Building powerful reports with rack PDUs

Building powerful reports with rack PDUs

Are your data aggregation techniques conducive to smarter business decisions?

Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software is often viewed as the centerpiece in the endeavor to optimize facility health. This most likely stems from the fact that DCIM performs data analysis and enables the creation of reports that drive better decision-making.  

However, DCIM's ability to generate compelling reports that are of equal use to facility management and business stakeholders depends on existing infrastructure's capacity for data collection. Case in point, power and environmental data are crucial components of almost any reputable data center performance metric: power usage effectiveness (PUE), performance indicator (PI), performance per wattage (PPW) and data center energy productivity (DCEP).

Accurately assessing facility health and performance therefore requires precise, rack-level power and environmental monitoring, and that's a job best left to intelligent power distribution units (PDUs). 

Diving deeper than rack kW

"Data center operators can measure the impact of an individual device on the overall environment"

Measuring rack kW is one thing, but remote, outlet-level power monitoring is another entirely. For one, managers can compare the amount of energy each device consumes against its CPU utilization. This can help weed out poor-performing IT equipment, i.e., devices that consume an inordinate amount of electricity relative to the amount of useful work they perform for the facility.

But taken a layer deeper, data center operators can more accurately measure the impact of an individual device on the overall environment. This is where hot-swappable intelligence ports come in handy. Intelligent PDUs can be retrofitted with temperature, humidity and airflow sensors. Thus, relationships between power usage, CPU utilization, temperature and other environmental datasets can be understood with newfound precision. All of these metrics are collected in the same location, and contextualized in relation to one another. 

Why is this so important? The answer lies in the very definition of PUE, which is the ratio for how much power entering a data center is actually used by IT equipment. While an extremely useful tracking metric for data center managers, business stakeholders may tend to view PUE as a sort of letter grade. If not ideal, then it means that the facility is inefficient. But in reality, facility optimization is a little more complex. The goal isn't simply to cut back on power consumption without fully understanding the effect it would have on facility health. If you use rack PDUs as described above, however, it's much easier to summarize performance, efficiency and reliability in ways that are useful for data center management, and meaningful for business decision-makers.

Accurate data servers as a compass for facility managers and business decision-makers alike.Accurate data servers as a compass for facility managers and business decision-makers alike.

Better samples mean better insights

Data center power infrastructure has come an exceptionally long way within the past decade. Today, operators have the technology to know exactly how much energy is passing through a PDU and which outlets are consuming the bulk of the power. They can be alerted of anomalous voltage spikes or electrical shorts within seconds of their occurrence. An uninterruptible power supply can automatically kick into action in under 25 milliseconds.

But most importantly, facility managers now have the ability to generate actionable reports from available data that look beyond mere thresholds (real-time alerts have more or less become expected in the data center). It's possible to generate predictive models and include these in reports based on the information collected at the rack PDU level. In addition to being of great use to facility managers, this information can guide the hand of business decision-makers by helping them understand the data center environment more completely.

Knowledge is power, but only when the knowledge is also truth – and in the data center, accurate, precise reporting starts at the PDU.