The Internet of Things (IoT) is all around us, constantly gathering all kinds of data and sending it off to various compute resources that will make sense of it to help us do business better, keep our streets safer, or whatever the case may be. IoT technology is constantly improving and works really well most of the time – except when it doesn’t work at all.
And what would cause it to stop working? A power outage somewhere along the IoT chain, for one. That chain can be quite long, with lots of potential points of power failure. Which means any organization that is depending on IoT technology for any sort of important application needs to assess its power protection strategy to ensure important data isn’t lost for good.
As the image below illustrates nicely, IoT technology can apply to all sorts of industries and involves the instrumentation of an array of end devices. Look at the healthcare and life sciences sector, for example. It includes various types of environments, from clinics and doctor’s offices to labs and hospitals. Consider all the various sorts of end devices that play into the picture, including surgical equipment, pumps, monitors, diagnostic imaging machines and so forth.
Chances are there’s some type of backup power for some of these elements. Most hospitals, for instance, have on-site generators that kick in when utility power goes out. But they need to consider what happens in between the time the power goes out and when the generator becomes operational. While this is usually only a few seconds, it can result in lost data – which can be costly at best and life-threatening at worst.
Consider, too, the networks that enable the collection of all that data. If there’s no backup for the routers and switches that make data communications possible, then in the event of a power outage there’s no way to send the data where it needs to go. Again, lots of data can be lost.
I’m not suggesting you need to install a UPS beside every piece of medical equipment. Rather, you need to take a look at which devices warrant such backup, because their loss would put the organization at risk of losing important data. Then you need to rationalize how to back up those devices.
It may mean rethinking your power backup strategy, and grouping certain elements such that they can share the same UPS. And it may mean investigating the latest UPS equipment to see what it can do for you. For example, managed UPSs (such as the Schneider Electric Smart-UPS line) will alert you when there’s a problem and you can configure exactly which outlets should be backed up at any given time. You can even remotely shut off power to certain outlets, such as if you want to preserve UPS power for more important devices, or to reboot a server.
It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of UPS backup power to ensure various IoT elements stay up and running – routers, for example, use relatively little power. So it’s not an insurmountable problem, but it is one that demands some attention.
For more information on the different types of power problems, download the free APC by Schneider Electric white paper number 18, “The Seven Types of Power Problems.”