Ensuring that businesses have power protection for critical applications is vital to prevent disruptions to day-to-day operations. For small-to-medium business (SMB) owners, it’s really a matter of when, not if, you’re going to encounter a power disruption. As the graphic below makes clear, outages may be more frequent than you think, with one-third of companies experiencing some downtime every month and nearly all having lost access to critical systems at some point. Perhaps most disturbing is comparing the average length of downtime per incident, 22 hours, with the fact that 83% of companies have a downtime tolerance of 3 hours or less. Clearly, it’s a situation that warrants attention through UPS management.

Downtime Risks

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a common, effective way to protect critical systems in the event of a power disruption, whether it’s a prolonged outage or just a blip that can nonetheless damage sensitive machines such as computers and cash registers. UPSs provide backup power that can keep critical equipment up and running during relatively short outages and allow you to safely power them down in the event of a longer outage. Or, in cases where a backup generator is available, after a power failure the UPS can keep systems running until the generator starts.

As power protection is vital, the need for a reliable UPS is key. Staying informed on the health of your UPS allows you to make proactive decisions that maximize the uptime of your system, which is why it is so important to select the most appropriate UPS management solution for your business.

A question we get from many SMB customers centers on the difference between the monitoring and management capabilities of our UPS products. All APC Smart-UPS are EcoStruxureTM Ready, via two options: an ethernet port on the back of the device known as the SmartConnect Port or the UPS Network Management Card (NMC). This blog post will walk you through these two options and the key benefits of both.

To get started, take our interactive quiz, which will help select the monitoring solution best for your business needs.

EcoStruxureTM Ready Smart-UPSTM using the SmartConnect Ethernet Port

Most Smart-UPS models 3kVA and below have built-in cloud connectivity via the Port on the back of the device.

SMC1500C
SMC1500C
SMC1500-2UC B
SMC1500-2UC

This cloud-monitoring option is very simple to set up; plug the UPS into utility power, connect it to your network through the Port and scan the QR code printed on the device. Its out-of-the-box simplicity means you don’t even need networking knowledge to set it up, keeping costs to a minimum. In minutes you’ll have accessed the secure EcoStruxureTM Ready Smart-UPSTM (formally SmartConnect) web portal.

The web portal can be accessed using any web browser on desktop or mobile devices ensuring you stay up-to-date on the health of your UPS. You will receive automated email alerts about your UPS status, UPS firmware upgrades, maintenance suggestions and warranty or battery expiration notices.

Over 70% of customers who use this option today monitor just one UPS, proving that this feature really resonates with small business owners, who have relatively simple power management requirements, little to no IT staff and want peace of mind.

EcoStruxureTM Ready Smart-UPSTM using the UPS Network Management Card

An alternative UPS monitoring option is the UPS Network Management Card which, depending on your UPS model, could be already embedded or pre-installed, or alternatively you can purchase it separately and insert it in the SmartSlot of your UPS.

NMC installed in SmartSlot of SE-AP9640_1400
NMC AP9640 installed in SmartSlot

The NMC enables you to connect the UPS to your company network. The NMC web interface provides monitoring, control and configuration options for a single UPS and is accessible on your company network or remotely via VPN (if your business has one). This differs from the built-in cloud monitoring where you can access the web portal from anywhere even without VPN (just like any website).

For Edge, Distributed IT and larger data center environments, customers can use the UPS NMC to connect to EcoStruxure IT Expert via a dedicated gateway. EcoStruxure IT Expert provides device agnostic centralized monitoring, alarm consolidation, configuration and control options for these environments.

The NMC also supports standard industry protocols such as Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) for network management tools and BACnet for building management systems (BMS). These protocols enable local or remote management and configuration of the UPS via a secure connection to your third-party management tool of choice.

The NMC also supports PowerChute™ Network Shutdown software, which provides graceful unattended shutdown for servers, virtualized or hyperconverged (HCI) infrastructure in the event of a power outage, reducing the risk of data loss or corruption.

Next Steps for EcoStruxure Ready Smart-UPS

From August 2020, EcoStruxure IT Expert customers will also be able to monitor Smart-UPS using the Port in addition to the NMC and Gateway option. This is ideal for customers who have a mixed Smart-UPS environment including our entry level SMC Smart-UPS that don’t have a SmartSlot.

This flexibility ensures customers have an option to suit every UPS management need. If basic monitoring is a requirement in some sites, then using the Port meets these requirements whereas the NMC option gives you additional control and configuration; for example, if you need to reboot UPSs in more remote environments.

Deciding on the Best UPS Management Option

For simple, out-of-box UPS cloud monitoring, the built-in Port using the EcoStruxure Ready Smart-UPS web portal will meet your requirements and give you the peace of mind that you need.

For businesses with larger IT installations, EcoStruxure IT Expert provides additional power management capabilities. The NMC via the EcoStruxure Gateway enables configuration, management and control options. In mixed environments where some UPSs require monitoring only, EcoStruxure IT Expert customers can monitor these devices via the SmartConnect Port.

To find out exactly what the best option for your business is take our interactive quiz (above).