CAPRE’s 2019 Data Center & Cloud Infrastructure Forecast East: Q&A with Michael Phillips, BTECH
DULLES, VA — Michael Phillips is the Director of Business Development at BTECH, Inc. located in Rockaway, NJ, where he is focused on transforming the way emergency power, specifically: the battery system is managed across a wide range of industries including Data Centers, Telecommunications and Utilities. Founded 30 years ago in classic startup style – in the founder’s basement – BTECH has proven itself to be the benchmark against which other battery monitoring and management solutions have tried to measure themselves. Below we caught up with BTECH in preparation for CapRE’s upcoming 2019 Data Center Forecast East on January 31 to learn more about what BTECH will contribute to the conversation.
CapRE: Thanks for chatting with us today, Mike. What’s the latest at BTECH?
Phillips: On the product development front, our focus isn’t so much on hardware, although, we are working on some interesting, next-gen stuff; but on the software side- we’ve developed tools that have been rolled out to some of our larger customers, to enable better management of multiple hardware devices behind one firewall. We also have developed several applications that help manage a battery asset through its entire life cycle. This allows our customers to optimize their overall investment in batteries. We are also excited about something we call Reserve Power Management or RPM – how do we package all that we can do to help customers manage and monitor their battery systems and use it to create one comprehensive solution that can stay with a system from cradle to grave.
Battery monitoring is more than just collecting data. It’s creating an action plan around what to do with the data. That’s everything from making sure the battery system is reliable and safe, but also leveraging that data as a financial tool to identify where you’re going to need to replace batteries and how to forecast for future battery needs.
Phillips: There’s been a lot of consolidation over the last five to seven years, many of the small to midsize enterprise accounts have now moved their operations to a wholesale colocation or other type of larger commercial data center supplier. That has changed the nature of it. If you don’t make a concerted effort to supply product and services to the big wholesale operators, then you’re going to struggle to be relevant.
CapRE: So how does energy efficiency come into play with all of this?
Phillips: In battery monitoring, there’s not really an efficiency play, other than things like predictability and proactive battery management which can lead to some energy efficiencies. Battery systems can fail without warning and be inherently unreliable. That’s why customers spend a lot of money to monitor them, to make sure they are reliable and capable of delivering power when required. Wholesale or commercial data center operators are selling power, reliability, IT services etc. Our products are in support of that: BTECH systems will extend battery life, ensure that the batteries do the job they were designed to do when they’re called upon and reduce unnecessary maintenance.
If a customer incorporates our battery monitoring solution into their facility operation and follows the best practices prescribed by BTECH, those facilities will benefit from more equipment availability and consequently, less service downtime. Facilities will manage less MOPS, there will be fewer unplanned service visits and the overall safety of the facility will be improved. By using BTECH’s solutions to manage their battery assets as well as leveraging our forecasting and AI features, a customer will gain an efficiency that’s just not possible without battery monitoring.
CapRE: So what should attendees at CapRE’s 2019 Data Center Forecast East know about BTECH?
Phillips: BTECH’s product is the benchmark for the industry. BTECH is one of the few independent full-service suppliers in the market. Most of our competitors are hardware purveyors. For instance, we offer remote monitoring to the customer, which means that we’ll collect the data, analyze it and make it actionable for them. Very few of our competitors have that kind of capability. None of them have the battery asset management and forecasting tools that BTECH has – most of our competitors produce an alarm that tells you that you have a problem. There’s no real focus on creating something comprehensive that can really deliver value in terms of efficiently managing the entire battery asset.
We are looking forward to touching base with some of our customers and partners, a CapRE event is the perfect opportunity to meet with folks outside of the day-to-day facility responsibilities. The CapRE events allow BTECH to engage the industry in what’s new and novel. And since edge computing and edge data centers have come up a lot, I’m excited to hear more about how that data center product is going to evolve.
CapRE: And what’s next for BTECH?
Phillips: Next year, BTECH will supply over one thousand systems to one particular customer… that is significant, and it is indicative of how, not just this particular customer, but how many companies are seeing tremendous value in solutions that help them eliminate risk and mitigate any perception of degraded customer service. In basic terms, we’ll be collecting over 480,000 data points on a daily basis. And that’s just one customer – we do that for many. BTECH collects, manages, and reports on a lot of data!
And the challenge with collecting a lot of data in the data center, whether you’re talking about storage, servers, power, UPS, whatever, is: What do you do with it? So, what’s different is that we collect data around how the battery is performing, based on maintenance intervals and our own monitoring and measuring. Then we bring our algorithms to bear on top of that data to actually make it useful….actionable. The information or the intel, that the user is seeing is about what’s going on with my batteries? how long are they going to last? That kind of data is actually helpful. One of the things that sets BTECH apart is that we’re not a set limit product, We’re a rate of change product. Our goal is to tell a customer that they’re going to have an issue before they have it – before they ever cross that critical threshold.
CapRE: So, any final words on Battery Monitoring?
BTECH: I guess I would say that batteries are different, certainly they’re different from everything else in the data center. From a DCIM perspective, if I have a UPS that goes offline or a breaker that opens, it’s very definable… very black and white as to what has to happen next. If I have a several batteries across a group of UPS modules in alarm, the way I react to it is not the same. If I have one bad battery among 160, it’s not the same as if the whole UPS is offline. So, we spend a lot of time educating our customers about when they do have time and when they don’t have time. Our product is a combination of tracking long-term trends, as well as providing real-time immediate notifications.
CapRE: Got it. Thanks Mike. We’ll see you at CapRE’s 2019 Data Center Forecast East!
BTECH’s battery monitoring solution, made up of hardware, software and services is truly predictive- it enables companies to remain up and online 99.999% of the time, it identifies unhealthy batteries at the unit level before they have a chance to become a problem and it informs the way battery assets are managed, so a company’s overall battery asset investment is contained and improved.