 92 percent to 95 percent efficiency of conventional UPS systems.

Now that Facebook is following Google’s UPS-less lead, their considerable clout may soon reverberate across the server portfolios of IT vendors. For the likes of HP or Dell, this could lead to select server lines that command a price premium. Meanwhile, battery suppliers would get to enjoy expanded market opportunities. And even if they are slow to offer “batteries included” servers, at least one storage startup isn’t shy about using onboard batteries for low-power, high-performance storage systems. Learn more about the battery’s changing role in the data center at GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

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