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Future networks

Keeping it up and running

Only last month, the Sydney grid drew record power levels of 13,870 megawatts in one night, causing blackouts in several suburbs across the city. While the addition of voice and video has seen the network become increasingly central to business operations, and created a host of new opportunities for traditional data integrators to embrace a brave new world, it is also fraught with danger. The network of the future is much less tolerant of failure than it was when only carrying data and, as a result, it's essential that power and cooling are right.

Emerson's Peter Spiteri pointed out that the applications driving business advantages could quickly be lost if integrators failed to adequately consider the physical infrastructure.

"The smart integrators, who actually understand how to map the correct infrastructure in terms of scale and appropriateness, are the ones that will get the best engagement with the customer. It's about providing a complete solution," he said. "Centralising business intelligence into the network is fantastic because it reduces disparate systems but there's an increased risk because if it goes down you've lost everything.

"We tend to get involved in one of two ways - either we arrive in an ambulance because something has gone out, or we are brought in earlier in a partnership with resellers where an appropriate solution can be thought out."

Applications and physical infrastructure used to be separate worlds but integrators are now having those conversations with IT managers that are accountable. Telarus' Jules Rumsey said the way to sell power and cooling infrastructure is to sell mission-critical applications.

"If you have people in there talking about a $200 million investment, or even $10,000 at small business level if that is a big deal for a particular customer, you start to talk to them about 'what if' scenarios," he said.

"A bit of fear, uncertainty and doubt goes a long way. You ask probing questions and all of a sudden fault tolerance and power protection becomes important."

ASI Solutions' Maree Lowe said it had been engaging in a lot of datacentre work during the past couple of years. This had been a huge learning curve for her staff, she said, and had seen ASI partnering with specialist electrical engineers rather than dabbling in something they don't understand properly.

"The electrical guys come in to do the roof generators because they know their stuff and it's a good partnership," she said. "They might tell us what we need but then our engineers point out that there will be another switch added in the next 3-4 months so the battery backup won't hold the load that's about to come in. Together we build an appropriate solution."

Telarus' Rumsey said monitoring services were vital because users had a tendency to buy a firewall or power protection unit and then think they were safe.

"That's a great opportunity for resellers to ask customers whether their firewall has the latest firmware or what the load balance is on a UPS," he said. "A lot of the time they don't know."


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