Protecting Micro Data Centres Against Abrupt Shutdowns

Edge computing has emerged as a major trend around the world, offering advantages such as better performance and lower latency by virtue of its proximity to end-users. The result is a gradual but inexorable increase in micro data centres as businesses turn to them to support their expansion and digital transformation initiatives.

The Rise of HCI

Located at remote or unattended locations, edge facilities are often powered by modern hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) systems. These are highly flexible systems that amalgamate compute, storage and networking into a single appliance that is managed from a central dashboard. With the ability to expand by simply plugging in new HCI appliances and configuring it purely by software, it is no wonder that such systems are fast gaining in popularity around the globe.

Miniature figurines on a server drive

But deploying these systems at remote locations does pose new problems. According to Pankaj Sharma of Schneider Electric, businesses must think long and hard when it comes to power protection. For instance, an electrical trip or power outage at a retail store or branch office could result in the abrupt shutdown of these costly systems.

Though a hard shutdown is never recommended when it comes to computers, it is particularly problematic for HCI systems. While data reliability and storage redundancies are an integral part of these systems, the presence of multiple virtual machines with arbitrary storage volumes makes for a complex storage subsystem. A proper shutdown is hence crucial to guarantee data consistency.

“HCI must be shut down and restarted according to specific routines to avoid data corruption or loss. If the power goes out in a retail store or branch office, for example, any HCI left unprotected will abruptly shut down – potentially causing real problems,” explained Sharma.

Protection Against Abrupt Shutdowns

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can play a big role to protect against abrupt shutdowns, though are only useful against transient power issues or brief power outages. With a finite runtime and IT employees unlikely to be stationed at an edge data centre, a traditional UPS deployment is only delaying the inevitable in the event of an extended outage.

Supervising a server room

This is where UPS manufacturers need to partner with HCI market leaders to ensure that proper shutdown routines kick in before their power is depleted. Fortunately, this is already being done by leading UPS manufacturers such as Schneider Electric, which already work with popular HCI platforms such as those from Nutanix and VMware vSAN through its PowerChute Network Shutdown software.

Configured properly, the software not only ensures that HCI systems are shut down gracefully as recommended by the HCI vendors, but that the servers are also started up in accordance with best practices when power returns. This is useful not just for edge data centres deployments, but also for large, mission-critical HCI deployments – you don’t want an improper shutdown to result in data corruption or data loss.

If your organisation is looking to deploy new UPS systems at remote locations, do consider lithium-ion UPS systems for its benefits such as longevity and maintenance-free operation.