Friday, November 30, 2012

Asset Performance Management for IT and Data Centers

We are all likely using some tool to track IT assets. To that end, many use their asset management tool to manage the lifecycle of their IT and Data Center assets. However, most tools that provide lifecycle management of IT assets only look at the depreciation value of the asset or perhaps the cost to maintain the asset. Unfortunately, how can we really understand the lifecycle of an asset without also looking at the performance of this IT asset versus the costs to operate the asset and/or versus the cost to operate a new asset? With the rising costs of operating IT assets, PTS thinks it is time to borrow an idea from our manufacturing brethren who have developed tools to manage the performance and to optimize the production of their plant. After all, isn't a Data Center merely a manufacturing plant for processing and storing data? Much like a power plant wants to optimize electricity produced per unit of fossil fuel burned, we as operators of Data Centers need to optimize the IOPs (Input/Output Per Second) produced per kW (KiloWatt) consumed. The difference is there are numerous Asset Performance Management{APM} software tools for the manufacturing world to help optimize the plant by managing such issues as: • Reducing Operational Costs • Extending Asset Life • Delivering Higher Performance with Reduced Resources • Compliance with Regulations & Standards • Standardizing Asset Care Process or Practices • Dealing with Data Management & Islands of Data • Safety and Environmental Performance • Time-based PM tasks and the Need for CBM • Aging Workforce, Loss of Knowledge All of these issues addressed by today's manufacturing APM software tools, in PTS' opinion need to be addressed by APM tools for IT and Data Centers. In conjunction with several of our key partners, PTS has been leading the way with tools that provide the analytics to evaluate the performance of our IT and Data Center assets. Tools must analyze the performance of IT assets as well as quantify and recommend whether to retire, replace, consolidate, or maintain these IT assets:
Optimization tools should put facilities metrics on the same screen as IT metrics allowing data center operators the ability to view and close the gaps between planned capacity and IT and facility energy usage:
Tools need to go beyond a basic measurement like PUE (Power Usage Efficiency) that can be skewed by underutilized or rogue IT equipment and look at Server Compute Efficiency, which is the number of primary processes performed by the server versus the watts consumed by that server:
Finally, data center personnel cannot optimize the performance of their data center assets without managing the labor, tasks, parts and contracts needed to keep our entire data processing plant functioning 7x24:
We've highlighted just a few of the tools PTS has brought together to tackle the problem and build the foundation of Asset Performance Management for IT and Data Centers. It's comical when you think about how the IT and Data Center Industry prides itself on technology and software, yet one could argue there is better software available today to manage and optimize a paper mill than a data center. Wondering if lack of knowledge on the value and performance of IT and Data Center Assets are a problem in your organization and wondering what your organization is doing to address APM for your IT and Data Centers?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Preparing for the Next Disaster: Data Center Generator Deployment Considerations

PTS Data Center Solutions considers generators as a key to data center reliability. Supplementing a battery-based uninterruptible power supply (UPS) with an emergency generator should be considered by all data center operators. The question has become increasing important as super storms such as Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast United States knocked out utility power stations and caused many downed power lines, resulting in days and weeks of utility power loss.

Beyond disaster protection, the role of a backup generator to provide power is important when utility providers consider summer rolling blackouts and brownouts and data center operators see reduced utility service reliability. In a rolling blackout, power to industrial facilities is often shut down first. New data center managers should check the utilities contract to see if a data center is subject to such utility disconnects.

Following are questions to consider before, during, and after generator deployment.

What Should You Consider Before Generator Deployment?
  • Generator Classification / Type. Will the generator be classified as an Optional Standby power source for the data center, a Code Required Standby power source for the data center, or an Emergency back-up generator that also provides standby power to the data center?
  • Generator Size. When sizing a generator it is critical to consider the total current IT power load as well as expected growth of that IT load. Is specialized sizing software needed to properly size your generator?
  • Fuel Type. Will the generators be diesel or gas powered? There are pros and cons to both.
  • Deployment Location. Where will the generator be installed? Is it an interior installation or an exterior installation?
  • Exhaust and Emissions Requirements. What exhaust emissions standard are required in your town, region, or state?
  • Required Run-time. What is the expected run-time for the generator system? How much fuel needs to be on hand to support expected run-times?
What Should You Consider During Generator Deployment?
  • data center generatorsCommissioning. What is your commissioning plan? What type of rigging is required? What documentation is needed?
  • Load Testing. How will you perform load testing? Do you have access to a non-linear load bank with appropriate power factors for the generator to be tested?
  • Servicing. What will the service schedule be for the generator? How will the initial servicing be performed during final commissioning and testing?
What Should You Consider After Generator Deployment?
  • Service Agreement. Is a service agreement in place with the local generator manufacturer’s representative?
  • Preventative Maintenance. Preventative Maintenance should be performed at least twice a year. Most generator owners who envision their generator installation as being critical to their business execute a quarterly maintenance program.
  • Monitoring. How is the generator tied into the building monitoring system? Who is monitoring that system for generator and ATS systems failure?
  • Regular Testing. How often should testing completed to confirm availability of the generator? How should the testing be done?
  • Maintenance. What are the manufacturer recommended maintenance intervals, work plans, maintenance milestones? What other factors related to the operational characteristics of the generator need to be considered?

Friday, November 09, 2012

NJ Technology Council - Data Center Summit

PTS Data Center Solutions will be a conference sponsor for the 2012 New Jersey Technology Council Data Center Summit. Titled Working in the Clouds, the focus of the event is on the latest trends and innovative technologies driving the emergence of Next Generation Data Centers. There will be two panel discussions and PTS Data Center Solutions Founder & President, Pete Sacco, will be a panelist for the DCIM Challenges and Opportunities panel in the morning. This panel discussion will examine the world of Data Center Infrastructure Management as a catalyst to increase energy efficiency and control underlying data center operating costs.

2012 New Jersey Technology Council Data Center SummitThe afternoon panel entitled Data Center Options - Deployment Challenges - Solutions brings IT leaders from different industries together to share their data center experiences from due diligence to deployment. Solutions providers will offer examples of client objectives and services provided. The goal of this panel is to help you sort through identifying your data storage needs and the options and solutions that can help you achieve maximum return. If you are battling an IT deployment or storage problem, PTS can help you through our IT Solutions Group. We have a team of engineering experts including network and systems architects, server and storage engineers, virtualization engineers, and other IT-focused technical staff.

Who should attend this event?
  • C-level executives (CEO / CIO / COO / CFO / CTO)
  • Data Center Facilities Managers and Engineers, IT and Infrastructure Managers, Data Center Managers
  • Directors and Consultants, IT Directors, Infrastructure Directors, IT Consultants
  • Business Analysts, Finance Directors & Managers
When: December 13, 2012, from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM
Where: Eisenhower Conference Center, Livingston, NJ 07039