OnRamp Access, an Austin-based data center operations company, provides colocation services to businesses in the Texas region that cannot afford the potential loss of power projected by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) as energy use in the state continues to reach new heights. A recent study released by ERCOT, the grid operator for most of Texas, anticipates potential electricity shortages within the coming decade as a result of the insufficiencies in power output and increased demand expected for the region in the next few years. In 2011, ERCOT narrowly avoided power grid failure by rotating outages in the winter and issuing six conservation alerts when summer heat reached record highs.
The “Capacity, Demands and Reserves (CDR) Report”, released by ERCOT in late May 2012, predicts a decreased electric generation capacity and higher peak demand of energy usage by as early as 2014. This creates a lower target planning reserve margin than required by 2010’s standards for contingencies, which includes positive economic status and high summer temperatures as catalysts for increased energy consumption. The cause for concern is the related brownouts and potential blackouts associated with a power grid under such stresses. To heighten the severity of this situation, ERCOT believes this problem will worsen in the following year and continue in a trend of increasingly negative reserve margins foreseeably until 2022. As in the case of the outages experienced last year, server downtime translates to missed revenue opportunity for businesses running e-commerce websites and major concerns for healthcare providers in need of accessing critical patient data in an emergency. OnRamp’s state-of-the-art data center was designed with redundancy, reliability and security in mind, enabling it to withstand extensive power outages. These considerations allow OnRamp to offer colocation customers a 100% uptime guarantee.
“Without an adequate supply of power, it is hard to guarantee the reliability of systems and accessibility of data maintained through an ‘in-house’ data storage operation,” said OnRamp’s Founder Chad Kissinger. “OnRamp boasts several advantages in the maintenance and delivery of power required for its client’s racks, which provides assurance for its customers considering the future straining of the power grid expected from the region.”
The individual components which support the data center’s operation allow the company to mitigate risks of power fluctuations, such as brownouts, for its clients. All distortions to utility power are removed by sending them through one of OnRamp’s Uninterruptable Power Sources (UPSs) to undergo a double conversion process. This ensures that electrical output power from the UPS is completely clean, computer grade power. In addition, OnRamp uses Power Distribution Units (PDUs) to act as step down transformers and circuit breakers to provide basic shock protection to these systems.
While other data centers and many “in-house” data storage facilities account only for enough backup power to ensure their servers remain up and running, OnRamp maintains its complete environment with enough backup power supply to keep the entire data center functioning in the event of temporary power loss. This means, with record breaking summertime temperatures, OnRamp is prepared to keep its clients’ systems completely stable by meeting both power infrastructure and cooling needs.
OnRamp is fed from a high priority power substation dedicated to serving the AMD Semiconductor factory, the VA Hospital, and the new Austin Energy control center. In addition to this advantage, the company operates at an (n+1) level of redundancy, meaning it provides a minimum of one additional critical mechanical component for each of its power, A/C, internet connectivity, network connections and various other systems. This enables the company to remove a single component for service and repairs while continuously running its operation at full capacity 24/7/365.