Socomec: Energy Monitoring Has Never Mattered More

As we start to grapple with a new normal, where IRL now looks suspiciously like our online life, we are dependent – now more than ever – on the infrastructure and services of which our data centres are the foundation.

Furthermore, with unprecedented volumes of online traffic and world-record beating levels of data throughput, the careful management and mastery of our digital infrastructure can provide organisations with critical visibility and reliability – protecting against the downtime that we simply cannot afford.

Greater Granularity, Increased Functionality, Informed Corrective Actions

The granularity concept as introduced by Chapter 8 of EN 50600-2-2  is one that should be designed-in when implementing power monitoring devices throughout a facility.

Granular power monitoring is a must – as not only does it account for all consumption but it breaks that consumption down according to key criteria – making it easy to uncover, analyse and correct problems early on.

Simply relying on general data is not enough to support informed decision making or activity.  By using devices that can harvest more than just the very basic energy readings, valuable preventive and corrective action can be taken that is rooted in robust information.  For instance, by measuring harmonics and imbalance, weak points can be identified preventing the constant deterioration of equipment and optimising maintenance operations.

Furthermore, the monitoring of each individual protective device (on / off / trip) allows the user to perform a rapid reset in the event of a trip, minimising downtime and the direct and indirect cost associated with any loss of uptime.  Whether associated with productivity losses, revenue losses, longer term customer attrition, system recovery costs or the long term impact of reputational damage, the total cost of downtime can be financially crippling and life limiting – and is simply not an option in the operating context of today’s hard working electrical infrastructures.

Where to Start? Manage the Metrics

To be clear, implementing a power monitoring system within a facility enables every Data Centre Manager to achieve a real grasp on both how much energy is entering via the mains as well as how much energy is being consumed – with that consumption broken down by each piece of equipment.

The wider impact of mastering energy monitoring means that because consumption can be broken down, it’s possible to identify tangible cost saving opportunities that will result in a reduction in monthly utility billing – delivering straight to the bottom line from day one.

What’s the Role of Power Usage Effectiveness?

Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) – the industry-accepted energy efficiency metric as defined by ISO / IEC 30134-2:2016 (standard information technology – data) – enables the energy efficiency of a Data Centre to be tracked and measured.

As a key performance indicator, PUE considers the ratio of the Data Centre’s total power consumption to the power consumption of IT.  The closer to 1 that the PUE is, the more efficient the facility, indicating that most of the power consumed is supporting IT servers.

In the evolution of PUE, it’s important to correlate with power quality and environmental factors; for example, a lower PUE in winter is considered to be normal as a result of the season’s low temperatures.  For the most accurate results, the measurement of PUE by area or application must be conducted as close to the final IT loads as possible in order to help best understand where changes need to be made as well as where to prioritise resource.

Meeting Today’s Data Centre Challenges

Whilst every facility operates within the unique parameters of its own electrical architecture, service continuity is the single most important challenge for all data centres.

The reliability, quality and maintainability of the power supply are key success factors in guaranteeing service.  The incoming supply must be continuously monitored in order to detect deviations or abnormal events and to support well-informed decisions about which corrective action to pursue. A preventative measure when it comes to the premature aging of the electrical installation or equipment, this also optimise costs and avoid data losses.

How Are Power Quality Meters Playing a Vital Role?

Power Quality Meters (PQM) – with the implementation of real time alerts – enable the health of the electrical distribution to be monitored and to detect drifts in measurements, optimising power availability, guaranteeing continuity and protecting critical assets.

In terms of efficiency, by managing IT and cooling equipment more effectively it is possible to reduce energy consumption and adapt the power demand to actual requirements – significantly when it’s considered that cooling can represent up to 40% of the total energy used to operate a data centre.  Furthermore, by installing power monitoring systems across multiple data halls, staff are able to benchmark usage and efficiency to drive improvements.

As the facility expands, the use of permanent power monitoring to collect real time data provides accurate visibility in terms of overall capacity – making it simple to add equipment without changing the power distribution architecture, or upgrading cooling systems, for example.

By measuring more accurately through branch-circuit monitoring and guaranteeing fluctuations at a very low load current – rather than using less reliable standard revenue grade meters – the power usage of individual tenants, for example, can be invoiced fairly and accurately at rack level.