Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Acquisition of NTA’s Technology Consulting Assets

I’m pleased to announce that PTS has officially acquired critical components of Nassoura Technology Associates, LLC (NTA) including all of its technology consulting assets. If you are not already familiar with NTA, they were a leading technology consulting and engineering firm based in Warren, New Jersey who in-house developed the widely acclaimed software product, dcTrack3.0. Recently, Raritan, Inc. purchased NTA’s dcTrack3.0 product in a separate transaction.

NTA’s assets will enable us to expand our existing technology consulting service offerings including network, structured cabling, security, and audio/visual design. Furthermore, this acquisition enables us to enhance our existing library of technical drawings, specifications, and request for proposal (RFP) documentation. Also included in the acquisition was the transfer of documents for all NTA’s completed client projects across a broad spectrum of industries.

If you are a previous client of NTA, we will continue to maintain your design documents and provide you with the expert level of service you had become accustomed to as an NTA client. We are extremely excited to expand our customer base and to have this opportunity to improve our client deliverables by acquiring the assets of one of the most influential design firms serving the data center industry.

In addition to the acquisition of NTA’s technology consulting assets, we are also pleased to announce the addition of six (6) new employees to our growing family of data center experts. We are sure they will contribute substantially to PTS’ continued growth in 2009. The new employees include data center solutions professionals, Andrew Graham, Peter Graham, and Michael Piazza as well as architect, Michael Relton, and senior electrical engineer, Alex Polsky, P.E.

The latest new employee is data center software development and pioneer, Dave Cole. Dave has a storied history of developing software and hardware products for System Enhancement Corporation, later purchased by APC, and Hewlett-Packard. Most notably however, Dave founded and then sold his company, The Advantage Group, along with his industry leading data center support infrastructure device monitoring product to Aperture, later purchased by Emerson. Stay on the lookout for further announcements as to what Dave and I are up to.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Data Centers Understaffed and Underutilized?

The following news snippet from SearchStorage.com caught my eye and I couldn’t resist sharing it here:

Symantec Corp.'s State of the Data Center 2008 report paints a picture of understaffed data centers and underutilized storage systems.

The report, based on a survey of 1,600 enterprise data center managers and executives, found storage utilization at 50%. The survey also discovered that staffing remains a crucial issue, with 36% of respondents saying their firms are understaffed. Only 4% say they are overstaffed. Furthermore, 43% state that finding qualified applicants is a problem.

Really interesting numbers, particularly when it comes to staffing issues. With so many layoffs and other cutbacks happening, it’s not so surprising that firms feel understaffed. However, with the national unemployment rate reaching 7.2 percent for December, I don’t think finding qualified applicants will be as much of a problem in 2009. As for the underutilization of storage systems, this is a major contributor to high data center costs. If corporate budgets continue to get slashed, I can guarantee that virtualization is going to stay right at the top of most data center managers to-do lists for the foreseeable future.

(By the way, if you’re an unemployed techie, you might want to check out this article from CIO.com. Socialtext is offering its social networking tools free to laid-off workers who want to form alumni networks and share job leads.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Data Center Energy Efficiency in 2009

In my last post, I talked about how it will be more important than ever for data centers to increase their operating efficiencies in the coming year. But, as I’m sure you know, this isn’t a new issue. Boosting energy efficiency in data centers has been a major concern for the past few years, in both the public and private sectors. Doing so will help to produce large energy savings, enhance data center reliability, and cut carbon emissions by reducing the load on the electric grid.

To reach these goals, equipment suppliers are introducing more energy efficient technologies, data center operators are stepping up efforts to reduce energy consumption in their buildings, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have moved to address the issue by initiating a joint national data center energy efficiency information program. PTS helps our clients reach their efficiency goals through our power and cooling systems analysis, as well as via our CFD modeling services.

Now, with the recession in full swing, the financial impact of high data center energy consumption is becoming an even more pressing issue for corporations. In light of this, I'd like to share an article I came across in the latest issue of Wall Street & Technology, titled “5 Tips to Cut Data Center Energy Use”. It talks about how Gartner, a leading IT research and consulting firm, has outlined 11 best practices for cooling that can help dramatically improve data center energy efficiency.

While you have to buy the full Gartner report to get all 11 practices, the WS&T article gives you the top 5 for free. Here’s a quick rundown:

1. Plug Holes in the Raised Floor.
2. Install Blanking Panels.
3. Coordinate CRAC Units.
4. Improve Underfloor Airflow.
5. Implement Hot Aisles and Cold Aisles.

For more info on data center energy efficiency, I invite you to download our newest white paper, titled “Power Moves: Understanding what you know - and don't know - about power usage in your data center”.

Until next time, happy holidays and best wishes for a prosperous new year!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Get the Most Out of Your Data Center in 2009

With the economy in turmoil and fears of recession keeping corporate budgets tight, it’s important that organizations get the most bang-for-the-buck with their IT resources. With that in mind, I’d like to recommend another article that looks to the coming year with a proactive mindset.

Utility Automation & Engineering T&D and Electric Light & Power online recently published the “Top 10 Ways to Get More from Your Data Center in 2009”, as outlined by Chuck Spears of Emerson Network Power. The suggestions include:

1. Cover your bases.
2. Look inside before outside.
3. Assess before action.
4. Go from room to rack.
5. Cap the cold aisle.
6. Check the weather forecast.
7. Watch often, if not always.
8. Improve energy utilization.
9. Avoid cutting corners.
10. Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.

While the article acknowledges that “[t]he coming year will undoubtedly require data center and IT managers to get maximum value from their facility without making significant enhancements”, it urges data center managers to bear in mind that “numerous opportunities exist throughout the data center to do more with less.”

I like to frame it in the following terms: “Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.” Lean times can help trim the fat from your operations and can encourage your business to make the most of what it has. In doing so, your organization may emerge stronger than ever before.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Top 10 IT Trends for 2009

Baseline, a magazine for technology leaders and business executives, just published a great slideshow on the IT trends to watch in 2009.

Knowledge of the top industry trends can make your company more agile when it comes to implementing information technology and “can give your company the advantage it needs to do business in this challenging economic environment.”

The highlighted trends include:
  • Software as a service (cloud computing),
  • Continued virtualization of data center technologies, and
  • The move toward energy-efficient data centers.
(They’ve also posted a slideshow on the 50 most influential people in business IT. Are you one of them?)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PTS to Provide Services for Verari’s FOREST Container Data Center

I’m happy to announce that PTS Data Center Solutions has partnered with Verari Systems to provide design and construction services for Verari’s FOREST Container data center consolidation solution. The combination of Verari’s modular, portable data center that is deployable virtually anywhere, with the broad project expertise of PTS, provides organizations with a complete and secure “ready to go” alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar data centers.

Unlike the traditional bid-build process which costs more, takes more time to execute and requires more resources to manage, the Verari/PTS FOREST Container construction strategy condenses the exercise into a clear and concise process. The combination of a portable data center with our turnkey services addresses consolidation needs with minimal disruption to business operations.

Recently named as a finalist in the “Clean Technology Category” of the 15th Annual AeA San Diego Council's High Tech Awards, the FOREST container is designed to house over 2000 blade-based compute servers or nearly 12 petabytes of blade-based storage by utilizing Verari’s BladeRack® 2 X-Series platforms in a modular unit. Energy spending is dramatically reduced by the Verari FOREST Container’s ultra efficient power subsystems and patented Vertical Cooling Technology™, boosting reliability, performance and availability.

Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Data Center Decisions Conference in Chicago

This Thursday, October 23rd, I’ll be a featured speaker at the 2008 Data Center Decisions Conference in Chicago, IL. This year’s conference will focus on four major topics: data center design, systems management, virtualization, and disaster recovery.

While the pace of data center and facility design improvements has continually lagged that of IT systems demand, in the last two years vendors have been rolling out various tools to help engineers design appropriate power and cooling infrastructure as well as help data center managers plan for IT capacity growth. My presentation delves into the capacity planning and modeling tools available for data center design and management.

In addition to providing an overview of the data center facility design life-cycle, I’ll discuss the tools available, review their functionalities, and advise on which data center products are worth using. This will cover new capacity planning tools from APC, Emerson/Aperture, and Rackwise as well as the role of CFD modeling software and services. I’ll also be available for questions during the daily exhibit hall receptions "Ask the Expert" segment.

For complete conference information and to register for free admission, visit the Data Center Decisions website at http://datacenterdecisions.techtarget.com/. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Ongoing Maintenance & Monitoring

It is an obvious truism that given enough time everything will fail. The only tool we have at our disposal to hopefully delay this eventuality is maintenance service. Unfortunately, it’s another truism that for most small computer room operations, this vital step is not performed. As is unfortunately typical, we often put off short-term inconvenience for future unplanned and unpredictable grief.

Whatever the circumstance, there are plenty of tools to simplify the organization, planning, scheduling, and performance of field preventative maintenance. Real-time monitoring systems can serve as the front line of defense against unplanned outages.

PTS emphasizes utilizing IP and Web technologies to oversee and control critical support systems from just about anywhere. For power monitoring, we prefer to take advantage of the growing trend in the power strip manufacturing industry by having clients deploy power strips that can measure at the receptacle, therefore at the device level. For example, simple alarming of support infrastructure as critical load values approach predetermined thresholds will prevent against failures due to overload conditions and therefore curtail availability stripping outages.

In any case, monitoring systems for IT attributes and physical attributes should provide proactive management and enable the quick assessment of your present situation and notify the appropriate personnel should situations that threaten availability.

Is preventative maintenance high enough on your data center to-do list? What technologies do you rely on to monitor your critical systems?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Receptacle Level Load Monitoring & Control

Power monitoring and control at the receptacle or rack level is a hot topic lately. Part of the interest can be attributed to the lure of the unknown – that feeling of “I’m not sure why I want it, but I’ll probably need it!” But there are some really solid reasons for data center managers to consider receptacle-level power monitoring/control solutions.

The ability to trace watts information at the power strip level gives a much clearer picture of how much power a data center consumes. If I have an under-performing asset, it’s easy to earmark for replacement if the problem can be measured down to the receptacle level. If an asset is under-utilized, it can be easily targeted for virtualization.

There are a number of products that can be used for receptacle-level power monitoring and management. Take, for instance, the RPC series of power management solutions from Baytech. These units let you manage power more efficiently by remotely turning on/off receptacles or rebooting unresponsive equipment. (You can read more about Baytech’s products in “Better Monitor & Control Power” at Processor.com.)

Raritan offers Remote Power Control (RPC) units that allow you to control power usage at the socket level. The units have individual LED indicators for each receptacle and, in the case of an outage, offers receptacle status retention so that power is restored only to those assets that were on previously.

There are also the Synaptix™ power distribution units from Epicenter. These products come in a variety of receptacle configurations, offer the ability to measure consumption at each individual receptacle, and can be accessed remotely.

It will be interesting to measure the true impact of these units on data center power efficiency. Don’t be surprised to find me writing a white paper on the use of receptacle-level power solutions in the coming months.

Monday, August 04, 2008

New White Paper on Power Usage

Managing data center power usage is critical due to rising energy costs and diminishing supplies. But where do you start?

To help answer this question, PTS Data Center Solutions in collaboration with Raritan, a leading manufacturer of power management products, developed a new white paper that examines the myths and realities of power usage in the data center.

Entitled “Power Moves: Understanding what you know - and don't know - about power usage in your data center”, the white paper shows IT professionals how to calculate data center power efficiency and set standards to align with the Green Grid. Its findings are based on a series of tests which examined the effects of heat, airflow and power usage in a working server environment using 3-D CFD software and intelligent power distribution units (iPDUs), among other devices.

The hypothesis was that, by knowing more about their real-time operational environment, data center managers would be empowered to manage smarter. Key findings include:
  • Servers are not necessarily needed to add computational power;
  • OpEx expenses can be reduced without putting required computing at risk; and
  • Running servers at 80 to 100 percent can be more beneficial than running at the industry average of 60-80 percent.

To download the free white paper, please visit the PTS Media Library.