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Are you Appropriately Monitoring your Data Center Power?
It’s a question that has been dominating the news for months now and has become a hot-button topic for data center managers – how can you successfully monitor your data center and increase efficiencies?
According to many industry experts, one of the chief places to start is by taking a look at your data center power – and they don’t just mean looking at you total room power consumption.
“What we see in the industry is that a lot of people measure ambient temperature, humidity and high levels of power and while that’s a good thing it leaves out a lot of questions,” Marc Eisenberg, senior sales engineer at Server Technology (News - Alert), a company that produces data center monitoring technologies, told TMCnet. “Let’s say that the total room power consumption is 10kva. It’s important to look at how each cabinet makes up that bigger number. What we need to figure out is what level do we need to break down the monitoring capability in order to make the big numbers useful.”
“As an industry, we need to start to measure PDU utilization and compare that to power consumption, because just like in our cars, there’s a sweet spot in which you can put your foot on the accelerator and get power from the engine to get going as fast as you can go, “ he added. “The same thing goes for a server. There’s a time and place where a server can be consuming so much energy and not actually doing any extra work.”
Those that only measure total room data center power consumption are at risk of not being able to determine whether a server is idle, over-running or somewhere in between. And the biggest danger associated with not being able to detect server idleness is that data center managers can assume that they know when a server has become idle, and that is not always the case, according to Eisenberg.
For example, one server at idle might be 100 Watts whereas another could be 150. If managers go in with the assumption that idle servers are 100 Watts and one of the servers is running at 150, they might miss the fact that that server is idle.
“At the end of the day, we use the PDU to take out one key component in data center design today and that’s assumption,” Eisenberg said. “We need to change the definition of assumption to actual usage.”
One of the biggest problems that can arise without properly managing data center power, however, is that managers can end up over provisioning the data center.
According to Eisenberg, when we talk about power in the data center there are two different thought trains – the redundant IT manager and the green IT manager.
“The redundant manager is good because he is going to build a data center with enough power to run in normal scenarios and if there is a failover, to fail over well,” Eisenberg said. “The problem is that he’s over provisioned the data center… The redundant data center manager is also the same guy who year in and year out is asking for more power.”
“If he were to look at the actual power consumption, he would start to figure out that circuit A has X amount of stranded energy, and by being able to monitor actual usage and being able to see how things react in normal situations, we are able to reclaim power by monitoring it in the first place.”
Conversely, the green IT manager is the guy who differentiates between what the data center was designed to do, what it actually is doing and what it can do. This manager is able to reallocate energy by not tying it up elsewhere.
While the green IT manager might not be the more “popular” guy, according to Eisenberg, he is the one that should be praised.
Green IT managers focus on how to get more with less and in today’s world that is particularly important. In fact, although the U.S. has energy 24/7, the fact remains that there are many countries in this world that don’t have access to enough energy. Accordingly, it is very important in the U.S. to gain efficiencies when possible and properly monitor data center power.
“We take a lot for granted here in this country and we shouldn’t,” Eisenberg said. “We need to be able to do more with what we have because we are consuming more than we should. A tool like Server Technology’s power strip, or anyone else’s power strip that tells us what is being consumed, will really help us understand where we are at and allow us to ask the question of why. Why are we consuming?”
“Before we ask for more power, let’s figure out why we are using it and where we are using it,” he added.
Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf
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