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Redundancy is a key part of keeping those computing assets humming. For VARs seeking power-related consulting income, step one might be to perform a power audit with an eye toward increasing the amount of redundancy in the server room.
Servers are provided with redundant power supplies not just in case one fails, but also to allow the provision of power from different circuits, separate power distribution units, discrete UPSes or all three. Eaton's Ames says availability is kept high by eliminating as many single points of failure as possible. "Not having a single point of failure on any critical infrastructure equipment is paramount to the success of those networks and their deployment of data center and distributed networks," he said.
While you're on site performing your data-center power audit, you might also look at the placement of compute resources and the amount of hot- and cold-air separation. Just as you shut the windows when running the car's air conditioner, so too should hot air be kept separate from the cold air coming in from the ventilation system or chiller units. Where possible, suggest the addition of containment curtains or partitions, and be sure all empty rack space is closed off with blanking plates or foam. Even cardboard sheets or boxes placed between ceilings and rack tops can help improve separation.
The next -- and most lucrative - -part of your power audit is to measure the data center's power usage efficiency, or PUE. This number is derived by dividing the total energy used by all aspects of the data center by the power used by computing resources alone. Among the equipment included in the total energy calculation should be that of the physical infrastructure such as cooling units, UPSes, lighting, fire protection, physical security devices and the like, plus of course, the IT load. This includes mainly networking, servers and storage. Do not include energy used by data center staff computing resources, lighting or environment.
To calculate PUE, simply divide the IT load power usage into and total power usage of the physical data center infrastructure and compare it to national averages. These can be found at the Uptime Institute. Lower numbers are better. A PUE of 2.0 or 2.5 is considered good or average for a medium-sized large data center. The most efficient data centers in the world are run by Google, with a PUE around 1.2. You too can learn and employ Google's power savings methodology yourself and for your customers.
The Power Of Power
The virtualization craze has sparked new growth in the data center for servers, storage and the power and cooling systems to operate them. "Customers are facing problems they never had before," said Philip Fischer, data center business development manager for North America, at APC by Schneider Electric. "They're not experts; they're looking for partners."
Data center growth is not limited to large companies. "A common misnomer about data centers is that they're always large," he said.
In reality, about 80 percent of data center growth takes place within small and medium-sized businesses. "This represents a huge opportunity for helping with changes, adding capacity and segmenting the data center," Fischer said.
As data centers continue to consolidate, the need for increased power and cooling will become apparent, either by accident or by design. With just a small amount of specialized knowledge, resellers can benefit either way.
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