Software that allows centralized monitoring of PDUs and UPSes helps college data center managers better manage the devices.
Software Monitors Energy Use
Georgetown University has 60 uninterruptible power supply systems located in communication closets that are distributed across its Washington, D.C., campus. But when it comes to managing these systems, the IS department need look in only one place.
Jim Kuhar, the IS department's senior manager of integrated network operations, uses Eaton Intelligent Power Manager software in conjunction with the manufacturer's UPS systems. The software alerts the IS department when the UPS systems lose power or switch to battery, or when a battery wears out.
Getting this information from Intelligent Power Manager is much easier than trying to determine if a facility on the other side of campus has lost power, especially because the phone systems often go down too, Kuhar says. Georgetown installed UPS devices to help insulate the campus from periodic outages.
“If our network power source was switched to emergency generator power, either as a result of a real power outage or a periodic emergency generator test, our network equipment would briefly lose power during these transitions and the network would go down,” he says. “Now we can centrally monitor the UPSes with the Eaton software, which tells us when they go to battery and there is no impact to network availability.”
More than Monitoring
Centralized management of UPS systems and power distribution units (PDUs) is just one advantage offered by power management software from companies such as APC, Eaton, Raritan and Tripp Lite. Many of these products can also determine how much energy is being consumed by attached devices, as well as provide remote monitoring of system health and environmental conditions.
As the movement toward energy efficiency in the data center evolves, IT departments are finding tools that give them more granular control over energy use and related costs. Using power management tools for monitoring data center equipment can help an organization's overall move toward energy efficiency, says Greg Schulz, founder of the Server and StorageIO Group, an IT consulting firm. Schulz dubs the typical lack of attention paid to such tools as the “green gap.”
Percentage of IT managers who know what portion of their IT budget is spent on energy, up from 50% in 2009
“When I mention green, IT professionals think reduced carbon footprint. They don't equate it to boosting productivity or leveraging power management,” he says. “As people realize there's more to green than just CO2 and recycling, that it's also about economic activity and driving productivity, they realize they've been missing out on opportunities.”
At Flagler College, a private liberal arts school with roughly 2,500 students in St. Augustine, Fla., CIO Joseph Provenza is prepared for the future.
About two years ago, the college installed an APC Symmetra PX UPS in the data center to back up power to network equipment and production servers to ensure that Flagler's web-enabled systems were available 24x7, Provenza says.
Because the network requires only one UPS at the moment, Provenza isn't using APC's software to centrally manage and monitor UPS systems. However, he has set up the web interface so he and his IT staff can check on the UPS status and receive e-mail alerts when the UPS goes on battery power. And he likes knowing the capabilities to centrally manage power gear and monitor energy usage are available should he need them in the future.
“We're a small private college, we're not running a huge operation, but we went with APC because it's an amazingly stout product,” says Provenza. “If the college continues to grow and the server room continues to grow, we're poised to keep right on going.”
Keeping Power Equipment Efficient
Here are some tips for keeping your PDUs and UPS devices running smoothly:
- Visually inspect PDUs annually and UPS systems semi-annually for signs of loose connections, burned insulation, corrosion or other wear.
- Regularly clean and vacuum UPS equipment enclosures.
- Set power management software to alert when a UPS load approaches 80 percent of maximum capacity, to prevent the system from going into unplanned bypass.
- Use power management software to push firmware and other updates to PDUs.
- Make sure there is adequate ventilation to keep power equipment at the operating temperature range specified by the manufacturer; install dedicated air conditioning if necessary.