Home Asia-Pacific I 2014 Power struggles: Managing IT’s hidden fear

Power struggles: Managing IT’s hidden fear

by david.nunes
Wei Shen Issue:Asia-Pacific I 2014
Article no.:13
Topic:Power struggles: Managing IT’s hidden fear
Author:Wei Shen
Title:VP, Marketing for Power Quality, Electrical Sector – APAC
PDF size:333KB

About author

Mr Wei Shen is Vice President, Asia Pacific Region, for Power Quality business of Eaton’s Electrical Sector. He is responsible for spearheading the strategy for Power Quality business throughout the region, including sales, marketing, technology and product development. He is based in Shanghai, China.

Prior to this, Mr Shen was General Manager, Eaton Power Quality China and was responsible for leading the power quality business in China, driving business growth and profitability in UPS products, critical power solutions, and service. Before that he was the business unit manager and integration leader for the Chloride/Ptec joint venture.

Wei Shen holds a bachelor’s degree in automation from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in China, a master’s degree in industrial engineering from University of Michigan, and a master’s degree in engineering management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Article abstract

With growing reliance on ICT, the great fear is faltering power that would bring down data centers and the entire communication network. Rising costs of energy ensures that power consumption is a key item on the IT budget. Power flexibility and reliability are also major factors. Improvements can be achieved by standardizing the equipment, e.g. plug types, and installing pre-engineered power solutions with pre-tested wiring systems. Mean time to repair is just as important as mean time to failure, when balancing modular component swapping with simpler parts management. To optimize energy utilization, it is also vital to evaluate the quality of power, which today can be accomplished by on-site monitoring instruments.

Full Article

Secure communications means reliable power, even when systems energy consumption and users requirements keep changing. CIOs live with changes every day. This quarter your organization may need new servers to support new applications, plus redundancy to meet Sarbanes-Oxley requirements, plus disaster recovery provisions for critical systems and data. Next quarter, the scenario could be reshaped by server consolidation, downsizing, corporate mergers, organizational upheaval or technology upgrades. Ensuring that you have the right power systems to enable your organization’s dynamic ambitions can be crucial. That is why power, the essential commodity once taken for granted, now factors into IT planning decisions in a big way. The simple truth is that even if you have ample budget and space to support IT growth, the quality of your power determines whether your business and IT aspirations are built on lofty or solid foundations.

Rewiring concerns
The problem is that IT is consuming more power than before. Electricity used in data centers in 2010 accounted for between 1.1 per cent and 1.5 per cent of total electricity use, according to a 2011 study by Jonathan Koomey on behalf of New York Times. Surprisingly, data centers currently use as much power as the airline industry.

Power can limit data center growth. For instance, while it is physically possible to put 42 1U servers in a single rack, that load would exceed all but the most ambitiously overbuilt power delivery systems and the rack would be as hot as an oven. Hot spots of power consumption or cooling requirements also create a big strain on facility systems.

Yes, you can spread high-density equipment across several racks to level the load on power and cooling systems. However, it is only a temporary solution as it adds cost and complexity. Besides, reliability may be compromised by the difficulty of maintaining widespread systems.

Power concerns are going beyond IT as well. Business units within organizations are always seeking to satisfy ever-changing business requirements, and they turn to their IT teams to provide the systems to make that work. They are not expected to consider all the behind-the-scenes logistics of making that happen, and they do not. Power is not even one of the top four worries on IT managers’ minds, according to the Network Computing survey, “This Old Data Center” (2005). However, power systems can make or break the business case, now that power costs are approaching 50 percent of a typical enterprise IT budget.

Managing change
There are many ways to achieve power flexibility and reliability. Below are some proven strategies:

Strategy 1: Standardize on a set of core attributes.
If you buy products that have consistent energy ratings, plug types and management interfaces, you can greatly reduce the complexity of the power chain. Simplicity always saves money. For example, fewer plug types means less need for diversity in receptacles, power strips and power distribution units. Consistent energy ratings enable diverse equipment to be effectively served from a single UPS. Consistent management interfaces enable system administrators to move easily from one system to another. Knowledge gained with one system can be applied to comparable systems across the enterprise.

Until recently, modular infrastructure solutions tended to focus on the needs of individual servers and networking appliances. A more holistic approach does far more to reduce the complexity of the overall solution.

Strategy 2: Deploy standardized, pre-engineered power solutions.
There has been a lot of focus in recent years on pre-engineered, modular infrastructures to house communication and IT systems in data centers and wiring closets. This approach provides a pre-tested, ready-to-install infrastructure that is naturally more robust and flexible than piece-part solutions assembled on-site, often in an ad-hoc fashion.

Prefabricated wiring systems are engineered and tested at the factory, then shipped with all components in place within the enclosure. At the site, installation is easy, and the new wiring closet is a standardized part of the complete power chain. Structured wiring solutions address power needs in a cost-effective, energy-efficient manner.

Strategy 3: Look at both sides of the availability equation.
Mean time between failures (MTBF) is a good indicator of the robustness of power equipment, but the reality is that electro-mechanical devices, no matter how well made, will someday falter or fail, or at least require service. So, when evaluating equipment, it’s important to consider mean time to repair (MTTR) as well as MTBF. Both metrics should be assessed, measured and optimized for the entire power system, not just for raised-floor equipment.

Admittedly, achieving good ratings on both measures, MTBF and MTTR, has been somewhat of a balancing act of conflicting forces. For instance, the industry moved toward modular components that could be easily swapped out for speedy repair. This approach often added complexity that made systems more prone to failure in the first place. Simpler designs with fewer components lead to greater reliability but can increase time to repair.

Strategy 4: Choose the most energy-efficient components you can find.
The more efficient the components of the power chain are, the more real power is available for IT systems to accommodate growth and change. With best practices and the right choice of equipment, data center managers can reduce energy consumption by nearly 50 percent.

Empowering listening
How would you know whether adaptive changes in the IT environment are stressing portions of your power systems and putting your critical applications at risk? The clues to impending trouble, such as fast, transient aberrations in the waveform, can appear and disappear in microseconds. In addition, harmonics, voltage fluctuations, transient over-voltage conditions and other power anomalies can wreak havoc on your equipment and processes.

It is essential to fully understand the quality of the power that is being delivered throughout the facility. If you have detailed event information, you can pinpoint the root causes of problems or prevent them from occurring. In the past, basic power monitors were used to identify existing conditions on an electrical distribution system or to evaluate past problems. If you wanted to detect fast voltage transients, you had to bring in portable power quality monitors that cost up to US$20,000 and usually required an outside consultant.

Thanks to recent technology advancements, you can now match the sampling rate of those high-end systems in compact, affordable devices. These permanently installed instruments monitor record and analyze critical aspects of an electrical distribution system. With this knowledge, you can optimize energy utilization, process performance and cost, no matter how rapidly your IT architecture changes.

Case Study: Eaton solution strengths to build large data center in China
Chinese-based Range International Information Group has adopted Eaton Power Xpert 9395 UPS solution for its next-generation cloud computing data center. The high reliability and energy efficient architecture featured with paralleling capability of Eaton’s solution empowers Range’s data center with safe and reliable pure power protection at all times. The independently system (including patented innovation Powerware Hot Sync) prevents any system-level single point of failure. Configured with inherent redundancy, the data center enables to increase its scalability and easily upgrade its solution without purchase of an additional UPS.

Located in the China National Economic and Technical Development Zone of Langfang in Hebei province, the data center will play a pivotal role in integrating cloud computing with the platform of Internet of Things – under the province’s five-year plan.

If you manage a data center – or you care about the profitability of an organization that has one – you know how critical flexibility and adaptability have become. But the IT infrastructure is only as flexible and adaptable as the power system that feeds it.

The good news is that technology solutions and best practices are available to mitigate the limitations of previous-generation power systems and substantially raise the bar for new installations. Either way, you just have to ensure that power considerations are included in the planning horizon.

Related Articles

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More