Data centers all over the world have filled a very important role in this modern computer-linked society. From the modest server room to the corporate level data center, companies of all sizes use these centers to store sensitive information and critical data. For those IT professionals who are responsible for the running the IT equipment, staying on top of efficiency might take up a good portion of their time. In general, effective management of the equipment comes down to consistent monitoring and accurate measurements:
- 1. Install a Reliable Network of Temperature Sensors
Any amount of IT equipment will generate some heat. A small laptop at home is as sure of adding to the room’s temperature as a much larger IT department. As the need for IT utilization grows, the need for cooling systems has also grown. Now, in addition to handling the IT equipment, IT professionals must also be aware of the associated cooling systems. The temperatures between racks at a data center or generated by different types of equipment can vary widely. A network of data sensors is a good way to monitor and manage the temperature of equipment, ensuring that the equipment stays within ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers) recommendations and protecting the equipment from over-heating.
- 2. Monitor Power Usage at Various Points
There has been a great deal of discussion concerning the efficacy of power usage effectiveness (PUE) measurements. These measurements can be difficult and time-consuming to take, leading some professionals to believe that the measurement is not important. The PUE is typically found by dividing the total facility energy by the IT equipment energy. The best PUE is 1.0. This measurement answers the question, “How well is the equipment using the amount of power being delivered to it?” Without taking a PUE measurement, it can be very hard to determine whether or not power and equipment is being used efficiently.
- 3. Automate the Collection of UPS and PDU Data
With an awareness of the difficulties present in obtaining the PUE measurement, use an automated method of collecting data from the UPS and the protocol data unit (PDU). Energy efficiency monitoring equipment, hardware and software, can reduce the consumption of energy, while at the same time improving the productivity of the IT equipment.
- 4. Prevent Threats to Rack-based Equipment
In a data center with multiple racks or even a large IT department with at least one rack, there are some common risks. These include:
- Malicious tampering
- Accidental damage
- Too much humidity
- Inappropriate temperatures
- The presence of smoke
Maintaining a constant visual upon the racks may not be possible, but the use of a monitoring system can alert IT professionals to open rack doors, increasing temperatures or humidity, and the presence of other threats. Connect a monitoring unit to the central monitoring system for faster response times.
- 5. Detect the Presence of Liquids and Fluid Leaks
Just about any owner of electronics knows how dangerous just a small amount of liquid can be. A few drops of water on the motherboard can render a computer completely useless. One water leak in a data center can lead to thousands of dollars lost due to downtime and equipment damage. Both of these situations can lead to data loss, frustrated customers, and decreased productivity. A system for monitoring leaks should be established around water lines, glycol piping, drain lines and condensate drains, unit drip pans, and the humidifier supply. This system can be set up with the central monitoring system or as a stand-alone system.
- 6. Install Intelligent Control of Precision Cooling
Maintaining a precise temperature inside an IT department or data center is crucial. Without intelligent controls, maintaining the precise temperature and level of humidity would be difficult and impractical. An intelligent control system will help the units to work uniformly instead of in competition with each other.
- 7. Include Intelligent Control of Critical Power
The same reasons for monitoring temperatures with intelligent controls may be used for monitoring critical power with the controls. The digital controls can be used to optimize the specific performance of uninterruptible power systems (UPSs). The intelligent controls can also manage the switch between traditional operation and the backup systems used when outages or overloads occur. Additionally, the controls might monitor the conditions at the site.
- 8. Utilize Alerts and Alarms
Protecting the IT department from any downtime, even a fraction of a second, is crucial for equipment efficiency. Even the briefest power outage can disrupt systems, prompt a reboot, and lead to several days of reduced productivity. With a reliable system that provides notifications of any event that might lead to a power failure, IT professionals can respond to those sources of trouble before an outage occurs.
- 9. Keep an Eye on Battery Levels
Data centers routinely use a battery monitoring system to protect against power outages. Without this maintenance, the center runs the risk of losing UPS system power failure when that power supply is most critical. Use a monitoring system to monitor the health of the batteries in all UPS units.
- 10. Consider Remote Management or Monitoring of IT Equipment
By shifting the burden from internal IT personnel to a remote source, a devoted organization can bring combined resources and expertise to the task of measuring and monitoring the use of IT energy. As troublesome issues arise, the remote organization can handle the IT crises while other professionals can focus on responding to trouble on location. This suggestion may not be appropriate for all IT departments, but might be an option to consider if the IT staff is already struggling to complete necessary tasks.
Whatever the size of your IT department, keep in mind the common adage, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” This holds true for the monitoring and measuring involved with IT equipment efficiency. With reputable and accurate monitoring systems, the IT professionals can better track and maintain the efficiency of their equipment.