In just two decades the way servers consume power has changed beyond imagination. Back in the day variances in server power was largely due to disk drive spin-up and fans being invoked. Today's complex server configurations means that variances in power required for disk utilisation is reduced but more power is consumed when computational loads are enforced.
Today's processing techniques means that equipment has additional power management capabilities like moving virtual loads, auto changing clock frequencies and adjusting voltage magnitudes. So while the power variation impact was in the low percentiles two decades ago, today's servers can vary with easily up to 50% to 100% on-demand power increases. This can result in numerous issues, including overheating, branch circuit overload and loss of redundancy.
As a consequence measuring power consumption at power strip level when feeding a cluster of servers has never been so important. If you know your total power available is for example 16 amps, loading more than 50% power consumption on a single power strip can be dangerous. By measuring the power consumption over time you can study trend data and over a given period identify where power spikes are and how high they reach when servers are at maximum stress levels.
Servers in general consume power and release it as heat, but when there are large variances in consumption because of workloads, the heat released from IT equipment also rises.
Therefore sudden fluctuations in server power consumption can cause dangerous increases in temperature, creating unplanned heat spots. While data centres have cooling systems, they may not be designed to handle specific localised hot spots. As temperature rises, equipment is likely to auto-shut down or act abnormally. Many intelligent power strips have on-board temperature sensors and this can be added to by including separate temperature probes to monitor intake and vented temperature.
Equally important is knowing the power draw of your equipment in a non-stressed state; for example if you know you have 5 servers drawing 2.5 amps each from a single power strip you can conclude if there is a drop of more than 2.5 amps on global power consumption means it is likely a server has suffered a catastrophic fault.
A good example of the benefit of monitoring the power at PDU level with OmniWatch is our easy to use on-demand report function. One of our customers had to re-locate strategic file servers at short notice due to the closure of one of its remote depots. The equipment had to be moved and installed over a single weekend into an already busy data centre (also being monitored). Because the remote depot had the foresight to run equipment off intelligent power strips the client could evaluate the OmniWatch trend data over many months to check true peak levels of power consumption down to individual server. They could plan in advance where the equipment needed to be installed with ease and peace of mind knowing there was plenty of headroom when the moved equipment went live.
As illustrated above, there are key benefits to monitoring the power at PDU level for your server and IT rooms. Typical conditions monitored are:
With OmniWatch's power monitoring function IT personnel can plan ahead on where to site new power hungry servers with intelligent load balancing forecasts and planned maintenance programs.
A common concern, similar to environmental monitoring, is that all individual intelligent power strips rely on technology to contact you for any problems, but what happens if this fails. We all know what it’s like when email is down or when your mobile is out of battery or signal. We guarantee to contact you with our 3-tier emergency contact procedure; email, 2-way SMS and dedicated 24/7 call centre for all critical alarms.
It's our job to let you know of a problem before it escalates to a disaster. That's why our customers rest assured knowing we've got them covered 24/7.
"Following a potential disaster when an entire switch chassis shared an overloaded Power Distribution Unit (PDU), we had a new requirement to monitor mains and UPS power consumption at Power Distribution Unit level for each of our IT racks in head office. We wanted a service that was easy to use and uncomplicated. Spook had a proven track record in monitoring the environment of our key server rooms across the UK and we decided to extend this to include the power monitoring."