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Environmental Monitoring: Mission Critical Monitoring, or Mission Impossible?

Posted by RJ Tee on Oct 23, 2017 6:45:00 AM

data center environmental monitoring mission impossible

Data center environmental monitoring is nothing new.  Systems such as the first Sensaphones have been around for decades, dialing out on POTS lines to report on space, power, and cooling.  But don’t get me wrong – we’ve come a long way, baby.

Haven’t we?

As our friends at the Green Grid have correctly noted, you cannot improve what you are not measuring.  It is safe to say that, up until now, we have never had access to the volume of information we can capture now, nor could we process it into useful and actionable data.  But one thing has not changed, and that is the fact that we still rely on probes and sensors to capture all those little kernels of information.

What if I told you that Server Technology, known around the globe as the power strategy expert, with its team of electrical engineers and their trophy wall of industry patents, is really a data center environmental monitoring firm in disguise?  Or that a typical rack PDU is an advanced monitoring solution with a little power distribution thrown in to keep up the ruse?

Yeah, I’ll accept ‘crazy’ as your answer, but hear me out, Ethan Hunt.

What’s more, did you notice that we are capturing information at the source, from the source? 

Since our rack PDUs speak BACnet and Modbus, you can report the information back to the DCIM package of your choice.  The information gathered can provide instant feedback on environmental conditions, as well as the numbers you need to evaluate your PUE, cooling efficiency, power utilization, capacity planning, and more.

Not bad for a rack PDU. 

Click here for more information about Server Technology’s mission, or check out our full field report on Advances in Power and Environmental Monitoring.  Or stand watch with the Sentry Power Manger.

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Topics: Sentry Power Manager, environmental monitoring, DCIM, intelligent PDUs

Top Reasons Your DCIM Strategy Isn’t Working

Posted by RJ Tee on Apr 10, 2017 10:31:26 AM


Awhile back, you and your team implemented a data center infrastructure management (DCIM) strategy to help control your rapidly-growing department. At the time, your thinking was that DCIM would streamline operations, aid in knowledge-based decision making and help your business respond to changing workloads. The whole point was to make life easier for you and your team members, while also making the data center more efficient and cost-effective for your business (which is now riding almost entirely its network infrastructure).

Let’s face it, though: Things aren’t going exactly as they planned. Your data center is still wasting vast amounts of power on a daily basis, and it’s still suffering from sporadic bouts of downtime. And on top of it, you’re continuously operating in the red zone and upper management is not happy about it.

So, why are your DCIM tools failing to get the job done? Just recently, our Product Manager Robert Faulkner sounded off in The Stack about why so many IT administrators are having trouble with their strategies.

Here are some of the main issues that administrators are having with DCIM:  

  1. A lack of manpower: One thing Faulkner pointed out in the article was that IT teams are being asked to do more and more in their data centers but with fewer resources — including manpower. “This brings up a catch-22 scenario where data center managers have to account for the time it takes to install, implement, integrate, and continually manage and monitor a massive system, while still fighting the seemingly never-ending battles associated with overall business growth,” Faulkner explained. Small IT teams, therefore, require tools that help them work smarter.
  1. Human error: Between 40 to 90 percent of data center downtime can be attributed to human error. So according to Faulkner, the main priority from a power delivery perspective should be to keep workers out of the data center whenever possible. Remote monitoring and management is, therefore, critical for success.
  1. A lack of actionable data: Many DCIM strategies will attempt to monitor and measure every part of the data center. However, they’re not getting much value out of the data they’re collecting because it’s typically all over the place and unrefined. As a result, many data center administrators are making decisions based on assumptions instead of using cold, hard data. This can lead to all sorts of capacity planning issues.

Ultimately, the root cause of the problem comes down to a lack of specific, purpose-build monitoring tools in the data center. Any business looking to improve its power management strategy, in other words, needs to collect real-time intelligence from the PDUs which are powering servers, storage, and network gear.

How Server Technology Can Help Your DCIM Strategy

Server Technology’s Sentry Power Manager (SPM) platform comes with access to an open API that can be used to share critical power and environmental data with other systems like BMS and DCIM. It allows users to see critical information related location, system, outlet, cabinet, PDU, branch, sensor, and phase.

To learn more, click here.

Topics: SPM, DCIM

Stone Soup?

Posted by Marc Marazzi on Mar 2, 2016 11:43:49 AM


Stone Soup is an old folk story in which hungry strangers trick the local people of a town into sharing their food. The story is usually told as a lesson in cooperation, especially amid scarcity. It is an Aarne-Thompson tale from around 1548.

Some travellers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers. Then the travelers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they are making "stone soup", which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavour, which they are missing. The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help them out, so that gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup which has not reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all.

 So my question is- Are the big DCIM players selling stone soup?

 It's a controversial subject I guess, but I am curious to know what other people think and have experienced with DCIM.

DCIM has been marketed almost as the tool(s) that allow you to do everything and manage everything- but in order to get maximum benefit, there are a number of products/infrastructure requirements that will render your DCIM solution ineffective unless you have them.

 Here are just a few I can think of-

  • Asset tagging and tracking
  • Intelligent PDU’s that measure power at the socket level of the PDU
  • Cooling measurement monitoring and management 
  • CFD modelling data
  • Temperature and humidity probes
  • Network / patch panel management
  • An up to date inventory/CMDB of what is in each rack, what are they connected to, etc
  • Others?

So, if you have all or most of these items already, what is DCIM doing for you? I understand that it can aggregate all of the above information and give you a holistic view of the total environment, but does everyone need that?

 Any good management system will provide you with meaningful reports that give you actionable information. Our power management solution, Sentry Power Manager, comes with out of the box reports that we know people use to help them manage power, temperature and humidity capacity. And when we bolt on tools from companies like RF Code, we take the solution much further.

And if you don't have some of the fundamental things like power measurement at the power strip level or an up to date inventory database on where everything is, I'm not sure DCIM can be maximised in an environment.

It's a prickly one to discuss as many organisations have probably invested a lot of time, money and resources in to a DCIM project or a DCIM tool, but I am curious what others think.

It's a huge industry and there are so many companies that do a good job providing solutions, so I'm really interested to hear from the Data Centre community on what their experiences have been and, if they could click undo, would they still do it all again?

Topics: data center infrastrcture management, DCIM, data center power management

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