Collaboration with FNT Software – monitoring and alarm capabilities, planning efficiency
The increased operational visibility they got with the ABB solution, which is integrated with FNT Command from FNT Software, has also enabled Lakeland’s data center operations to more efficiently add servers and take advantage of emerging hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) technologies. While converged hardware typically is smaller in physical size and take up less space, it runs considerably hotter than traditional hardware, with power supplies often rated well above 1,000 W. (For example, a full rack of 2U-high HCI boxes could be 25-30 kW, while typical 1U servers are about 350-500 W each.) The school’s old data center didn’t have enough space to support the additional air conditioning that hyper-converged infrastructure required.
Moving into the new facility with ABB Ability™ Data Center Automation provided operations insights that enabled them to more efficiently arrange the data center layout, as well as plan cooling configurations to better control energy usage – all without compromising service uptime. With it, the college was positioned to take advantage of emerging data center trends and technologies over the past decade. This included shifting many of its servers to the cloud, significantly reducing the number of physical servers the center needed to cool, ultimately lowering energy cost.
David Levine, Associate Director of Administrative Technologies for Lakeland, said that from an operations and maintenance point-of-view, ABB Ability™ Data Center Automation coupled with FNT Software, an ABB partner, has been a game changer for its monitoring and alarm capabilities and the way it improves planning efficiencies.
“Our air conditioner works off the water temperature and if the water temperature gets too high, it alerts us. I have temperatures of everything, including how many KW every row and every rack uses,” Levine said. “Plus, the DCIM has a water sensor around the racks so if there’s any liquid that gets on the floor there, it will alert us. It also is checking the UPS’s and monitoring the power that’s coming in.”
“The best thing is that our server uptimes are almost 100%,” Penny added. “Things happen in the data center just because there are physical components. But now, we get alarm notifications and can resolve issues before these things can become a disaster.”
Plus, using the system, Levine said his operators can more efficiently track inventory of all the data center racks and easily know what the impact’s going to be to the system before adding something new.
“Before we had to go through spreadsheets,” said Levine. “Now, when you know what the model number is, you can pop it in there and can virtually see how much power it’s going to use and how much more air conditioning will be needed.”
What’s next for the Lakeland Community College data center? in the next 18 to 24 months, Penny and Levine plan to capitalize on the efficiencies they are getting from the ABB Ability™ Data Center Automation system and hyper-converged infrastructure to reduce the data center footprint by 50- to 66-percent of its current size.
“We are looking forward to finding more energy savings,” Penny said. “Even though we are containing it better with the cold aisles now, the data center itself is still a fairly large space. So, if I can take half to two-thirds of that space away, that’s less space that we have to cool.”