According to a 2016 study from Ponemon Institute, the average cost per minute of an unplanned outage is nearly $9,000 per incident. The same study found that UPS system failure continues to be the number one cause of unplanned outages. Further, data center surveys have shown between 65-85% of unplanned downtime can be attributed to battery failure of some kind. As a result, battery strings must be replaced before they fail in order to meet 100% availability and prevent unplanned downtime.

In order to reduce the risk of downtime, as well as financial and reputational damages due to data center outages, large facilities are deploying battery monitoring systems. These modern systems allow facility managers to determine the health performance of their battery assets, avoid thermal runaway and extend battery life. While continuous monitoring certainly helps ensure protection, the upfront capital required for these systems is significant enough to prevent many small to mid-size data centers from being able to implement them. In addition, it adds even more equipment to maintain, and staff must be trained to interpret data generated by the monitors to gain any real value or actionable insight.

Without monitoring systems, facility managers must depend on unreliable and disparate numbers from manufacturers, industry experts and vendors to estimate when its time to replace their batteries. However, due to the high cost of hardware, companies with limited budgets tend to delay replacing batteries by as much as a year to save on expenses, despite not really knowing when they may actually fail. Because battery life cycles vary significantly by brand and can be impacted by external factors not taken into consideration by manufacturers and the like, this replacement strategy is insufficient, at best, in preventing failures.

While some data centers don’t have the budget or resources to implement, maintain and manage a costly monitoring system, blindly replacing battery assets leaves them vulnerable to surprise outages. Though this risk was once considered the cost of doing business, emerging as-a-service battery monitoring solutions are breaking down the barrier to entry for small and mid-size facilities by giving them a cost-effective alternative to accurately predict and prevent failures.

As-a-Service Battery Monitoring & Management

According to a recent Gartner report, IT equipment spending is expected to decline 0.5% in 2016 and IT services spending to increase 2.1% from 2015. In addition, according to Computer Economics’’ IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks study for 2016/2017, IT capital spending is holding flat for the third year in a row and hiring plans are muted, as well.  

As the opportunity to strategically outsource certain operational functions of data centers becomes available, the key beneficiaries will be small to mid-size facilities that don’t have the budget or human capital to purchase, manage and maintain their own hardware.

A battery management service, for example, removes the upfront capital required to purchase a monitoring system while providing a dedicated specialist. These specialists are trained to review battery performance data within the context of trends and historical data, thus revealing insights to predict issues before they occur. This ‘predict and prevent’ method not only reduces risk of outages, but can also extend battery life by preventing premature removal of the assets before true end of life. By understanding equipment circumstances at a much more detailed level, as well as leveraging recorded and measured experience, facilities are increasingly able to support uptime objectives. This added insight into the health of their systems also reduces overall cost of maintenance.

As the data center industry shifts towards IT services, small to mid-size facilities will continue to reap the benefits of more cost-effective and efficient alternatives to traditional operations. For more information on the advantages of an as-a-service model for battery asset management, download our white paper (PDF)