UPS meets new network technology

The recently standardized power-over-Ethernet (POE) approach is getting a boost from an old standby: uninterruptible power supplies.

POE, as the name implies, provides power via Ethernet cables. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. ratified POE as a standard called 802.3af last year. POE facilitates voice-over-IP deployments because it eliminates the need to plug IP phones into electrical outlets. The approach removes electrical wiring and outlet installation costs from the voice-over-IP equation.

Where do uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) come into play? With POE, organizations that use UPS to protect local-area networks can also use the battery backup system to protect voice-over-IP equipment. Similarly, surveillance cameras running on the network can benefit from UPS.

"POE and UPS are complementary technologies," said Richard Bauer, president of PowerDsine Inc., a POE technology vendor. In a POE/UPS scenario, an organization deploys an Ethernet switch with an integrated POE chip or a midspan device that contains a POE integrated circuit and works in tandem with a conventional Ethernet switch, Bauer said. A UPS device is attached to the switch or to both the switch and midspan.

Thus attached, the UPS provides a single point of backup for power in case of brownouts or power outages, Bauer said.

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