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Monitoring power consumption in a rack

Published by Jason Koffler on 11 June 2012

Effective power utilisation has worked its way up the boardroom agenda in many businesses, data centres in particular where the medal of a low PuE (power usage Effectiveness) score is coveted, alongside reducing energy bills, carbon emissions and extending the life of expensive equipment. The rack is the one place where monitoring power consumption can reap the greatest rewards in terms of utilising energy properly and dismissing waste

In this article, we explain how today’s intelligent PDUs (power distribution units), coupled with energy monitoring systems, can enable customers to proactively and effectively take control of electricity consumption and distribution.

It is impossible to manage something that you are not monitoring. If you don’t know exactly how much electricity each rack is consuming at a voltage level or how many kilowatts, amps and kilowatts per hour, then you cannot take steps to control it. One of the best views of data centre power consumption comes from PDUs located within each rack.

There are three types of PDU: basic, metered and inline metered.

Basic PDUs

Aside from taking the supplied voltage and current and distributing it electrically to more common outlets, a basic PDU offers little in the way of management and control – aside from an on and off switch! If used in the rack it doesn’t add value.

Metered PDUs

A metered PDU provides active metering that enables energy optimisation and protection of circuits. This type of PDU offers user-defined alarms and real-time local and remote alerts to warn of potential overloads. Users can access and configure metered rack PDUs through secure Web, SNMP, or Telnet Interfaces.

Inline Metered PDUs

This type of PDU deploys built-in monitoring, security and networking capabilities and can be used in conjunction with basic rack PDUs to provide comprehensive strip-level metering and environmental monitoring. They can also power stand-alone equipment, such as large network switches, storage arrays, and mainframe computers.

This type of PDU gathers data on voltage, current, power factor, apparent power (kVA), active power (Watts), and kilowatts per hour (kWh) energy consumption. It can also provide room temperature and humidity information through optional plug-in sensors.

At Critical Power Supplies, we sell a range of single and three-phase in-line, metered, smart, switched and intelligent power distribution units – from basic to a fully-functioning, inline switched PDU with power monitoring, voltage regulation, stabilising capability and power factor correction. They can be fully customised.

Each individual rack should be fitted with its own PDU (and perhaps two PDUs for dual bus environments).

Monitoring power consumption in the rack also helps to support charge back of IT services and identify stranded capacity. It allows individual servers or other devices to be controlled remotely and it helps to prevent damaging and disruptive overload conditions from developing.

Energy organisations such as Energy Star (initially USA-based but now carrying global influence), The Green Grid and the Uptime Institute recognise and award businesses for their energy efficiency and ‘green initiatives’ and such an accolade can yield substantial commercial benefits. Monitoring rack power consumption will go a long way towards attaining such an acknowledgement.

For more information, or to talk to us about our range of power distribution units with remote monitoring, call 0800 978 8988 or click here