Feeds

Monitoring and managing power consumption

Reg Readers tell it like it really is

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Trevor PottTrevor Pott
Infrastructure Support Engineer

Power consumption and cooling are two issues that cannot be disentangled. Eventually you will put too many servers on a single breaker, or notice that servers in the back closet don’t work anymore if you close the door. Once a company has been faced with this realisation, they have begun the long road towards datacentre design.

Every watt consumed by a server is a watt you have to figure out how to cool. For the small business with a single server under a desk, neither cooling nor power consumption are likely to be an immediate issue. When you are small, power and cooling can be as simple as a second breaker and leaving the door open. When you are Google, both factors are such important considerations that they determine the location and specific design of billion dollar data centres. Somewhere in between is the real world of everyday datacentre operations.

Simple tools like a kill-a-watt or a power distribution unit (PDU) with a built-in ammeter can tell you what the power draw of your servers are. Test the servers under heavy stress, as modern servers are fairly good at backing down their power consumption when they are idle. You need to get an idea of what they are pulling when loaded. Once you know how much power the servers consume you can start doing a little basic maths to see how much power you will need for future expansion. Factor in that you have to cool all of that heat, and that the chillers will cost you power as well.

In the long run, you will need to measure a server’s power draw over time. Any decent uninterruptible power supply (UPS) should be able to give you information on how much load is being drawn from it. UPSs are often equipped to send statistics on power usage to a central monitoring server from which you can collect information for later analysis. Like UPSs, the nicer PDUs are networked and are granular enough to allow per-socket monitoring.

Monitoring of the chillers duty cycles can help give you an idea of how much headroom you have to add servers to the datacentre. If the chillers are fully engaged for the entirety of your datacentre’s peak period, it’s probably not a good idea to add servers without adding chillers. Another good idea is to invest in thermometers that can record statistics. You can get them as network-attached devices, and they are fantastic at helping you find hot spots in your datacentre.

Proper power planning goes beyond simply ensuring that you have enough breakers pulled into your datacentre. It also means ensuring that you aren’t overtaxing your UPSs. Monitor your usage, plan for peak consumption, and above all leave yourself headroom for growth.

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: Are you an Expert?

More from The Register

next story
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?