Show Report: CeBIT 2002

PC Magazine Labs' director of operations, Craig Ellison, fills you in on what's happening abroad.

CeBIT Hannover is the worlds biggest trade show for information and telecommunications technology. This week hundreds of thousands are expected at the show. Heres some of what we saw in and around the show. We even fit in a quick trip to Denmark.

On Tuesday, a group of journalists traveled to American Power Conversions (APC) facility in Denmark. (A few years back APC bought Silcon, a Danish company that makes the large, three-phase UPSs.) On this trip, APC introduced its new product line—PowerStruXure.

Briefly, PowerStruXure is a scalable power infrastructure that seamlessly integrates APCs rack-mounted UPSs using PowerStruXure Power Distribution Units (PDUs) and the companys line of NetShelter VX rack enclosures. A cable-management system ties the whole thing together and an integrated software suite runs it all.

The idea is that you can build out a data center or LAN closet on a scalable, pay-as-you-go basis. Many data centers are built out with a power infrastructure designed to handle the anticipated power demands of a facility for its life. The problem with this is that you build based on a forecast, which is often wrong, and you tend to overcompensate. With the PowerStruXure architecture, you can quickly deploy an N, or N+1, or 2N facility in modular pieces that can grow as your data center expands.

APC demonstrated an N+1 fault-tolerant power system for 40KW as an example. This configuration included five 10KW power modules, a PDU, and a series of NetShelter VX racks, with power distribution of up to 6KW/rack. This is currently about the worst case of power consumption that youll see in a standard rack cabinet thats loaded up with 42 1U servers. The cable management runs along the top of the cabinet. The 40KW module of racks can be duplicated as many times as required to build out a data center, but with this architecture, you can add racks as demand grows, rather than investing the capital up front to build out a power infrastructure for, say, a 200KW data center. According to APC, 95 percent of data centers fall in the range of 10KW to 200KW.

Speed of deployment is also another advantage of the PowerStruXure architecture. In a taped demonstration, APC showed a fully populated 40KW data center being constructed and brought online in about 4 and a half hours. With this architecture, the design time and cost of a power infrastructure are also dramatically reduced. A side benefit is a standard design thats easy to replicate and build in multiple data centers.

APC launched PowerStruXure at CeBIT, and is doing a simultaneous launch in the United States.

The first day of CeBIT was interesting—cold and gray with drizzling rain, but according to CeBIT veterans, thats not all that unusual. CeBIT consists of 27 exhibit halls, each stuffed full of vendors with products on display (cebit_sign.jpg). The show grounds seemingly stretch on forever. With over 8,000 vendors exhibiting, its impossible to see more than a fraction of them.

Were staying in a hotel about 40 miles outside of Hannover. Many people stay even further out because there just arent any rooms available any closer. According to its Web site, CeBIT had over 800,000 attendees last year. It doesnt seem that crowded this year, but then again, the grounds are huge.

Check out our slide show to view the products we saw both in Denmark and Germany.