Laurens County Schools leverage the Eaton power protection solution to ensure always-on technology.

Eaton Guest Blogger

November 21, 2022

4 Min Read
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Throughout Laurens County Schools, technology is a vital partner for students and staff, promoting effective learning in nearly every subject. That’s why, when the district was preparing to refresh its fleet of uninterruptible power systems (UPSs) in 2020, the ability to deliver continuous uptime was paramount. In addition to sustaining critical infrastructure and applications — including digital learning, data-driven instruction, online testing, cloud applications and other requirements — the district also wanted to make sure it could properly support students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Downtime just isn’t an option in schools today. Access to always-on technology is fundamental to learning, and clean power is a prerequisite to achieving that,” said Lance Smith, Director of Technology, Laurens County Schools, in Georgia.

Having been plagued by routine UPS battery failures, Laurens County Schools sought a solution that could facilitate high availability and reliability with no interruptions in service. In addition, the district wanted the ability to remotely monitor its UPSs and receive alerts about potential issues. They also desired power distribution units (PDUs) with the capability of measuring power consumption at the outlet level.

“Power issues can come in many forms, and over the years, we noticed that various incidents ── from inclement weather to increased demand ── were causing fluctuations in the power being fed into our schools,” explains Smith. “We needed a solution we could count on to provide unparalleled uptime regardless of the power condition.”

Across all nine of the Laurens County Schools campuses, students rely on technology to perform day-to-day learning activities, from visiting educational websites to participating in state-mandated online testing. The pandemic spurred uptime requirements to an even more critical level, as students required access to the district’s network to engage in distance learning. Students are each assigned a device as part of a 1-to-1 technology program, so the district supports upward of 7,000 Chromebooks.

“Whether we are conducting online testing or supporting student laptops during class, our network infrastructure must be operating at 100%. It is absolutely essential that all students have a good testing experience. Nothing can impact that,” said Smith.

Uptime as Easy as ABC

At the recommendation of its service provider, Grainger Technology Company, Laurens County Schools replaced its previous UPS solution with one from a different manufacturer: Eaton. The district began by deploying a 12kVA Eaton 9PXM UPS to safeguard the transfer switch of its backup generator, as well as to protect multiple servers, core network switching and security cameras. The scalable, modular UPS combines the highest levels of reliability and the lowest total cost of ownership, with a patented design that allows the district to add capacity or redundancy and increase runtime as its power needs change. In addition to offering plug-and-play power and battery modules that are lightweight and user-replaceable, the 9PXM boasts a small footprint that can easily be converted for rack installation.

To support uptime in the network closets throughout its campuses, Laurens County Schools chose the Eaton 5P UPS. Rolling out a total of 53 units, the district placed a 3000VA UPS within each main distribution frame (MDF) and a 2200VA model in every intermediate distribution frame (IDF). The enterprise-class backup power solution — which can be deployed in a tower, wall-mount or rackmount configuration — is primarily tasked with protecting network switches throughout the schools, as well as access door controllers and intercom systems.

Laurens County Schools has been especially impressed by Eaton’s exclusive ABM technology, which has solved its previous battery failure issues. ABM not only increases the service life of UPS batteries by 50%, but also provides the fastest safe recharge time and reliable advanced notice when batteries need replacement.

“The technology behind Eaton ABM has afforded exceptional reliability and gotten us away from constant UPS battery failures,” noted Smith.

Complementing the UPS fleet are 20 Eaton-managed rack PDUs, which provide information at the outlet receptacle level on critical factors such as voltage, current and power factor. The units also feature remote on/off outlet switching that allows rebooting of connected equipment, as well as the ability to turn off outlets to prevent unauthorized use.

The district completed its backup power solution by pairing the Eaton Gigabit Network Card (Network-M2) with every UPS. The communication card, the first in the industry to comply with the UL and IEC cybersecurity standards, provides remote monitoring and management of all connected equipment through Eaton’s Intelligent Power Management (IPM) disaster avoidance software. Part of the Brightlayer Data Centers suite, IPM provides tools to monitor and manage all power devices on the district’s network, ensuring system uptime and data integrity. Both the HTML5-based software and the PDUs are managed as a service for Laurens County Schools by Grainger Technology Group.

With the Eaton solution, Laurens County Schools has been able to:

  • Achieve high availability and continuous uptime• Successfully support all of its technology initiatives• Remotely manage and monitor all connected devices throughout its network environment• Extend battery life and optimize battery health with ABM technology

“It’s been great,” said Smith. “We’ve experienced zero downtime and no problems. We couldn’t be happier with the Eaton solution.”

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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