Anticipating Your Organization's Growing Pains

by Robert Leake on 9/30/20 11:16 AM

The third in a series of posts that explores the vital signs of a healthcare system’s critical infrastructure, this blog looks at growth at the healthcare edge and lays out the key considerations for ensuring your infrastructure has an agile skeletal system, accommodating changes in healthcare delivery models and the exponential growth of healthcare data.

Growing pains aren’t unique to people. Organizations of all types experience them as they attempt to stretch already strained resources to handle increased demands. Healthcare may be one of the most impacted industries with the influx of patient-generated health data and the growth of remote outpatient sites.

According to an IDC report, The Digitization of the World From Edge to Core, healthcare data is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36% through 2025. That’s enough data to fill 12 quadrillion miles worth notebook paper laid end to end, circling the earth 485 billion times! These organizations are struggling with how to store, manage, analyze, and secure the immense influx of information from established and ever-emerging technologies (i.e. EHR, digital imaging, IoMT, artificial intelligence, telemedicine, and wearables). As the volume continues to grow exponentially, they need a healthy infrastructure that can scale with it.

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While today’s healthcare organizations cannot afford to overprovision, they do need ways to add capacity quickly as needed. Like the human body’s skeletal system, their infrastructure must provide scalable, flexible, around-the-clock support and the highest level of protection as data and equipment are added.

Keys to building scalability and agility into your infrastructure:

  • Future proof your strategy with modular products that can support anticipated growth. Modular products give organizations the flexibility to grow as they go, reducing upfront costs and eliminating overprovisioning. Many modular products are available today, including:

    • Modular UPS. “Bricks” of power and battery modules can be added or removed according to output power requirements. These products not only support flexibility and scalability needed for edge applications, but also improve energy efficiency, serviceability, and availability at the same time.
    • High density modular cooling. As power demands increase, so do cooling requirements. Cooling solutions for high heat density systems are available in open or closed architecture, and pumped refrigerant-based or water-based technology. By using optional pre-charged flexible piping with threaded quick connect fittings, they allow for expansion without interruption of cooling operations.
    • Alternative thermal solutions. These solutions fit easily into racks within environments managing heat in small spaces and makes cooling possible in places where traditional equipment simply won’t fit. The Vertiv VRC offers the convenience of a plug and play solution with three heat rejection options, energy-efficient features, and scalable capacity, allowing IT managers to quickly add cooling when and where it’s needed.
    • Modular rack PDUs. Choose intelligent systems that easily integrate with your data center infrastructure management system, enabling yourself to stay on top of power usage and adapt to changing business needs as you grow.
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Considering the need for connectivity and visibility with each new asset you deploy, along with how those assets will be organized and protected within the space constraints of network closets, smart cabinets, or micro data centers, will help set the stage for effective monitoring and management of the distributed IT environment, a topic we will explore more deeply in our next post in this series. This not only supports more effective management of your current IT environment, it also gives you the ability to know where devices reside, how power is being used, and where space is available to simplify expansion planning.


To learn more about supporting growth at the healthcare edge, contact DVL to discover how our solutions are helping healthcare organizations achieve continuity for life.

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Topics: Data Center, efficient data center, hospitals, power distribution

The Connectivity and Reliability of Your Network's Central Nervous System

by Robert Leake on 9/23/20 1:49 PM

The second in a series of posts that explores the vital signs of a healthcare system’s digital and physical infrastructure, this blog takes a closer look at the connectivity and reliability of your network’s central nervous system—the digital infrastructure responsible for ensuring healthcare continuity.

The reliability of critical infrastructure is arguably the most important vital sign when it comes to ensuring continuity in healthcare. Functioning much like the human body’s central nervous system, your IT infrastructure must continuously communicate with, monitor, and protect power and thermal management systems in order to stop downtime before it happens, and ensure that patient data and medical equipment are always available when and where they are needed.

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As your healthcare system’s command and control center, your IT infrastructure is the link that connects medical staff with patient data. Its reliability is paramount as even a moment’s interruption could compromise so much.

Despite understanding the importance of improving network performance—a priority that is second only to ensuring data security and compliance, according to IDC’s 2019 Datacenter Operational Survey—downtime continues to be a big problem for data centers. Preventing downtime starts with creating a healthy and robust IT backbone, or central nervous system, that connects all components of your infrastructure.

Data Center

Healthcare organizations can succeed in doing this three ways:

1. Upgrade and optimize your legacy data center.

451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise 2019 Annual Data Center Survey shows that aging infrastructure and keeping up with infrastructure demands are the top critical infrastructure challenges for healthcare organizations. If you are looking for ways to optimize your legacy data center, it may be time to upgrade key components or invest in technologies or services that help you monitor and manage the health of your infrastructure. As you plan for these investments, keep these tips in mind:

  • Consider investing in a recommissioning process to help you identify areas for efficiency improvement and upgrades that will bring your legacy data center up to meet today’s challenges.
  • Integrate intelligent products and solutions where possible, increase visibility, access, and control; along with detecting and quickly correcting problems before they cause downtime.
  • Look for future-proof, intelligent UPS systems that cover the backup power and power quality needs of your IT infrastructure. The best solutions will check five boxes:
    1. Intelligent (network connectivity and monitoring capabilities)
    2. Energy-efficient
    3. Reliable
    4. Modular
    5. Easy-to-maintain
  • Choose thermal solutions that deliver the right cooling capacity while avoiding overcooling. Containment is another strategy that’s gaining traction, as it separates hot and cold airstreams to eliminate reconditioning the same air, thus boosting efficiency by 30% or more.Scenario08final
  • Monitoring and data analysis. Monitoring systems such as Vertiv™ Environet™ allow you to keep tabs on power and cooling systems and environmental conditions

2. Build new flexible, scalable, and efficient data centers.

As delivery networks expand and emerging technologies increase loads, organizations need more space to manage IT. If it’s the right time to invest in a new data center, it’s the prime opportunity to make choices that will help future-proof your healthcare IT strategy, including:

  • Select intelligent power, thermal management, and monitoring solutions as well as racks, power distribution, and enclosures. Set the stage for better visibility, control, and planning capabilities that improve performance throughout the lifecycle of your data center.
  • Take advantage of prefabricated solutions that can save time and money while still allowing for customization and monitoring
  • Standardize equipment from one vendor to reduce costs through increased buying power. It also streamlines buying processes, workflow procedures, training requirements, and often simplifies maintenance
  • Invest in commissioning support. Commissioning can give you peace of mind that your new facility is designed, installed, tested, and maintained in ways that optimize performance throughout your data center’s lifecycle.

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3. Ensure proper protection and management of assets housed in a colocation environment or the cloud.

According to the results of 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise survey, about two out of five healthcare organizations currently use cloud service providers, while just over a quarter rent space from a colocation provider. Most (70%) own and operate their own data centers.  However, it’s entirely possible to protect and manage assets even when they are stored off-premise. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Critical features to look for include intelligent, energy-efficient power and cooling technologies along with DCIM software to monitor the entire facility, fault-tolerant designs for backup power and cooling solutions, proper equipment maintenance practices, on-site technicians, and a solid understanding of HIPAA compliance.
  • Don’t make the mistake of relying on a ‘set it and forget it’ strategy. You can provide your cabinet equipped with features that improve security and efficiency, including biometric locks, smart PDUs that monitor power usage, and RFID technology that sends you alerts whenever an asset is accessed.
  • Hybrid cloud solutions can provide a way to tap into extra capacity for some assets. A recent article by Hit Infrastructure speaks to this growing trend, which allows companies to store different types of data in different locations based on how much bandwidth is required, the sensitivity of the information, and how often it needs to be accessed.

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Make sure your critical systems never miss a beat.

No matter where you choose to house your IT backbone, ensuring its health and viability is a must. With the right infrastructure solutions, you can create a powerful central nervous system that improves the connectivity and reliability of the digital infrastructure that powers your operations.

To learn more about protecting your IT backbone, contact DVL to discover how Vertiv solutions are helping more than 80% of U.S. healthcare systems achieve continuity for life. And be sure to stay tuned for our next post on growth at the healthcare edge.

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Topics: Data Center, efficient data center, healthcare, Resizing

Protect the IT Backbone: A Connected Network Nervous System

by Robert Leake on 9/16/20 1:12 PM

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For the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a Joint Blog Series with Vertiv that's focused on strategies to strengthen the IT Edge Network. While focusing in the world of Healthcare, the messages will resonate with anyone working within a distributed IT environment:

In many ways, the physical and IT infrastructure that make up Healthcare’s Edge environment is a lot like the human body. It is comprised of a complex network of systems and applications that have to work independently and collaboratively to support the ongoing health of your operations, and enable it to deliver life-saving work in increasingly distributed locations.

When you gain insight into the vital signs of this infrastructure—factors such as connectivity, efficiency, reliability, and scalability—you’ll better understand the solutions and support you need to keep your entire operation functioning at peak performance.


Achieving Continuity for Life

In this new blog post series, we explore these vital signs and offer insight into how your critical infrastructure systems function in much the same way as the amazing human body. As a trusted provider to more than 80% of healthcare systems across the country, Vertiv knows what it takes to maintain healthy, robust physical and IT infrastructure that supports healthcare continuity and the ongoing delivery of high-quality care upon which every person depends. To help healthcare leaders gain greater confidence in the availability and reliability of building systems, healthcare data, and medical equipment, DVL brings you Vertiv solutions that help you:

Protect the IT Backbone: A Connected Network Nervous System
Much like the central nervous system serves as the human body’s command and control center, coordinating all other body systems by receiving and sending information and signals, the IT backbone plays this role in your healthcare system. Future-ready digital infrastructure protects the critical path upon which your patient data travels, the equipment clinicians use each day, and the data center systems that power your business. Whether that IT backbone exists in a data center, a colocation environment, the cloud, or a combination thereof, Vertiv architects reliable, interoperable, and intelligent infrastructure in a scalable, cost-effective way to enable your healthcare system to meet future demands while operating seamlessly and ensuring the highest levels of continuity today.
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Grow the Healthcare Edge: A Strong Skeletal System
A skeleton provides structure, support, and protection for a system. It serves as a framework that defines what a system will ultimately look like and helps dictate the parameters and functionality of the system. As healthcare networks become increasingly distributed, moving to remote locations beyond the main hospital campus and incorporating new technologies such as IoMT sensors, telemedicine centers, and wearables, they require a healthy framework that enables infrastructure solutions to flex and scale to accommodate growth at the edge while maintaining reliability, efficiency, and compliance of healthcare operations.

Manage the New Distributed IT Infrastructure: A Robust Circulatory System
The circulatory system circulates blood and transports oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body while carrying away waste. As healthcare delivery becomes increasingly complex and distributed, with healthcare data growing exponentially and providers needing access to it in more and more remote locations, the need to securely send and receive data is paramount. Vertiv solutions protect your network connections through advanced visibility and access to distributed IT in locations ranging from network closets across the hospital to remote urgent care and telemedicine centers. At the same time, Vertiv solutions put your business leaders at the heart of the distributed network, providing a central engine for remote management, control, and analytics that fuels better decision making.

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Optimize Healthcare Operations: A Healthy Immune System

The immune system keeps people healthy. It’s what enables the body to protect and heal itself from diseases so that it can function at peak performance. Major healthcare systems must also be protected from a variety of ‘threats’ that can hinder continuity and jeopardize productivity, profitability, and compliance. These include factors such as aging physical infrastructure, rising energy costs, natural disasters, ever-changing regulatory requirements, a shortage of skilled workers, and lack of the right tools to manage increasingly distributed infrastructure. Vertiv helps healthcare systems develop their immunity and stay healthy with solutions that upgrade physical infrastructure and ensure clean, uninterrupted power. Through commissioning, electrical testing, and predictive and preventive maintenance of the power and cooling systems that protect your infrastructure, we help create efficient, safe environments that maximize the productivity of both people and equipment. We can help you actively plan for emergency response. And we can supplement your staff with our own team of experts. Our goal is to keep you compliant, drive down your costs, improve your workforce productivity, and extend the life of your critical building systems all while helping you maintain continuity of operations.
Dive deeper into your healthcare system’s vital signs.

Data Center
At DVL, we understand that even a moment’s interruption of your building systems, IT network, or medical equipment can compromise the delivery of care, undermine the patient experience, and even mean the difference between life or death. In future posts of this series, we’ll look more closely at the vital signs your physical and IT infrastructure must exhibit to safeguard against these interruptions along with the specific solutions Vertiv offers to keep your healthcare system healthy and ensure Continuity for Life.

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Topics: Data Center, efficient data center, IT, healthcare, mission-critical

Beyond the Product Service

by Jodi Holland on 7/28/20 8:22 AM

As the summer temperatures remain in the “highly uncomfortable range”, there is a tendency for Facilities Operators to be thinking more about their HVAC Systems. However, the concerns of these systems shouldn’t just be limited to our hottest season. The key to keeping your operations running smoothly year-round can be found in partnering a consistent strategy with an experienced Service team. This will allow you to maximize the lifecycle of your Thermal equipment, a goal of every facility.

When new HVAC equipment is installed, you might be thinking that since its brand new, you can just let it do its thing and be out of sight and out of mind since it doesn’t need to be maintained. Beware of this mistake. After start-up, it’s good to plan ahead for a short-term periodic assessment to baseline important details like temperature consistency and humidity levels assuring acceptable water and air qualities. In subsequent years, keeping the infrastructure properly maintained will allow for a longer equipment lifespan. At this point, the objective is to keep an efficiently running system and looking for signs of potential component failures down the road. It’s all about being proactive, and keeping a watchful eye provided by factory trained technicians.denver service team

The technicians you have serve and monitor your HVAC are a big variable in this equation. You may have members of your team capable of some functions, but it is highly recommended that you outsource a company that specializes in your type of equipment. At DVL, all technicians are factory trained on Vertiv™ Liebert® solutions and improve their product knowledge through continuing education opportunities provided by internal programs at both Vertiv and DVL. While there are many companies providing HVAC service, utilizing the expertise of a company that is focused on the specifics of your facility can have positive, far-reaching outcomes including a better understanding of ‘normal operations’ to a keener eye for trouble-shooting. 

Properly maintained equipment shouldn’t get to the point where it quits on you out of the blue. That’s why scheduled Preventative Maintenance is suggested on a quarterly basis. And in between those visits? Our DVL technicians aim to empower you, the equipment owner, to recognize potential issues that might lead to something worse down the line. Again, it’s all about being proactive. This can be achieved through simple steps such as walking the equipment footprint monthly or by checking certain monitored details at a predefined cadence.

These are just some of the tactics that can help extend an HVAC system’s lifespan, but how long of a service life are we talking? Sanja Motz, DVL’s Vice President of Service Operations, advises that a reasonable expectation is in the window of 12-15 years. Yes, this equipment (especially the Vertiv Liebert brands) is built to last many years; and our DVL services teams see some units out in the field that are 15 years strong “cooler than the other side of the pillow.” Still, even though your equipment might be mechanically sound, there does come a point of diminishing efficiency at which point you would be inevitably wasting money from how you manage the equipment. Less-efficient equipment will cost more money to operate, require more manpower to maintain, and will use more electricity compared to newer equipment being built today. If you consider rearchitecting to take advantage of the advancements in technology, which will yield greater efficiency, a proper analysis is recommended to review current performance details against any expected benefits of change. 

Vertiv Rooftop CondenserAdditionally, air quality is another major factor in HVAC operations and efficiency that you need to consider. This variable is impacted by both internal and external factors, and many people don’t think about half of their HVAC equipment being outdoors. The outside pieces of your infrastructure take a beating from the elements, atmosphere, animals, and even people. Indoor equipment brings focus onto the air filter, outdoor equipment emphasizes where the heat is being rejected. In the winter months it’s easier to reject the heat outside because the temperature differential is greater, but in the summer, when it’s hot and condensing temperatures around that same temperature, your equipment simply has to work harder to reject the heat. Therefore, this is the time when it’s most important to keep that equipment clean. Otherwise, compressors, which are usually the costliest part to replace and will require the most labor to install, start to fail.

Recently, Sanja sat down with Michael Hagan (Director of Thermal Services) and Matthew Hudspeth (Thermal Operations Lead Technician) on the DVL Power Hour webinar, Don't Lose Your Cool(ing) to discuss these topics, as well as their expert tips on how equipment owners can benefit from their own routine HVAC equipment checks. This includes providing insights into specific steps you can take in the summer to ensure outdoor debris and temperatures don’t hinder your critical infrastructure from operating at the highest possible reliability level.

In closing, be mindful that components of a successful maintenance program should include:

  • Checking/Replacing filters
  • Inspect Thermostat
  • Inspect for duct leaks
  • Lubricating Components
  • Cleaning Evaporator and Condenser Coils
  • Dampers, Fire, Virtual
  • Drain Pans, Blower Motor, Heat Exchanger
  • Refrigerant levels checked (leaks?), recharged (if needed)
  • Inspect Electrical Components
  • Fan motor and blades are inspected and lubricated
  • Control box, switches, wiring, and safety controls are inspected

Previously Recorded DVL Webinars

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Topics: efficient data center, HVAC, cooling, webinar

Selecting The Right Economizer

by Emerson Network Power on 12/9/15 2:19 PM

Written By: David Klusas, Emerson Network Power

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You can say what you want about mink farms, but one thing is certain: They stink!

That can be a problem if you’re operating a data center near one and trying to use airside economizers to bring in fresh outside air for free cooling.

There are many efficiency benefits to utilizing outside air for economization, but not every situation is right for bringing outside air into a data center. Each type of economizer has its own advantages and challenges, depending on data center goals, site requirements, geography and climate.

I recently visited four data centers, from Canada to Utah, including the one next to the mink farm, and found multiple occasions where airside economization was not the ideal solution, despite its energy savings.

One data center in Canada was near a heavily forested area, and the company was concerned about smoke from forest fires entering the facility. A data center in Washington was next to an apple orchard, which creates a lot of dust during harvest. Another is using 100% outside air for economization, but has an 8MW chiller plant for backup, in case they ever need to close the outside air dampers and recirculate the indoor air. That’s a HUGE initial investment for only a backup system.

Data centers have made cutting energy consumption a priority to save money and meet government regulations. Cooling accounts for almost 40 percent of data center energy usage, so it’s a main focal point for driving energy savings. More recently, water conservation has become a priority in the selection of cooling systems and economization strategies. At the same time, relative cost and the payback periods remain key factors in selecting these large, expensive systems.

All economizer systems use either outside air and/or water to reduce or eliminate mechanical cooling in data center cooling units. These economizer systems generate significant energy savings of up to 50 percent, compared to legacy systems. The first decision most data center managers make in selecting an economization strategy is the type of data center environment they want to operate, which naturally then leads to a decision on whether or not to bring outside air into the data center. As a result, there are two primary economizer designs typically deployed in data centers: direct and indirect.

While direct and indirect economizers operate in different ways, the ultimate goal of both systems is to provide free cooling to a room or facility, thus reducing the overall energy consumption of the facility. However, fundamental differences between the methods in which direct and indirect systems economize greatly impact the temperature and humidity environment that can be efficiently maintained within the data center.

Direct economization brings outside air into the data center using a system of ductwork, dampers, and sensors. These systems usually have lower capital costs than other forms of economization and work well in moderate climates. In the right climate, direct outside air economizers can be very efficient and an effective economization strategy, but do introduce the risk for contaminants and wide humidity swings into the data center. For maximum annual savings, a wide acceptable supply air temperature and humidity window needs to be implemented in the data center. For highly critical data centers, the risk of outdoor contaminants and wide temperature and humidity swings is sometimes too significant for comfort.

In contrast, indirect economizers can offer significant energy savings while limiting the prior concerns. Indirect economizers do not bring outside air into the data center, but instead use an indirect method to transfer heat from the data center to outside the building. There are primarily three types of indirect economizer technologies:
• Air-to-air heat exchangers, or heat wheels, in a wet or dry state
• Pumped refrigerant economizers, such as the Liebert® DSE™ system economizer
• Cooling towers for chilled water systems

Sensible air-to-air plate frame heat exchangers transfer heat between two air streams, but maintain a complete separation, thus eliminating the opportunity for contamination and transfer of humidity into the data center space. These units can be operated in a dry state, or can be sprayed with water to increase their effectiveness and hours of economization. Heat wheels offer similar qualities to air-to-air plate frame heat exchangers, but can have higher air leakage rates and require additional maintenance to maintain their performance.
The Liebert DSE system is a direct-expansion (DX) system that utilizes an integrated pumped refrigerant economizer to maximize annual energy savings and provide superior availability without the need for separate economization coils. When outdoor ambient temperatures are low enough, the integrated refrigerant pump is used to circulate the refrigerant in lieu of the compressor to maintain the desired supply air temperature. The refrigerant pump uses a faction of the energy used by the compressor. As the outdoor ambient temperatures rise, the Liebert DSE system automatically transitions on compressors to maintain the desired supply air temperature. Its integrated Liebert iCOM™ thermal controls work to automatically optimize the entire system to provide more free-cooling throughout the year.

Because of its efficiency advantages, the Liebert DSE system was recently approved for use in California data centers under Title 24. Its economizer was shown to reduce time dependent valuation (TDV) by 8-10 percent and, since it uses no water, save around 4 million gallons of water annually in a 1MW data center, compared to water economizers.

Initial installation costs for any of these economizer options can be affected by how well the technology under consideration fits into the overall design of the existing facility. The amount of indoor, outdoor or rooftop space required for situating the units will affect the selection decision. Chilled water systems with cooling towers tend to be the most costly, because of the high system first cost, use of water and a higher maintenance burden relating to their complexity.

Emerson Network Power offers options for all of these economizer technologies. There is no single economizer technology that fits every situation. Each has its own strengths based on location and application, and each has its challenges.   Fortunately, there’s an economization option for virtually every location – even next to a mink farm.

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Topics: CUE, Emerson Network Power, Data Center, data center energy, efficient data center, DVL, UPS, Thermal Management, DCIM, energy efficiency, preventative maintenance, 7x24, Economizer

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