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Data Center Power Utilization
An in-depth understanding of power availability and consumption patterns within the data center is necessary for truly effective capacity planning and cost allocation.
EXELE Information Systems, Inc.
In the Data Center business, asset utilization is a key component to
success. Per outlet monitoring is the latest trend for
progressive thinking owner/operators and this is helping them with
strategic decisions. If you don’t know exactly what the cost of
running an application is, you don’t know how much to charge customers.
The rise in energy prices over the last two decades has transformed the once inconsequential cost component of doing business into a critical part of data center planning and execution. An in-depth understanding of power availability and consumption patterns within the data center is necessary for truly effective capacity planning and cost allocation.
Metrics develops data centers energy and operations optimization
software and specialized facility and IT integration services. One of
their software integration applications is the inclusion of smart power
strip technology in data center installations, providing more granular
monitoring and enabling the operators to gather real-time power
Infrastructure Monitoring and Control
Metrics uses an enterprise level data acquisition and historian to
monitor measurements from HVAC, temperature control, chilled water
systems and electrical distribution systems. The System’s
integrated data acquisition provides robust, real-time business
intelligence for the operation of the data center. This system is
a highly-scalable and secure infrastructure for the management of
operations data and events.
With the rising cost of energy and the competitive nature of data centers, the ultimate goal is better asset management. “Typically the facility operations guy gets the electrical bill, and if he can’t accurately determine whom to charge, it remains his expense”, explains Ken Morikawa, VP, Technology at Energy Metrics. “If they can track their asset utilization, then they can accurately charge business units for their energy usage”. In order to do this, smart power strips are used for per-outlet monitoring across the entire system. The rack smart power distribution units (PDU) capture values such as volts, current or watts, providing more granular monitoring of energy down to the cabinet unit level.
data aggregated from the PDUs is used to map application energy
consumption and to benchmark cost models. This allows facilities
operators to know the energy usage required to run an application and
then allocate these energy costs accordingly.
Real-time monitoring and notification
One of the challenges to successful implementation of a comprehensive smart power distribution monitoring system is the real-time monitoring of large amounts of power consumption data. The accuracy of each data point must be verified, outages must be recognized, and power usage levels must be compared to known capacities.
In order to accomplish this, Energy Metrics relies on EXELE TopView alarm management and notification software. The TopView software offers a direct and efficient connection to the system allowing large scale monitoring. “The benefit to using TopView is not just the ability to run multiple instances for scalability” said Ken Morikawa, “also the ease of deployment and its ability to handle a large number of data points.”
When you start monitoring different classes and categories of equipment, row and zone categories and each outlet per cabinet, the numbers become very significant. In one installation the system monitors over 750,000 points, with 250,000 in the cabinets alone. In a typical system, every monitoring point has the potential to be in different states. “We are monitoring to the specific outlet or breaker”, explains Morikawa, “so it has to be easy to map the alarm management application to the data.”
It is essential that operations knows at all times where they are compared to capacity. TopView is used to keep stakeholders informed at all times. Alarms are categorized based on severity. For example, at 80% of maximum load capacity a ‘warning’ notification may be sent, whereas at 90% a ‘critical’ condition message may be used. A tiered email distribution system can be setup so that different contact lists can be used depending on the time of day/week and the severity level of the alarm conditions. Unacknowledged alarms follow a configurable escalation plan. This helps in management of capacity and timely initiation of corrective action.
first installation using this smart monitoring design using EXELE
TopView software was piloted in 2011 in a small facility in Utah.
As a result of the success of that system, the same customer has since
had Energy Metrics install a system at their flagship data center
monitoring a growing percentage of over three quarters of a million
points. The client was able to reduce risk of outage by half and
is able to perform more accurate capacity planning gaining productivity
with the increased visibility to alarm conditions and energy
consumption data that this system offers, there is still untapped
potential. TopView stores and provides access to the history of
all alarm events through internal and external tools. At present, this
reporting capability represents an opportunity for
future improvement of Data Center operations. Customers have yet
to embrace the trending and historical data reporting available for
things like root cause analysis. “The nice thing about the
potential for operational improvements using this reporting is that it
already exists in the current system and doesn’t really require any
further infrastructure investment” said Ken Morikawa.
needs for managing asset utilization, tracking capacity and monitoring
per unit energy consumption are not going away and if anything are
becoming increasingly important. The upfront investment in a more
intelligent infrastructure monitoring and control system offers many
tactical and strategic benefits. Improved system reliability,
maximum load capacity alerting and the ability to accurately allocate
energy expenses to the appropriate cost centers or customers can offer
ongoing long term paybacks for data center operators wishing to succeed
in a competitive and changing environment.
About the Author
Overfield currently works with the direction and development teams for
Exele’s Process Data Analysis, Calculation, and Alarm Notification
products. Dane has been with Exele since 1991, primarily working with
and developing software for automation and historian products. He has
been involved with designing and implementing process solutions for
customers for over 20 years, most recently focusing on Exele’s TopView
and OPCcalc software products.
EXELE Information Systems, Inc. is a privately held consulting and software engineering company founded in 1978 specializing in manufacturing applications and process control. EXELE provides consulting, environmental reporting, and software products for process automation (OPC, SCADA, PI) and manufacturing systems. For more information, visit exele.com
About Energy Metrics
Energy Metrics provides software solutions that integrate real-time streaming data with historical data points, providing multiple views of information to provide a complete picture to make informed decisions that have a positive impact on future business outcomes. For more information, visit energymetricsllc.com
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