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Enough Data Center Management Ideas to Make Your Head Spin

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Gento  |  Comment (0)

Data Center ManagementI’ve been back from the GreenGrid Forum 2013 for over a week now, but the insights I formed there are still making my head spin.

Early on, the GreenGrid was focused on keeping data centers cool. We all remember when walking into a data center was like stepping into a refrigerator. Now that is changing. Most IT equipment can now operate reliably at much higher temperatures. So this improved the PUE of data centers without having excessive cooling.

Now, in the age of Petabyte of data being processed, a key theme at the conference was resource efficiency among huge array of compute equipment. To achieve this, we are all now focusing on more granular management. No more refrigerator approach. Now data center managers are looking for efficiencies down at the rack and device level. Take servers for instance.

Consumers of power in a server:

  1. Server processors
  2. Memory
  3. Discs or PCI slots
  4. The motherboard
  5. The fan
  6. Networking interconnects

A GreenGrid study that was of great interest to me focused on the power required for different CPU utilization in data center servers from idle state to active state. When this state changes, the jump in energy draw is dramatic.

The main difference in power consumption between an idle server and an active one is based on the spinning of the disc when the server must move the read-write head. The differential in power utilization from idle to active is about 30%. You can see that in the chart above.

CPU utilization studies have shown that many servers sit idle for large periods of time. But even in that idle state, they spin. And the chart above shows that they are still consuming a large amount of power. The GreenGrid paper suggested segregating servers so that some development and build servers should be isolated and shut down completely when not in use. Backup servers are usually only needed at nighttime when the devices they’re backing up are idle. During the day, they could be shut down.

Another great example in the GreenGrid presentation was a server farm running 10 servers that are utilized only 50% each on average (we suspect your utilization will be even less). Five servers utilized at 100% would be exponentially more energy efficient. The question is, how to understand what each of your servers is doing on a granular level.

How to gather granular data and manage your data center power

Power IQ is our energy management component of Raritan’s DCIM solution, and it helps your data center become dramatically more energy efficient. Here is a partial list of what this pro-active software solution can do:

  • User configurable dashboard
  • Agentless graceful shutdown of Windows®, Linux® and Unix® device groups
  • Psychrometric chart to calculate possible energy savings from simply increasing temperature
  • Energy cost bill-back reports to drive behavior
  • Decommission flags to forecast energy savings when eliminating servers
  • Baseline consumption and changes of various energy saving initiatives
  • Capture peak loads under compute stress to identify excess power capacity in the rack
  • Power capacity forecast charts
  • Power capacity utilization gauges
  • Smart Rack View with Quick Charts

Looking through that list, you can see why Raritan is excited to be in the right place at the right time. We are leaders in intelligent power management for the data center thanks to our intelligent rack power distribution units and our powerful energy management software.

Click here to read the Green Grid White Paper

Click here to learn more about Raritan data center power management solutions


Deploying High Power at the Rack Webinar - April 25th

Posted on April 10, 2013 by Gento  |  Comment (0)

High-power requirements for data centers include racks filled with 1U “pizza box” servers or multiple blade server chassis in one rack. Network storage devices can also drive high demand for power.

Many data center managers are doing a good job conserving energy but, average power consumption at the rack may still go up. In fact, the increased efficiency means more power is available to support data center growth. This webinar will examine how to determine and design for peak actual power demand and the most efficient and reliable approaches for delivering power, especially when deploying blade servers.

Date: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM ET
Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/829819449


3-phase, 208V Power Strips (Rack PDUs) Demystified, Part II : Understanding Capacity

Posted on April 9, 2013 by Gento  |  Comment (0)

Despite the growing ubiquity of 3-phase power distribution (at 208V) in North American data centers, data center operators are still not sufficiently fluent with the real-world capacity implications of 3-phase power in their cabinets.

at-the-blackboard

The principal reason is because—at 208V—the math required to understand 3-phase power distribution at the cabinet is completely counter-intuitive.

THE TWO MOST COMMON QUESTIONS I GET are some form of the following:

 

  • On a single-phase power strip, I was able to power 10 servers. So how many will I be able to plug into this three-phase power strip? 30?
  • I have a three-phase, 30A power strip. Does that mean I can have up to 30amps on each of the three phases of the power strip? That is, 90A total?


Whatever you think is reasonable in your head is, in fact, not actually the way it works. So the answer to both of the above questions is, “no”.

In a previous post, I attempted to explain at a lower-level the reasons why this is true—including a link to a very useful Excel spreadsheet to help you calculate 3-phase rack PDU loading and capacity planning..

But I realize that most people are like me (lazy). You don’t need to know the electrical rationale for the counter-intuitive math, you just need to know the answers! So in this post you will find just the main information you need to do simple capacity planning (without explaining the reasons why). I guess I really should have posted this first. Whoops!

THE SHORT VERSION: 2 Primary Tips

1. If you don’t totally, 100% understand 3-phase power distribution, it is best if you do NOT think or speak in terms of amps. In all likelihood, you will say something incorrect that confuses your electrician.

Instead, think about how many watts your equipment consumes, and how many watts your 3-phase power strip can provide. Watts are universally comparable, regardless of the supplied electrical configuration available at your rack: both your power strip manufacturer and your IT equipment vendor will tell you how many watts can be supplied. No matter what voltage you use; the rated current (amps); or whether you have 1-phase power or 3-phase power; etc… you can always compare watts.

If you absolutely must think using amps (i.e., “My Dell salesperson says this server will draw a maximum of 1.4A; and that’s all he will tell me.”), then I strongly suggest you: (a) download and use our 3-phase calculator here; and (b) consult the right-most column of the following cheat-sheet.

2. Print out this chart, pin it on your bulletin board ... and trust no other document on earth. (Click to view as high-resolution PDF).

3-Phase 208V Comparison Chart

SOME OBSERVATIONS

  • This chart (and this blog post) applies ONLY to 208V, 3-phase power. If your facility utilizes 400V, 3-phase; or 415V, 3-phase power [i.e. most of EU, many other countries, and many of Raritan’s largest customers in North America]—then this information does not apply to you!!!

 

  • Compare A and C in the chart above. Note that going from a single-phase (30A) power strip to a three-phase (30a) power strip does NOT get you 3x more power. That is a common misconception. Instead, you get 1.732x more power [the square root of 3]. Again, you will have to consult my previous post for an explanation why.

 

  • Most rack PDU Manufacturers offer two versions of “50A, 3-phase” power strips—Options D and E in the chart above. In both cases, your co-location facility (or data center facility) provides a 50A, 3-phase input. But one power strip costs much less than the other. That is to say, moving from D to E increases the power strip’s costs materially, while offering only ~14% more power. That is why Rack PDU vendors often recommend Option D.  EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: Most co-location customers [i.e., not owner/operator].

 

  • Similarly, many rack PDU Manufacturers offer two versions of “60A, 3-phase” power strips—Options F and G in the chart above. This is less common, but does occur on occasion.

THIS INFORMATION IS VENDOR NON-SPECIFIC

Please note that all the information in this post is not specific to Raritan power strips—but is vendor-agnostic… it’s just math. (Of course, if you do find this information beneficial, I sure would appreciate your considering Raritan as a potential provider for critical power distribution in your next build.)

 

Learn the most innovative features of rack power distribution units. 


Gathering Intel on Data Center Power Consumption

Posted on April 3, 2013 by Gento  |  Comment (0)

Raritan’s iPDUs plus Power IQ® Software lead to lower Data Center Opex

Data-Center-Power-Management

What if, the next time you opened your home electric bill, instead of a lump sum of kilowatt-hours, you found an itemized list of every electrical appliance — down to each and every light bulb—that drew power that month, and how much you’re spending to run it? Instead of shrugging and hunting down your checkbook, you would have useful information you could use to drive that bill down.

You would know what it’s costing to keep that spare freezer in the basement. You’d know exactly who left the garage light on all night, or if your air conditioner was really living up to its energy star rating. You could take steps to avoid overpaying, enforce family policies, and make smarter purchases.

That’s just a glimpse of what can be done now for the data center, with the wealth of information pumped out by Raritan iPDUs. These units continually generate tons of real-time data down to the circuit-breaker or the outlet level, if you need it. In addition to your industry-standard amperage reading, these intelligent strips can push a tremendous amount of granular data through one IP drop. Connected to environmental sensors, they can continually report on temperature, humidity, open-closed contact status, airflow, and CO2 level as well. They can even stream a web cam feed.

Far from being TMI, this data is what empowers you equip every rack with just the right amount of cooling, for example.  And that’s not small potatoes: According to Gartner, data centers save four percent of their cooling budget for every degree they can raise ambient temperature.  A related example: that iPDU can also tell you —with 1% accuracy— how many kwH you’re consuming every month to power any particular blade server.  And since you’re billed in KwH, you’ve now got an apples-to-apples comparison between consumption and cost, or between different hardware models and configurations.

Knowing which aisles are hot, and which are not

With a clickable, real-time display on the PDU and the capacity for up to eight temperature and eight humidity sensors, you can discover aisle-specific hot spots to more accurately concentrate your cooling.  You can determine if there’s a systemic problem, or just a vent, for example, that’s been blocked by a carelessly placed briefcase.  You can keep humidity levels high enough to prevent electrostatic discharge, and low enough to discourage hardware corrosion and with that, early system and component failure.

Raritan’s Power IQ software is what takes in all this data from Raritan’s, as well as competitors’, intelligent PDUs, analyzes it, and makes it actionable. It can aggregate and analyze data across multiple centers in multiple sites, and even generate ODBC-exportable reports.

In my next blog, we’ll talk a bit more about Power IQ and Raritan’s EMX controller, which allow you to set thresholds, alerts, and generally inject invaluable smarts into one of the dumbest things in your data center—the rack.

Click here to learn more about Raritan’s data center power management solutions

Click here to follow our group on Linkedin


Join Raritan & 400+ Executives on April 11th at the Data Center Summit in Santa Clara

Posted on April 1, 2013 by Gento  |  Comment (1)

Hear 40+ Speakers, Including New Industry Voices & Active Data Center Real Estate & Technology Firms

With the combined economic recovery and rapid rise in interest in the data center real estate and technology infrastructure sectors, there could not be a more important forum to separate fact from fiction.

Date: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Location: Santa Clara Convention Center, 5001 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, CA 95054

Stop by the Raritan table to see the latest power management solutions.  You’ll be entered into a drawing for a blu-ray player.  For more details and to register, please visit http://cre-events.com/dcnorcal2013/.


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