Effective power management: ecotel creates transparency and reliability in power consumption

Ecotel Communication AG provides with the ecotel Server Colocation Services which are located in its computer centre in Frankfurt-on-Main business customers with the opportunity to rent cabinet space for their own servers. They will no longer incur the costs involved in running a computer centre, e.g. expensive cooling systems, fire extinguishers and access control systems. For the customer who can book a whole, half or quarter of a rack, this is a reliable and above all cost-efficient housing option.

Who is consuming how much?

Bearing in mind in particular that a server rack accommodates up to four renters, in 2009 the colocation operator ecotel was faced with the challenge of being able to advise each customer of the power costs they alone had incurred. “We wanted to create transparency and only charge each customer for what they had actually consumed,” explains Theodoros Siogas, Manager of ecotel’s Engineering & Data Centre. A new billing solution had to be easy to implement so that the computer centre comprising approximately 500 racks could be converted quickly and efficiently. Downtime as a result of conversion work was to be kept as low as possible. Initially ecotel considered intelligent power distribution units, or PDUs for short, which are able to measure and document precisely the power consumed by each individual renter. In its search for the right PDUs, ecotel turned to the computer centre specialist Raritan.

The “intelligent” server cabinet

After a thorough analysis of the current situation and the needs for the future, Raritan and ecotel came to the conclusion that PDUs did not provide the best solution for the customer’s needs. A more suitable, more cost and time efficient method for calculating the power consumed by the rented racks is provided by Raritan’s Dominion PX-3000 inline measuring devices. The advantage of these measuring devices is that it is not necessary to completely replace the “non-intelligent” power distribution units, as the inline measuring devices can be simply installed into the existing infrastructure, minimising the amount of work involved in the conversion and the downtime caused by the changeover. The non-intelligent, that is to say passive power distribution units are connected with the inline measuring devices via a terminal block. The intelligent Dominion PX-3000 inline meters collect data from passive power distribution units concerning power, energy and the server cabinet environment.

For ecotel this means that it is not only able to calculate precisely the amount of power consumed by each customer, it can also monitor potential sources of risk. The installed Raritan measuring devices warn for instance if the number of amps consumed by an individual customer servers exceeds the permitted limit. Each customer rents a capacity of 16 A at ecotel and obtains a corresponding supply line. In times of increased demand there is a risk of a short circuit and as a result damage to the entire infrastructure. Besides their measuring function, Raritan’s inline measuring devices can also be used to monitor the environment. For this purpose a range of sensors can be added to them so that they can be used to measure among other things the temperature and humidity in the server cabinet. With the data that is gathered, the user can determine for example threshold values which trigger an alarm when they are exceeded or, where possible, raises the temperature in the computer centre to a level which, according to current recommendations, improves energy efficiency. The inline meters therefore collect information which helps to regulate the climatic conditions in the cabinets, save energy and therefore money and in so doing make a useful economic and environmental contribution.

Billing at the push of a button

The individual power consumption values which are required for the accurate billing of each individual customer can now be established by the inline measuring devices from Raritan. But how can the consumption values of the individual “server sections” be allocated to the respective consumer so that the customer can be billed automatically? In order to enable this allocation and manage all of the data collected by the inline meters, ecotel uses Raritan’s energy management software Power IQ. The software collates and manages all of the data supplied by the inline meters in a database. Power IQ transmits the data via an open ODBC interface to other management systems, in this case ecotel’s billing software. This allows customers to be billed automatically.

A further advantage of this process is that, according to ISO/IEC, Raritan’s inline meters have a very high measuring accuracy level of only +/– 1 % and are certified in accordance with EN standard 62053-21. According to legal regulations, this high level of accuracy allows third parties to be billed for the power they have consumed.

“We chose Raritan not only because the devices could be implemented without any trouble and are easy to operate, but also because of their measuring accuracy and certification,” explained Theodoros Siogas. “We would like to offer our customers a high level of reliability and transparency. For us it is a question of trust and professionalism.”

Learn More About Raritan
Customer

The Dusseldorf-based ecotel Communication AG operates nationwide and specialises in its core business of “business customer solutions,” providing around 18,000 business customers with an integrated product portfolio of voice, data and mobile telephony solutions. An integral part of this is ectel’s data center division, which is located in ecotel’s computer centre in Frankfurt-on-Main. Business customers can rent a cabinet space here for their own servers. It offers reliability, high-performance transmission paths and proactive monitoring of the most important transmission parameters.

Challenge

As each server rack accommodates up to four renters, a solution needed to be found which records the power consumed by each individual renter. At the same time the solution needed to enable the monitoring of potential sources of risk, for example by advising when the permitted number of amps has been critically exceeded.

Solution
  • Raritan’s Dominion PX-3000 inline measuring devices
  • Raritan’s energy management software Power IQ
Results

Thanks to Raritan’s intelligent Dominion PX-3000 inline meters, ecotel is able to establish the individual power consumption values for each individual customer. The devices also recognise critical deviations in voltage and report these when limits are exceeded. The same applies for the temperature and humidity in the server cabinets — the intelligent Dominion PX-3000 inline meters also help in conjunction with Raritan’s environment sensors to optimise the climatic conditions in the computer centre. In order to enable the management of the data collected by the inline meters, ecotel uses Raritan’s energy management software Power IQ. This collates and manages all of the data supplied in a database. Power IQ transmits the data via an interface to other management systems, in this case ecotel’s billing software, which as a result is able to quickly and reliably generate the power bill for the customer.


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