Demand for uninterruptible power supply (UPS) solutions is surging in the Western Cape, particularly among small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as businesses try to cushion themselves from the impact of unreliable electricity supply.

UPS solutions allow a business to continue working and save documents for a period of time after the Eskom power has cut out.

“Our demand has increased by 25% to 30% in the last two or three months,” says Tim van Niekerk, product manager for UPS vendor APC at Westcon (one of its distributors).

Another vendor, MGE Systems, claims year-on-year comparisons for the first quarter show sales have more than doubled since early 2005. MGE sold almost 3 000 entry-level UPS solutions between January and March this year – many of which have been in the Cape, says IT channel manager Christelle Larkins.

“SMEs make up a large percentage [of our channel distributors' clients],” she adds.

Surges, spikes, blackouts

“Clients are turning to their suppliers for help in managing their power needs in the face of surges, spikes and blackouts,” states Van Niekerk.

A UPS solution will also allow those who have backup generators to prepare the machines and then switch over without the network connections or other “critical applications” being lost, he explains.

Van Niekerk advises companies to take several factors into account when choosing UPS solutions, including their current electricity load, how many users and computers are on the network, and which elements of the network the UPS should support – servers, switches, routers or storage devices.

He adds that businesses should also consider how much uptime they will need in the case of a power failure to allow users to save their work, shut down systems and avoid corruption or loss of data.