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Don't Underestimate the Risk of Human Error in the Data Center

Posted by RJ Tee on Jun 13, 2017 8:15:00 AM

On May 27, a major international airline was forced to cancel more than 400 flights following a critical data center power outage.

According to Network World, the trouble started when an engineer disconnected a critical power supply at a London-based data center. When the engineer tried to reconnect the system, it generated a large power surge that in turn caused the outage. Sources indicate that the power-up was handled “in an unplanned and uncontrolled fashion.”

Altogether, 75,000 people were stranded at the airport following the incident. And the power surge also created a considerable amount of damage for the airline — to the tune of at least $112 million.

Of course, this is just one example of human error causing a major interruption at an organization. In fact, Network World pointed to a 2016 Ponemon Institute study claiming that human error is now the top cause of data center outages.

So for data center administrators, this begs the question:

What can you do to mitigate the risk of human error when handling sensitive data center power equipment?

Server Technology offers fail-safe power redundancy through its family of FSTS PDUs, which are available in smart, metered and switched models. These PDUs contain embedded branch circuit protection. Plus, managers can use FSTS PDUs to cycle power to outlets or groups for safe power-ups and power-downs.

View the Fail Safe Transfer Switch Data Sheet

Administrators can also use Server Technology’s Sentry Power Manager (SPM) to control access at the rack level. This can prevent unauthorized or unqualified individuals from accidentally cutting off power to a particular rack.

Discover the FSTS Family of PDUs

Topics: SPM Sentry Power Manager, human error, Fail-Safe power redundancy, FSTS

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

Still Using the PUE Standard In Your Data Center?

Posted by RJ Tee on Feb 3, 2017 1:38:53 PM

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For the better part of the last decade, IT professionals have been using a metric called Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) to measure data center energy efficiency.

But what exactly is PUE? And should you be using it to track energy efficiency in your facility?

Here’s what you need to know:

PUE is nothing more than a ratio that compares a data center’s total energy consumption to the energy that is consumed by its IT equipment. In other words, it’s a way of seeing how much power your servers are using, versus your lights. The ideal PUE for a data center is 1.0, while a reading closer to 2.0 indicates that for every kilowatt of electricity consumed by the equipment, another kilowatt is needed to power the facility.

PUE was first introduced back in 2006 by Green Grid, a non-profit organization of IT professionals. And despite the metric’s many shortcomings (PUE readings are highly prone to error and manipulation, to the point where it’s hard to take a reading seriously) the metric quickly emerged one of the most common ways to track data center energy consumption.

This has changed. In 2016, PUE was officially eliminated as an acceptable metric for data center power efficiency by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning (ASHRAE) — a global society committed to furthering sustainable construction. This happened when ASHRAE updated Standard 90.1, which offers recommended requirements for efficient energy design in buildings.

ASHRAE recognized that data centers have unique power management needs apart from common commercial spaces. So, the group created standard 90.4P specifically for data centers.

The ASHRAE 90.4 standard takes many factors into consideration, such as operation, maintenance, design and construction and the use of renewable resources. What’s more, ASHRAE 90.4P defines the data center as a conditioned space, room or building that has an IT equipment load exceeding 10kW, as well as a power utilization factor of more than 20-watts per square foot.

As of right now, the data center industry is still in the process of moving from standard 90.1 to 90.4P.

“We worked very hard to craft this standard in a manner that does not stifle innovation in the data center industry while simultaneously offering criteria to help ensure energy savings,” stated Ron Jarnagin, chair of the ASHRAE 90.4 committee. “It is important to keep in mind that data centers are mission critical facilities where risk management is the primary concern.”

Perhaps most importantly, the standard introduces two new metrics: Mechanical load components (MLC) and electrical loss components (ELC).

Here at Server Technology, we maintain that the easiest way to track energy usage in your facility is to take an automated, real-time approach to management. Using the Sentry Power Manager (SPM) in conjunction with intelligent power distribution units will provide you everything you need to track and plan for power efficiency.

 
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To learn more information, click here.

Topics: SPM Sentry Power Manager, PUE, Power Usage Effectiveness PUE

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

Why Should I Upgrade My Sentry Power Manager (SPM)?

Posted by Scott Kania on Jan 30, 2015 3:45:46 PM

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Often times I am asked, ‘why should I upgrade’? I am generally on the opposite end of this perspective and ask, ‘why wouldn’t I upgrade’? Either way, this is a question that is not as straightforward as it may seem.  Software users are often times hesitant to upgrade out of fear of newly introduced bugs or features which may not work as desired. To put it simply; users are fearful their system will not be as stable or may even degrade by upgrading. That’s rather a mouthful!  ;)

Aside from bug fixes, new features and expanded report options, our later versions are easier to support, offer security enhancements, and eliminate the risk of potentially being stuck with and obsolete version.  Support is often geared towards later versions which addresses more common issues across the customer base.

Log into the SPM Download Center to see the latest revision history/release notes as well as our instructional documents geared directly towards version to version upgrades.

 

Remember, Be Supported!

http://www.servertech.com/support

Topics: SPM Sentry Power Manager, Server Technology, upgrade, support