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DCIM, A Holistic, Shared View of the Data Center

Posted on January 28, 2013 by Gento  |  Comments (2)

DCIM-Data-Center

A data center is the domain of several different work groups in an enterprise.  A facilities group is responsible for such physical elements as the cooling plant and the power plant. The IT infrastructure group is responsible for the networking resources - everything from the structured cabling, to the networks, to the SANs and LANs. Then you have the IT systems group, responsible for the whole system, the servers, the storage systems, etc.  In the days of on-premise data centers, these groups worked in close physical proximity with each other and with their end users.

Over the past several years, more and more enterprise data centers have become stand-alone facilities.  No longer attached to the corporate headquarters building, they have increased the need for lights-out operation on the IT side. A new group of workers, data center ops, now manages day-to-day operations.  They’re in charge of fulfilling requests from the various groups, racking and stacking the servers, connecting them to the power chain and to the network infrastructure.

What I have been seeing in practice is that data center ops groups tend to react to these requests in a totally manual and painfully inefficient way. They may send a technician to figure out the rack spaces available.  They may send a second person to figure out the cabling and networking resources available in that cabinet and they may send a third to figure out what power is available in those cabinets.

Some of our customers have told me that this process can take so long - often several weeks - that by the time they’ve figured out these resources and their upstream dependencies, the rack space is gone.  Lacking the tools to communicate data center resources properly among all requesting groups, the ops end up resorting to manual processes.

Good Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools address both pain points here — the repetitive, on-premise checking for data center assets, and the communication gap between departments and domains that lets those resources run out before requests can be filled.

DCIM systems start with a thorough configuration of all the assets in a data center, including their connections, and their upstream and downstream dependencies. We look at not only how much power there is, but how many network switches, ports, and power strips you have and how much power you have available in every rack - how everything is connected. You might like to know, for example, how an infrastructure element such as a circuit breaker or a network switch port may have an impact upstream on the servers that are connected to that breaker. Or you might want to know what applications are running on these servers and what departments or business units are being supported by these applications.  These problems become very difficult to solve, especially on the fly and under the stress of resolving a problem.

Visualization tools within DCIM should give data center operators and managers top views of the data center, from which they can drill down to a rack, to every device and server in the rack, and even see its front and back so they can understand what ports are configured on that device.

The discipline part of the solution — enforceable through DCIM tools — is a consistent application of change management processes, so that data center changes and installations are recorded and the overall picture is kept accurate.

A true DCIM, then, is a holistic system with components to serve many disparate groups, whether they are the technicians, the administrators, the managers or even the VPs that run each of these groups.


Lunch & Learn with JEM Tech Group

Posted on January 11, 2013 by Gento  |  Comment (0)

You’re invited to JEM Tech Group’s Lunch and Learn where you’ll get great information about data center energy monitoring and management.

JEM-Tech-Group-Logo

When:
Thursday, February 7, 2013
10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

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Where:
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
(Lyon Meadows Conference Center)
53200 Grand River
New Hudson, MI 48165
Google Map

  1. Are you tasked to reduce your energy bill with an existing data center?
  2. Are you faced with rising energy costs and increased power load due to today’s higher density servers?

If you answered “yes” to either question, you are not alone and should RSVP to this Lunch & Learn.

In this seminar, you will learn how taking a green approach to maximizing data center efficiency will help you implement cost cutting measures, better manage and control your equipment, maximize your ROI and potentially earn rebates from your local energy company.

Your colleagues are welcome to join. The time spent will be beneficial to your IT and Facilities teams alike.

10:30 - 11:15
Registration & Networking

11:15 - 12:15
Controlling your Data Center Power Consumption
Manage power usage more effectively, with data gathering that can help you identify and gain efficiencies and interval sampling for trending, analysis and reporting over time. Presented by Quicken Loans and Raritan.

12:15 - 1:00
Lunch Buffet

1:00 - 1:45
Monitor and Manage your global IT Infrastructure
Decisions are easier to make if the right data is available through a vendor neutral solution.
Presented by Domino’s Pizza and Geist.

1:45 - 2:00
Blue Cross Blue Shield Tour of their Cold Aisle Containment Installation.
RSVP to the event by February 4th.
To register, contact Lori Obney at
(586) 783-3400 or at
l.obney@jemtechgroup.com

Sponsored by Raritan and Geist


We’ve Cut the Cables to Intelligent PDUs

Posted on December 6, 2012 by Gento  |  Comment (0)

PDUs Intelligent

Here at Raritan, we’re very excited to announce our new Wi-Fi data center solution - the first to enable intelligent rack PDUs (iPDUs)  and telemetry sensors to communicate over regular, 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless connections.  Considering that typical equipment racks have two PDUs apiece for power redundancy, this is great news to anyone designing data centers: they’ve just lopped the cost of pulling Ethernet cable off their power management budget.

It’s also great news for anyone in an existing data center who wants to make the switch to intelligent power distribution or add environmental monitoring to their remote operation. Raritan intelligent PDU sensors can track temperature, humidity, airflow, and air pressure readings remotely.  Again, no Ethernet cost; no new switches or cables to find space for.

When you replace that cabling with an antenna and a set of wireless access points in the ceiling, you’ve opened up some great new possibilities for DCIM while reducing your deployment cost.

And your security remains tight. Admittedly, there’s no way to lock doors or build physical fences around a wireless network - most wireless waves propagate a fair distance, depending on the frequency at which they operate.  But that physical cable occupies only the bottom layer of the OSI seven-layer model. Between the basic hardware layer and the top, application layer, there are opportunities in all of the other layers to insert effective obstacles against interception or spoofing.

Secure Power Management, Environmental Monitoring - Without Stringing Cables

Just think about a firewall, one like we all have in our homes or businesses. That firewall is designed to prevent a malware attack of some sort from getting into your network physically. But if someone inside your company wants to do harm, that firewall is irrelevant. The person inside the company is also inside the firewall. So in order to protect your network from the inside, you need things that operate at the data and application layers, like authorizations, permissions, authentication, and data encryption to keep your data secure.  Our new wireless channel now does all that, restricting access to the right people. It also encrypts the information so that someone can’t just set up a wireless scanner to listen in or pick up passwords.

Generation 2 Raritan intelligent PDUs. An opening to go wireless

When we went to the Generation 2 models of our intelligent PDUs two years ago, we added USB-A and USB-B ports. (In fact, we’re the only PDU manufacturer to date that has done this.) Then we designed a cable to plug into that port, run up to the top of the cabinet, and accept a USB Wi-Fi antenna - one of our own make. This gives us control of the communication protocols. That way, we know that it operates on 802.11a, b, g and n.  In other words, it operates with whatever wireless access points the customer already has or wants.

Learn more about Raritan‘s Wi-Fi solution. Click here.

Further Reading

ComputerWorld Article


DCD Dallas on December 11th - Limited Number of Complimentary Passes Available

Posted on November 30, 2012 by Gento  |  Comment (0)

Raritan has a limited number of free passes for end users only.  Contact Dorothy Ochs at Dorothy.Ochs@Raritan.com to take advantage of this offer.  And don’t forget to stop by our booth for your chance to win an iPad and see our smart rack.  Raritan’s smart-rack management solution consisting of:

- A rack controller and/or intelligent rack PDUs with sophisticated controller boards which support power metering and control at various levels
- Environment sensors such as temperature, humidity, air pressure and airflow
- Other sensors such as contact closure and webcam
- Electronic asset tracking
- KVM for remote management of devices
- Energy management and data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software

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Hope you can join us in Dallas!  For more information about DCD Dallas, visit http://www.datacenterdynamics.com/conferences/2012/dallas-2012.


Unique Data Center Energy Management Solutions

Posted on November 28, 2012 by Gento  |  Comment (0)

data center energy

According to a recent New York Times article, U.S. Data Centers consumed 76 billion kilowatt-hours in 2010. At the Green Data Center Conference in Santa Clara, there was a great deal of discussion on data center energy waste. But there was more on just how far data center managers are willing to go to make their data centers more efficient without sacrificing performance. Raritan has several inventive solutions to achieve this.

Solutions to optimize comatose servers

 

One of the main issues data center managers want to solve is how to manage their servers so they’re not running when they’re not needed. It’s a knowledge and management issue. In fact, comatose servers are one of the largest wastes of energy in the data center. Kenneth Brill of the Uptime Institute estimates that 15% - 30% of data centers’ servers could be turned off.

 

Raritan’s Power IQ, when coupled with our intelligent Power Distribution Units (iPDUs), helps you identify under-utilized infrastructure so you can save energy. The solution gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase “knowledge is power.”

Over-provisioning of power and infrastructure

  • 99.5% SLAs.
  • Complaining end users who have come to expect an “always-on” readiness.
  • Demanding industries like finance and gaming where transactions happen in milliseconds and nanoseconds.

In the face of end-user demand, try telling a data center they can’t over-provision.

 

Over-provisioning power supply to data centers is simply standard practice. Data center managers know it’s the only way to keep up with service level expectations and to manage spikes in traffic.

 

Or is it?

 

When data center managers have granular data down to the outlet level, and have the software to make sense of all that data, they’ll begin to see where energy capacity is stranded and can be better used.

 

What data center managers need is a tool set to visualize the data center from an asset standpoint - how much capacity any particular device is using in real-time. Such a solution would allow them centralized monitoring, email notifications, graceful OS shutdown, outlet control, powerful analytics of your costs, line capacities, carbon footprint and rack temperature.

Capacity vs. Consumption

As you probably know, most colocation facilities charge customers for energy by the capacity they provide rather than the real-time consumption per month or per year. Because of this, the customers say “Well, if I am paying for a certain capacity, then it’s up to me to utilize as much as possible so that I don’t leave any money on the table.”

 

Raritan has a solution for customers in this situation. We created power strips that will be rated for the maximum available rating allowable for each particular need. Meanwhile, most of the industry has chosen to stay under a certain rating to minimize the PDU cost. What it leaves the customer with is a less than optimal solution. Raritan’s solution gives data centers the maximum rating regardless of the capacity needed. It’s within ANSI guidelines and comes in at a reasonable price. Also, this eliminates the need to create more cabinets in the data center or in the colocation facility and saves a considerable amount of money and effort.

Large deployments of iPDUs

If your data center embraces all of this and suddenly decides to install hundreds, or even thousands of iPDUs, you could have a real mess of credentials, unique policies and alerts. Raritan came up with a simple way to help:

 

A USB Stick.

 

You provide the USB stick with a list of PDUs and power strips and their corresponding credentials and policies.

 

One of your techs goes to each PDU, plugs this USB stick into them and the PDU will read what’s in the stick and configure itself with the required credentials.

 

When an iPDU is configured correctly, we put a smiley face on the screen so you know it went well and it took the right credentials.

Further Reading

Bill Brill Interview - WallStreetAndTech.com

 

Energy Star Data Center Energy Efficiency Initiative

 

New York Times - Data Center Energy Waste


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