Power to your cloud

Eaton Power provides guidance on powering the cloud as part ofFOCUS magazine’s special on Cloud Infrastructure

23 April 2012 by Ambrose McNevin – DatacenterDynamics

Power to your cloud


Chris Loeffler, of Eaton Power, told FOCUS that when considering its cloud strategy the first question Eaton asked was: The cloud — is it different?

Once identified as different, came efforts to understand the speed of cloud architecture adoption. This meant a change in the view of IT infrastructure through software development to, for example, manage virtualization, or specifically to allow the management of power within a virtualized system. The company’s product for management of power across multiple devices is, hence, aptly named Foreseer.

“Being in the critical power and electrical infrastructure space we already build robust infrastructure. We really started looking heavily at our software platform and understanding what our customers need from it,” Loeffler says. The key is to make everything more automated – so that the virtual layer can react to what’s going on in the hardware infrastructure.

Eaton Power’s advice on what to consider for powering your cloud
Modular Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems: 
These let you add capacity quickly and incrementally. A modular scalable UPS for a small cloud environment may provide up to 50kW or 60kW of capacity in 12kW building blocks that fit in standard equipment racks. IT personnel can simply plug in another 12kW unit, growing capacity (in this example) from as little as 12kW up to 60kW N+1.

Deploy a passive cooling system: Passive cooling systems employ enclosures equipped with a sealed rear door and a chimney, which captures hot exhaust air from servers and vents it directly back into the return air ducts on CRAC units. The CRAC units then chill the exhaust air and re-circulate it.

Passive systems typically require a strong air flow “seal” from the front of the cabinet to the rear. By segregating hot air from cool air more thoroughly than ordinary hot aisle-cold aisle techniques, a properly-designed passive cooling system can cost-effectively keep even a blazingly hot 30kW server rack running at safe temperatures.

Solution: Construct Multiple Facility Rooms: Large data centers like those that supply public cloud services often house UPS equipment in a dedicated facility room adjacent to the server floor. Setting up two facility rooms, one for UPS and power system electrical components and the other for UPS batteries, can be an even more efficient arrangement.

While UPS electronics can typically operate safely at 35°C/95F, UPS batteries must usually be kept at 25°C/77F.

Conduct a power chain audit: Organizations planning to add a cloud infrastructure to an existing data center should include a thorough power chain audit in their pre-deployment planning. A power chain audit can help you evaluate your power systems and determine which, if any, should be upgraded, augmented or modernized.

Add redundancy to your power architecture: N+1: An N+1 architecture includes one more UPS, generator or other power component than the minimum required to keep server equipment up and running. An N+1 architecture is often sufficient for the needs of a small or medium cloud environment.

2(N): A good choice for large cloud environments, 2(N) architectures feature two separate but identical power paths, each of which is capable of supporting an entire infrastructure on its own. Under normal conditions, both paths operate at 50% of capacity. Should one path experience planned or unplanned downtime, the other can compensate by temporarily running at 100% of capacity.

Deploy replication software: Use software-based redundancy techniques such as replication. Replication solutions continuously capture changes as they occur on protected servers and then replicate them in near real time to backup servers.

Utilize live migration software: Capitalizing on the live migration functionality built into many server virtualization solutions is another effective software-based reliability strategy. Live migration systems like VMware’s vMotion solution enable administrators to move virtual servers almost instantaneously from one physical host to another in response to technical issues or maintenance requirements.

Integrated management software: Many cloud operators use separate management tools to monitor their server and power environments but integrated solutions are now available that allow administrators to manage physical servers, virtual servers, UPSs, PDUs and more all through a single console.

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