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Top Reasons Your DCIM Strategy Isn’t Working

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

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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

Make Better Power Management Decisions - Use SPM and Switched PDUs

Posted by RJ Tee on Mar 24, 2017 11:45:45 AM

John F. Kennedy once said that leadership and learning are indispensible to each other. In other words, if you want to be a good leader you need access to knowledge that will help you make informed decisions.

This quote applies directly to you, as an IT administrator who is responsible for ensuring that your servers remain up and running, and operationally efficient. After all, you can’t expect to make accurate power management decisions if you’re relying on guesswork and intuition. You need cold, hard data.

Here’s some good news:

Server Technology has the resources that you need to start making more informed data center power management choices. The two products that can help the most are Server Technology’s Sentry Power Manager (SPM)— a real-time, Web-based power management console — and switched power distribution units (PDU).

SPM is unique in that it allows for real-time visibility right down to the cabinet — and even device — levels. Armed with this intelligence, it’s possible to identify the areas where your servers are hogging the most resources. You can also set up SNMP alerts with SPM, for instant notification when servers exceed their allotted thresholds. Environmental thresholds can be established, too, so that corrective action can be taken if temperature or humidity levels spike or plummet.

One of the coolest parts about SPM is that you can use it to safely scale your power usage. For example, once you understand how certain cabinets are using power, you can then expand your operation to monitor individual “zones,” or groups , of cabinets. SPM will let you accurately predict the available resources for each zone, so that you’ll be aware of how much wriggle room you have when adding more cabinets.

Of course, using SPM you can scale even higher and understand your power usage metrics at an individual location. For instance, you may want to turn up more cabinets in a key data center located at the edge of the network. Using SPM, you will be able to see how much capacity you have in your remote infrastructure, and whether it’s a good idea to make the upgrade—or whether you need to invest in more system resources first. This data can help you avoid running into a capacity pinch.

This is particularly useful for startup operations, which are often forced to scale rapidly.

Oh, and as for our Switched PDUs? They will not only collect real-time intelligence, but they also make it possible to perform remote power toggling functions.

So it’s time to stop guessing about your data center’s power usage, and start taking a different approach —one built around real-time intelligence.

To learn more about Server Technology’s approach to data center power management, click here.  


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

 

Topics: SPM Sentry Power Manager, SPM, Switched PDU

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