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Back to School and The Dog Days of Summer

Posted by RJ Tee on Aug 4, 2017 11:24:46 AM

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Wow, where did the summer go?

At the beginning of the sunny season we talked about some things for school system and university data center managers to review during the summertime break.  Seems like yesterday.

As students begin heading back to campuses around the globe, our “dog days” question for you is this: are you ready?

 Here’s the short list of trends we continue to see across all our university projects:

Supporting HPC.  In the world of academic computing, our customers quickly turn to a single phrase to sum up their needs: high-performance computing.  With the rise in university research, grant winners are working with tight deadlines and increasingly complex requirements.  Check out our industry brief to learn more about how our customers tackle this issue.

Tightening up efficiencies.  More and more users are looking for better efficiencies and going to higher voltages to support their IT loads, particularly in campus settings where thinking beyond the convention is the norm.  Look no further than our educational efficiency blog for a summary of what it means to manage unconventional voltages.  

Thinking beyond the data center.  University and college power applications aren’t just about the data center.  Most campuses have sophisticated networks that are powered from equipment housed across the campus, creating a ‘distributed’ data center environment.  Read more in our industry brief in regards to about tackling that sprawl.

For more information about our work in higher education, visit our higher education solutions page.

Want to learn more?  Visit our higher education solutions page

Topics: education, higher education

Schools: Use Summer to Overhaul Your Data Center Power Strategy

Posted by RJ Tee on Jun 27, 2017 8:11:00 AM

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Students may have left for the summer, but for data center professionals working for school systems and universities, the work is just getting started.

Summer is a time to reflect on how the data center performed during the previous year, for identifying areas that need improvement and for making critical adjustments before September rolls back around.

One issue that must be addressed during summer planning is data center power management. After all, power is a critical foundational element in the data center. But it’s also very expensive, and risky.

Most school systems today are operating on tight budgets, and cannot afford issues like:

  • Downtime: Unplanned power surges can lead to lengthy bouts of downtime for a school, knocking servers offline and requiring lengthy repairs. This can bring network operations to a halt, impacting everything from classroom connectivity to emergency communications systems.  You can learn more about Server Technology's uptime solutions here.
  • Zombie servers: Many school systems are running idle “zombie” servers, which will remain on all summer despite the fact that they are not needed. These zombie servers must be identified and managed to prevent waste.
  • Disasters: Servers can get very hot. If left unchecked, they can overheat and catch on fire. For this reason, environmental monitoring is very important.  Need a place to start looking into the top environmental monitoring tools?  Read this.

Server Technology offers a variety of hardware and software solutions to simplify data center power management. Using Server Technology’s cutting-edge PDUs, and the Sentry Power Management (SPM) platform, data center administrators can perform real-time monitoring and maintenance, environmental control and remote power management.

Ready To Learn More?

Topics: SPM Sentry Power Manager, uptime, environmental monitoring, zombie servers, education

Educational Efficiency - Rethinking Your Current Strategy

Posted by RJ Tee on Mar 31, 2017 11:33:06 AM

 

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If you were in the position to start from scratch with power distribution, what would you do? For many of our education customers looking at planning a new facility, the answer is to completely rethink the norms.  Many data center managers are making do with the power distribution that came with the building, and for most, the system is not current.  No pun intended. 

Given a new-build situation in which all ideas are on the table, more and more users are looking for better efficiencies and going to higher voltages to support their IT loads.  “We were fortunate to be able to explore all of the options that are out there,” states Dave Fahey, North America Sales Director for Server Technology about a recent campus project.  “The first thought when we sat down with the engineering team was to go with what they knew.  Fortunately, they approached the project with an open mind and looked different distribution voltages.”

Here are a few things to help keep your mind open as you head down this road:

Avoid transformation.  The most typical scenario is to begin with a 480/277 service, commonly delivered to large commercial buildings in the US.  Instead of dialing the service down to 208/120V, either at the UPS or PDU level by way of a step-down transformer, users are specifying an autotransformer in their UPS or PDU that delivers 415/240V to the rack level, and 240 to the appliance.  This method not only saves on equipment cost but also generates a 2% energy savings that would be assigned to the transformer loss.

Mind the gap.  By going to 415/240V, users understand that they will be delivering much higher voltages to the rack, which must be accommodated in the design.  It is important for staff to be educated on working near higher voltages, and to update company change management processes to reflect this accommodation.  Additionally, temperature monitoring and PDU-level controls will be essential.  And don’t forget the plug – electronic equipment operating at 240V will need IEC-based cords!     

Efficiency up, cost down.  The procedural changes are worth their weight in increased efficiencies and energy savings.  On top of the 2% gain realized by eliminating the transformer, most server and storage equipment operates more efficiently at 240V than either 208V or 120V.  Add in savings from avoiding line losses, and users can expect savings in the 4 to 5% range.  According to a Server Technology white paper on the topic, even at a modest 750 kW load, this energy savings translates to $32,850 per year assuming a $.10 kW/h rate.  Over the lifespan of the facility, say 10 years, this equates to $328,500 in savings at the given load.  And the higher the load, the higher the efficiency, and the higher the total savings.

While there may be a learning curve involved with working with new voltages, the reward from higher efficiency is certain.  “It is mostly a matter of rethinking what you know,” comments Fahey.  “Our customer was able to learn about a different side of the power world, and I’m glad they did because the cost savings helped fund the program.”

To see if rethinking your current strategy is right for you, take a look at our white paper on power efficiency gains, or ask us a question in the form on the right.

Topics: education