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Top Tools For Environmental Monitoring in the Data Center

Posted by RJ Tee on Feb 24, 2017 8:05:00 AM

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There’s an old proverb that goes, “Trust, but verify.” This sentiment is particularly apt for data center management, where it’s vital to track every metric you can get your hands on. The need for better environmental monitoring capabilities is increasing due to increasing compute, network, and storage densities and increasing operating temperatures in the data center. Thus, keeping close watch over environmental activity in your data center, particularly when it comes to temperature, and humidity in the rack are critical to prevent disasters if left unchecked. So, what is the best way to get four or more environmental monitoring points in your cabinets?

Sounds like a complicated question, but the answer is simple: Server Technology Intelligent PDUs are enabled right out of the box with the abilities to attach environmental probes that can precisely detail environmental conditions in your data center equipment cabinets. This information is most reliable when measured external to the devices in the cabinet.

Adding the ability to monitor environmental conditions in your cabinets can help you to optimize how you cool your equipment. In fact, we’ve seen time and again that it’s well worth it. Consider this: studies have clearly shown that data centers can trim four to five percent in energy costs with each one-degree Fahrenheit increase in server inlet temperature. 

The following are tools Server Technology’s Power Strategy Experts recommend to ensure that temperature and humidity remain in check on your data center floor.

Server Technology’s Environmental Monitoring Tools

Built in Temperature and Humidity ports: Recently, ASHRAE provided thermal guidelines suggesting data centers use at least three measurement points in the equipment rack. Server Technology’s Switched and Smart PDUs ship ready to support two combo humidity/temperature probes per PDU, providing four points of measurement in the equipment rack equipped with two PDUs. 

EMCU-1-1B modules and sensors:  The EMCU is an add-on module which provides additional temperature and humidity probes, door intrusion sensors, as well as water and fluid detection. Learn more about EMCU-1-1B units here.

Sentry Power Manager: Server Technology’s Sentry Power Manager software provides you with a 360-degree view of activity in your data center. One of its main strengths is the ability to report and alarm on key power and environmental information trends, including predictive trending. It also shows you multiple parameters such as power usage and temperature within the same trend.

When combined with Server Technology’s smart or switched PDUs, our Sentry Power Manager can be paired with environmental probes and monitors to give you a full view of your data center. That, in turn, gives you peace of mind and saves you a bundle both in the short term and the long run.

Want to get a live demo to see without leaving the comfort of your office and computer? Check out our SPM Solutions page or request a live demo today.

Learn More about Sentry Power Manager

Topics: SPM, ennironmental monitoring

No Room for Errors When Planning for Data Center Power Capacity

Posted by RJ Tee on Feb 10, 2017 3:36:37 PM

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As a data center administrator, one of the most important parts of your job — besides maintaining uptime and staying under budget — involves monitoring and managing your department’s resources. It’s your responsibility to make sure that your data center is fully capable of meeting the current and future needs of your enterprise and its changing customer base.

Of course, capacity planning is a broad topic that extends throughout all areas of the data center. It’s important to stay on top of resources like cooling, available rack and floor space, lighting and more. But all of these resources have one underlying commonality: They need electricity to function.  So data center power usage should be a top resource to monitor.

Many businesses, however, are still using outdated and ineffective power capacity planning solutions. Paper and spreadsheets, for instance, are still widely-used throughout the industry despite being prone to error and manipulation. With this type of system in place, it’s easy to miscalculate power usage data and submit reports that are inaccurate.

This can lead to the following problems:

Wasted dollars: Data centers are highly resource-intensive, which means every dollar must be put to good use. Power must be tracked and measured, in order to ensure that the most important infrastructure is receiving adequate amounts. It’s also important to know which servers are idle and how much electricity they are consuming — especially for data centers that operate at scale.

Greenwashing: Sustainability is a hot topic in marketing today. Unilever recently released a report showing that a third of consumers are now buying from brands based on their environmental and social impact. But if you’re thinking of using your data center to bolster your company’s status as an ecologically-friendly organization, you’ll have to be able to back up your claim with accurate reports and statistics. Otherwise, your business could be labeled as a “greenwasher,” or a business that spreads disinformation to appear responsible to the public.

Here’s how you can avoid this:

There is only one way to accurately manage data center power consumption, and that is by using intelligent power distribution units (PDU) with embedded monitoring, reporting and switching functions.

Server Technology offers a variety of smart PDUs featuring High Density Outlet Technology (HDOT), which provide an industry-leading 42 C13 outlets in a single chassis. Many units also work in conjunction with the Sentry Power Manager (SPM) which is a fully-automated, Web-based power management platform.

SPM predicts future power usage with Min/Max/Average values using predictive trends and ascension rates. Using this product, you will actually be able to see the approximate time that your data center will exceed its power, capacity or temperature thresholds.

Best of all, SPM makes it easy to compile and export data center power usage reports, so that all team members can stay informed about electricity allocation. Ultimately, this creates a better sense of teamwork and collaboration while eliminating errors. The end result is a data center that runs more efficiently, cost-effectively and securely.

Learn more about how Server Technology can improve  your business’s capacity management strategy  

Topics: SPM, capacity planning, Capacity planning solution

Five Great Things You Can do with SPM

Posted by Josh Schaap on Jan 9, 2017 12:05:41 PM

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Data center power management has never been easier thanks to Server Technology’s Sentry Power Manager (SPM) platform.  SPM is a fully-automated, Web-based solution that gives operators real-time visibility into the network and the ability to switch from any location. Using SPM, operators can more effectively manage their infrastructure — be it onsite or distributed — and fast-track power and cost reductions.  

SPM works in conjunction with most of Server Technology’s intelligent data center power distribution units (PDUs) including Smart and Switched, as well as Smart POPS and Switched POPs devices. These PDUs offer various levels of control and insight into each cabinet’s electricity consumption. And it all comes together in the SPM platform, the system’s central operational hub which can be accessed from any Web interface.

Here are five great ways that you can use SPM to improve operations in your facility: 

  1. Create reports: One of SPM’s most powerful tools is its reporting feature. This solution makes it possible to schedule and run custom power scans across specific areas of the network, at any time. This is useful for tasks like finding the time of the week when your data center consumes the most power. You can drill down into any part of the network that is connected to a smart PDU and gain access to critical performance metrics. Once a scan is complete, a full report can be easily generated and exported to team members so that everyone has a thorough understanding of how the data center is consuming power. It’s a much more efficient way to generate data than by manually combing the network for information and compiling it into spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are error-prone and can can be tampered with, while SPM, in contrast, is highly secure. The platform comes with strong authentication settings to ensure that only approved individuals can access the data. Multiple users can access SPM at the same time, making it easier for employees to work together when performing maintenance.
  1. Control your environment: SPM will keep a close watch on your facility’s temperature and humidity levels, to ensure operating conditions are optimal for your setup. SPM will alert you if action needs to be taken. Also, using this technology you can safely experiment with different environmental settings to reduce total energy costs. The platform can set minimum or maximum temperature thresholds, and it can provide critical data that you can use to see if your cost reduction strategies are paying off over time.
  1. Save time during firmware upgrades: Intelligent PDUs have one small drawback: They need to be upgraded with new firmware from time to time. This process can eat up precious hours during the week. With SPM, you can schedule firmware upgrades to automatically take place during the off hours on nights and weekends, so that updates will be complete by the time the devices are needed during the week. It’s also one less task you will have to worry about!
  1. Conserve resources: In a typical data center, about 40 - 60 percent of all power goes to the cabinets. So it’s important to ensure that the energy is being used effectively, and not being wasted on things like idle servers. SPM makes it possible to ensure that power is flowing properly across the network—meaning in a balanced and organized way.
  1. Ensure rack redundancy: In the past, operators were forced to perform network stress tests to see how they would perform during unplanned outages. Servers would have to be manually shut down and rebooted. This was a time-consuming, and somewhat risky process. SPM improves this process by automatically scanning the network to ensure that all systems are functioning properly. No shutdowns are required.

Ultimately, SPM will provide peace of mind and a greater sense of security in your data center. By using SPM, you can ensure that your data center’s most important foundational resource, electricity, is being used in the best possible manner. You and your colleagues will no longer have to waste time on menial power management research. This product will free you to take on higher-level projects.  

SPM, it should be noted, is especially useful for federal agencies which now must comply with cost and power reduction mandates. Federally-owned data centers must now track the resources they use and prove they are taking measures to slash costs and become more environmentally-friendly. Server Technology’s solutions are TAA compliant, and are being actively used in many federal agencies today.

Don’t wait to improve energy efficiency in your data center.

Need better insights into your data center?  Try Sentry Power Manager for a 120-Day Free Trial!

Topics: SPM, Sentry Power Manager

How Much Trouble Could One Technician Cause In Your Data Center?

Posted by Josh Schaap on Oct 31, 2016 10:14:17 AM

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Just recently, eWeek ran a Halloween-themed article titled “The Data Center: Where the Stuff of Nightmares Lurks.” The article pointed out some of the darkest fears that IT professionals are facing. And one caught our attention: “The ‘Help’ Desk Tech from Hell.”

“One of my greatest fears (brought about by an actual experience) is another absolutely pitiful on-site help desk tech who completely disregards procedures and starts moving cables around on network devices trying to get one device working again, but takes down six more in the process,” the article stated.

It’s sad, but true: Help desk technicians —as well as interns and careless, or sleep-deprived IT workers — can create a great deal of trouble in the data center.

Unfortunately, we can’t do much to prevent other employees from wreaking physical havoc in your data center. We’ll leave that t you. But there is something we can prevent: Unauthorized users adjusting your switched PDU settings.

Our Sentry Power Management (SPM) system comes with strong security settings and access controls. These controls can help prevent certain individuals from logging into your switched PDUs and making critical decisions which could lead to disastrous consequences.

It may seem like a small thing, but trust us: You don’t want other people messing with your power flows. With the SPM platform from Server Technology, you can rest assured knowing that only you or trusted colleagues have the ability to adjust your switched PDU settings. So if you get sick, go on vacation, or need to trust your data center with someone who is less qualified or experienced, you will not have to worry about coming back to an unfixable mess.

For more information, click here.

 

Topics: SPM Sentry Power Manager, SPM, data center power management

Data Center Power Management: The Key To Success in Silicon Valley

Posted by Josh Schaap on Oct 24, 2016 10:57:06 AM

rpm2-01.jpgSilicon Valley remains one of the largest and most competitive data center markets in America. Right now there is a data center vacancy rate of just 8.2 percent in the region. And according to a new report, the market is expected to continue to experience further growth in the near future.

As is to be expected, rents are sky-high in Silicon Valley. So if you’re planning to open a data center in the area, you’ll have to poke around to find a deal that aligns with your budgetary needs. We recommend you look in Santa Clara, which is an up and coming area of Silicon Valley that is quickly becoming a hotbed for data centers.

Santa Clara, it should be noted, is known for its ultra-low commercial electricity rates. These rates will vary depending on your monthly power usage.

It’s important to realize, though, that it doesn’t matter what electricity rates you are paying if you lack the ability to closely monitor your daily power usage. If you’re not careful, you could easily spend more money on electricity in a month in Santa Clara than in the heart of San Francisco. 

Data centers, after all, use a phenomenal amount of power on a daily basis. And if left unchecked, power consumption can quickly spiral out of control. Just think about all of the zombie servers that are running in your data center right now, sucking up power.

The only way to stay under (or even close) to budget is to invest in a reliable data center power management solution.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever before to control your data center power usage. In the past, data center managers only had traditional power outlets. But recent strides in data center power outlet technology have greatly improved this problem.

Server Technology is one data center power management provider that has been gaining a great deal of attention recently. Server Technology’s smart and switched Per Outlet Power Sensing (POPS)-enabled power distribution units provide per-outlet power measurements for data center racks. These products allow managers to track metrics like current, voltage, power (kW), apparent power, crest factor and power factor.

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They also offer the most outlets per form factor in the industry, allowing for greater cabinet densities.

Plus, Server Technology makes the data center power management process easy with its award-winning Sentry Power Manager (SPM) solution. This product centralizes power management, allowing for complete control and visibility over all intelligent data center PDUs.

Using Server Technology’s solutions, you will have a much easier time succeeding in the Silicon Valley data center market. While your competitors struggle with sky-high power bills, you will be tracking your usage and continuously optimizing your facility guided by actionable metrics.

To get started, click here.

Topics: SPM, Sentry Power Manager, PDUs, Server Technology, data center power management

Sentry Power Manager’s Versatile Reporting

Posted by Linda Kennedy on Oct 10, 2016 2:45:42 PM

Untitled-2-02.jpgWhen you look at report data are you bogged down with boredom? We thought you’d like the top reasons why Sentry Power Manager (SPM) puts bling into power metric reporting. Yes, it really does. After all, it’s SPM – the awarding-winning solution for your data center.

Server Technology firmly believes the information that SPM has waiting for you about your intelligent rack PDUs should support you – not you supporting the information. What if you could easily (and we do mean easily) get exactly what you want to know about your data center’s power and environmental status in a few seconds?

Reporting with SPM is fast and 2-way functionality allows you to make it your way.  Like texting with SPM. Well, sort of.

 

Here are the reasons why SPM is all about versatile reporting:

  • At-a-glance dashboard. Create NOC views that give you instant and colorful information about overall system status and the operational condition of networked rack PDUs. From the at-a-glance view of the entire system, you can drill-down to the specific working details of each networked device. A slideshow of all views offers you quick visual analysis and fast response to devices. With SPM, you are 100% in charge of your rack PDUs.
  • Totally custom reports. Create reports based on your priorities. Filter various report types with different parameters that are wrapped around more than 30 SPM report types, like Energy Consumed, Inventory, Carbon Footprint, Cabinet Redundancy, and many others. You decide which intelligent PDUs contribute their polled data to your tailored report, so you can see the data center from many different views – and always from your view.
  • Trending. SPM’s Trending feature is your power tool for troubleshooting device operations. Graphical trend reports pull huge amounts of operational data – like temperature and power usage – from thousands of intelligent PDUs. To keep you far ahead in the game, Trending’s predictive analysis is a forecast that uses patterns from historical reports to predict future risks and opportunities about PDU performance.
  • Report independence. You won’t need anything from another department; no engines, tools, or other stuff to buy. SPM reporting frees you from IT and how cool is that. Run your own report online in seconds any time. SPM will even schedule reports to be run and emailed whenever you want.
  • Central reporting. No more cutting and pasting data from here and there to create one patched-up report. All data from intelligent PDUs comes right from within SPM, and you just supply a few mouse clicks. No other travels needed to reach your report data – right here, right now; plus, save time in your data center by sharing any generated report with other SPM users.
  • Great looking reports. SPM reports and trend graphs are high-fashion whether displayed on your screen or rolling off the printer. Before you create a report, you get to preview how the report looks with the filters you selected, like grouping, output file format, time frame, and others depending on the report or trend type.
  • Export several file formats. Not only can you export a report but you can save it to a number of file formats like DOC, PDF, XML, XLS, and others. In a flash, SPM report data is at-the-ready to place into your spreadsheets and presentations.

That’s versatile reporting, right?

For a quick tour of SPM’s Report feature and a closer look at the go-to reports SPM users can’t live without, check out the 2-minute videos SPM Reports in a Nutshell and Top 3 SPM Reports.

Every data center should be using the award-winning Sentry Power Manager, so now’s the time for a test drive with the SPM 120-Day Free Trial.

Topics: data center power, SPM, Sentry Power Manager, data center reporting

Sentry Power Manager’s Easy Configuration

Posted by Linda Kennedy on Oct 3, 2016 3:22:48 PM

 

SNAP-01.pngIf you’re a data center system administrator, you’ll agree that the key to your success is in the details – your absolute attention to details. Award-winning Sentry Power Manager (SPM) makes it unbelievably easy to set all the details of your intelligent rack PDUs just how you want them and right where you want them. So, you can breathe a sigh of relief for the easy configuration of SPM and the control over your data center – right down to the last detail.
Do you ever feel like what’s supposed to be intuitive turns out to be a pain to do? You might have worked with systems like that, but it won’t be Sentry Power Manager. The well-designed SPM graphical interface lets you zip through a custom configuration in three easy steps. That’s right, just three.

Step 1. Connecting. Set system-wide values for SPM, manage SPM users, and maintain system backups.

All system, network, and email notifications are right here in one place so you can first make all the necessary connections. Then you can quickly establish users, set up user groups and their resources, and get LDAP and TACACS+ ready to roll.

Step 2. Configuring PDUs. Set operational values for your intelligent rack PDUs and use SNAP to mass-configure multiple PDUs.

Discover devices by adding intelligent rack PDUs to the system so they’re recognized by SPM for network communication. Use Server Technology’s patented SNAP technology to quickly push down key system and security settings for mass PDU configuration. Manage all areas of your devices: operations: environment, outlets, thresholds, predictive power, and more.

Step 3. Alerting. Set the measurement-based areas of your intelligent rack PDUs like alerts for breaker or fuse errors per branch, status of monitors and sensors, and overload on device lines.

Specify thresholds for total power alerts, edit PDU name, and determine the PDU’s parent cabinet. Configure high/low critical/warning current (A) settings and the reference name for one or multiple SPM-discovered device lines.

That’s it for SPM configuration. Done and done!

See for yourself how easy setting up SPM really is in the 2-minute video How to Configure SPM.

Take a closer look at the power of SNAP for mass PDU configuration in the 3-part video playlist Welcome to SNAP.

Every data center should be using the award-winning Sentry Power Manager, so now’s the time to give easy configuration a test drive with the SPM 120-Day Free Trial.

Topics: SPM, Sentry Power Manager, SNAP

Improving Efficiency With Sentry Power Manager

Posted by Josh Schaap on Jul 29, 2016 2:28:41 PM

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Today’s data center managers are looking for cost-effective, reliable and hassle-free ways to aggregate all of their key measurement points in an effort to maximize uptime, improve efficiency and analyze capacity. As far as data center tools go, there’s none more versatile than Sentry Power Manager, the award-winning data center management solution from Server Technology.

Here are just a few ways SPM helps with overall efficiency: 

  1. Working in conjunction with Server Technology’s POPS PDUs, Sentry Power Manager reports to data center managers on the IT device loading trends so they can make comparisons with the total facility power for PUE calculations. By analyzing per cabinet and per device power and energy usage, you begin to see the full picture of small- and large-scale efficiency.
  1. SPM allows you to schedule outlets to automatically turn off when the equipment isn’t in use. This gives you the means to power down non-essential devices during idle times such as nights and weekends, helping save as much as 40 percent in energy that would otherwise be wasted.
  1. By measuring and tracking temperature variations within – and between - racks, SPM provides you the ability to keep an eye on cooling loads. With this knowledge, you can continually verify that the cooling load reduction isn’t a threat to the reliability of your data center’s equipment.

Featuring custom views for relevant data, alarm monitoring and management along with the ability to configure Server Technology PDUs en masse, SPM is an indispensible addition to any data center. Learn more about SPM or take it for a test drive with a live demo today.

Topics: SPM, capacity planning

Keeping Up With Data Demands In The Medical Field

Posted by Erik Stabile on May 3, 2016 4:37:15 PM

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Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Wise, biological scientist in the oncology lab of Christopher Cogle

Things, as they say, change. This statement holds particularly true in the medical field, where advancements often take place at lightning speed. New technologies supplant old ones overnight, and best practices are rewritten with each passing day.

No one knows this more than our client, University of Florida Health. As technologies such as X-ray and PET scans have been converted from film to digital imaging and as medical records transition from paper to digital, the need for secure, HIPAA-compliant servers has grown exponentially. As a result, UF Health has expanded from a single data center to four over the past decade, with Data Center Manager Joseph Keena overseeing each move.

Keena and UF Health were recently eyeing a new data center space with a higher ceiling than normal, which would allow his team to deploy racks taller than 42U. To accommodate this new space, Keena needed a customer power solution to fit the cabinets and increased power densities that came with them. Unsure of whether blade servers or 1U would work best, Keena and his team contacted the power strategy experts at Server Technology.

The answer came in the form of Server Technology’s Switched family of products, which enabled Keena’s team to access their PDUs remotely while gathering environmental and power data. With Sentry Power Manager added into the mix, Keena was able to add environmental probes to his cabinets so he could see the temperature and humidity at a granular, rack-by-rack level.

Today, Keena and the UF Health team are armed with detailed data they could have only previously dreamed about. With the environmental data at his command, Keena can draw up graphical representations of all points within the data center, overlaying this information with real time data. He can also use SPM’s graphs and trending reports to prevent outages due to bad power supplies.

UF Health’s decades-long partnership with Server Technology is a testament to the power of working with customers to find workable solutions to their problems, something we do every day.

Click to Read the UF Health Case Study

 

Topics: switched PDUs, SPM, case study

Zombies In the Data Center: Exclusive Interview With Calvin Nicholson

Posted by Josh Schaap on Mar 13, 2016 9:22:00 AM

 

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On a show like “The Walking Dead,” it’s relatively easy to dispatch a zombie. A quick headshot or katana slash will usually solve your problem. In the data center, zombies are just as prevalent, but not quite as easy to kill. First, you have to identify them. Data center zombies don’t exactly shamble around with their mouths agape, but they can do just as much damage as their fictional counterparts if left unchecked.

Server Technology’s Senior Director of Software and Firmware Development Calvin

Nicholson recently explained the zombie server situation. As data centers have grown, the number of overlooked servers that aren’t carrying their weight has grown exponentially, he said. In fact, a recent Computer World article suggests as many as one in three servers may be zombies. Nicholson said these servers leave as much as 40 percent of their loads sitting idle, something that adds up in costs pretty quickly. While it’s not quite a zombie apocalypse out there, it is troubling for any data center manager concerned with saving both the environment and quite a few dollars.

“When you have a data center that grows and evolves, not everyone is watching every single device,” Nicholson said. “For whatever reason, some servers are not doing any useful work. They’re not adding any value and they’re in your rack taking up space.”

Fortunately, Server Technology provides a simple solution to the epidemic of server sprawl or zombie servers: Sentry Power Manager.

“You can’t improve something you’re not monitoring,” Nicholson said. “So, we monitor at the outlet device level and at the infeed level. We even monitor at the branch level so you don’t blow a circuit.”

Nicholson said SPM plays a vital role in seeing which of your servers are useful and which are zombies.

“The value is you’re gaining greater efficiency and not wasting expensive power,” he said.

To highlight the issue of zombie servers, Server Technology will be on hand and two upcoming industry shows: Interop 2016, held May 4-5 in Las Vegas and AFCOM’s Data Center World global conference in Las Vegas March 14-18. Server Technology will host a booth where participants can take a turn playing “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3” on an Xbox. The mission: To kill as many zombies as you can in one minute.

At previous conferences, Server Technology has hosted virtual golf games to attract conference goers, but Nicholson said the zombie approach should hit home with anyone concerned with realizing data center savings.

“The idea is to get people’s attention and talk about a common issue in a way that makes sense,” Nicholson said. “One way to be more efficient is to do away with bunch of servers not doing anything for you.”

To learn more about Sentry power Manager or download a free SPM demo, visit our website. And, if you’re at Interop or AFCOM, drop by the Server Technology booth and say hello. You might even rack up a few zombie kills while you’re at it.

 

Topics: SPM, Sentry Power Manager, zombie servers