ISC   Information Support Concepts, Inc
A Certified Woman Owned Business Enterprise (WBE)

Issue 43

Publisher:  Jack Burlin                                Editor:  Nanci Kindle

January 5, 2009

IN THIS ISSUE
                          Your success story                Monthly featured product Kevinisms Trivia
Articles of Interest:   Changes Coming In Power Arena The Three Letters
Back to ISC Main Page

Your Success Story

Jack,
 
Here is a picture of how we used the rack (see below).  I’ll give you a brief description of it.
 
During the development of a new product, we need a way to simulate talking to 64 Variable Frequency Drives (VFD).  VFDs are used in the industry in everything from conveyor lines, mixers, elevators, everywhere that you have a motor that spins and you want to control the speed of how it spins.  The sheer amount of power that is need to power up 64 VFDs is enormous, hundreds of amps of power would be needed.  Instead, we took the controller cards out of the drives and mounted them on the front of the rack and then mounted 64 Serial-to-Ethernet communications adapters on the back side of the rack. With this setup, the controller can talk to 64 drives and the power requirement was no more then plugging the power strip into the wall socket in our office.
 
Thank You
Joseph Mirolli
 

Monthly Featured Product

                 Alert-A-Rack with split rear doors (front view and rear view)

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Information Support Concepts (ISC) has discontinued the monthly product special. Since we are now running weekly specials with much deeper discounts, it made sense for the monthly special to be replaced.  We will now have a featured product each month, and direct our customers back to the weekly special for discounted items.

You can click on this link to see the current weekly product special! 

ISC now offers two versions of the Alert-A-Rack

All the cabinets now come with split rear doors, providing better space utilization with cold-aisle/hot-aisle configurations.  As before, the doors are perforated.  Also, the side panels are locking.

Clients can still get the full system with sensors, but they can also get the cabinets alone, without the sensors.

As always, ISC personnel are ready to answer your questions, and can confirm what product will work for your specific application. If you have a question, just call us at 800-458-6255.

Changes Coming In
Power Arena

Buying Clean Power Is Not As Easy As It Used To Be

 
by Curt Harler
From , April 20, 2007

Without clean, reliable power, data centers can falter. There are new power standards that soon will be the norm. Every SME should plan for those upgrades.
“If I could give companies just one piece of advice, it would be to get on 208-volt power now,” says Kevin Macomber, vice president for the Americas at Aphel Technologies.

Power plugs (the ones at the end of the cord) are also changing. SMEs need a plug that works with new, next-generation equipment. The plugs on the newest Cisco servers are a good example. “Cisco requires a much different plug than the standard server,” Macomber says.

A midsized company setting up a new system should anticipate the wiring evolving from single-phase to 30-amp three-phase down the road.

Ken Brown, director of engineering for Leviton Power Solutions, agrees with the recommendation to increase voltage to 208V. “The best strategy would be to ensure the facility has implemented good grounding and bonding and to install a coordinated surge protection system,” Brown adds. “Build in a redundant power strategy and install an uninterruptible power supply generator for backup power.”

There are simple ways to ensure your firm gets the best equipment possible, he continues. Review pertinent IEEE guides and recommended practices for power and grounding, Brown advises. Then, ensure that the products are UL (Underwriters Laboratories)-listed for safety.

Alex North, director of business development for BayTech, says the primary challenge for today’s manager is determining the future requirements of power. “The demand has more than doubled in just the past four years. Another huge concern falls into what you do with the heat the power generates,” he says.

North says the best approach is redundancy. “N+1 is no longer a wish; it’s a requirement,” he says. He recommends using a reputable engineering consultant to help design power infrastructure.

The Situation

“Power density is growing almost exponentially,” says Mark Guymon, director of product management for power solutions at Leviton Power Solutions.

With Moore’s Law, processing power doubles roughly every 24 months. “Greater processing power inevitably means more power consumption. Consequently, data center managers are concerned with simply getting enough power to support the wattage requirements of all of the computing, storage, and networking equipment found in the average data center cabinet,” Guymon says. “In the past, the standard rack PDU was a 120-volt, 15- or 20-amp product.” He, too, sees more 208V PDUs and higher amperage units, as well. Users also are looking at three-phase products to support larger kVA loads.

SMEs are meeting this need in a variety of ways. “We see a move towards higher voltage and higher amperage power,” Guymon says. A standard 120-volt, 20-amp circuit can supply 1,920 volt-amps or watts (with rack PDUs volt amps or VA = watts), whereas a 208-volt, 30-amp circuit supplies 4,992VA of power.

“Geist Manufacturing is seeing more and more requests for high-power PDUs in the 10-plus kilowatt range,” says Brad Wilson, Geist’s chief technical director. The company’s ZP line has grown to include 35-, 40-, and 60-amp three-phase PDUs, with even higher units coming out soon.

“This demand is spurred by higher-demand blade servers,” Wilson says. “As the cost per computation comes down, the power and cooling demands go up. Now that most cabinet manufacturers have resolved the high heat problems associated with 12-plus kilowatt loads, higher-power PDUs are in demand,” he says.

North agrees it is futile to talk about power without discussing cooling. But SMEs also must think about power savings. “Implementing software that virtually moves applications to one under-utilized server can allow you to simply power down a server that you just made unused. I see companies that implement this strategy save up to 25% of power and cooling cost,” he says.

Get Power Specs Right

“Without measurement, a data center manager is flying blind,” North says. “Understanding all the way to the rack level what is going on with the power is the first major commitment any design should implement.”

Macomber says that many SMEs do not have an adequate panel board. “A typical SME might need a 30-amp power strip today. At $1,000 per power strip, the boss will not be giving you the budget to replace them in 12 months,” Macomber says. “It’s not just the cost of the PDU but also the cost of installation, downtime, the UPS.”

He continues, “There is simply a lot of wrong information out there. My observation is that, when I review the specs for a 2,000- to 4,000-square-foot facility, 80% of the time they have the power spec wrong.”

Macomber blames a lot of the problems on marketing. “People buy on the basis of marketing sales pitches, not engineering,” he says. His solution is for engineers to take a more consultative approach.

“Many companies look at power second to technology or functionality,” he says. “But it’s all about the power.”

Aphel focuses on high-density installations. Macomber puts the blame for SMEs’ current problems squarely on the server manufacturers. “It’s getting more complex at an increased rate of speed,” he says. He doubts those who designed the blade server gave much thought to powering them.

Where To Start

Start with taking a census of your equipment. “Look at the age of the equipment and the amount of old vs. new equipment,” Macomber says. “Next, look at the size of the equipment. Lastly, see how full the enclosure ishow much equipment is there.”

As equipment gets bigger, so do power and space requirements. The typical SME might have a small, 3 or 4kVA UPS. The power package in an average enclosure is 6,000 to 7,000 watts.

Wilson says he now sees use of automatic transfer switches on blade servers to provide N+1 redundancy to the redundant power supplies on blade servers. “This helps curb overall installation costs while maintaining redundancy required for high-tier data centers,” he says. Geist will introduce the first fully digital transfer switch in mid 2007, delivering switching times between five and 12 milliseconds.

One challenge of estimating equipment load is differentiating between “name plate” power and actual power, Guymon says. “Most equipment will list wattage or amperage on the nameplate, giving the maximum power that it could draw based on the max capability of the internal power supplies. In reality, most equipment will draw around 50% of the nameplate rating,” he says.

“To size the power infrastructure effectively, it is important to have a clear understanding of your actual load rather than the assumed or nameplate power load. If this is not clearly understood, then the result could be an oversizing or undersizing of your power infrastructure,” Guymon says.

“I’ve seen a lot of implementations fail simply because the homework on vendor selection was not done,” North says, adding that SMEs can learn a lot by being part of professional organizations such as 7x24 Exchange International or AFCOM.
 

 

ISC offers 208VAC products from various manufacturers.  Call 800-458-6255 to talk with your account manager.

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Kevinisms

A Kevinism is a funny or intriguing statement or idea from our Vice President of Sales, Kevin Hunt.  Kevin is a big fan of Sandra Bullock, Pizza Inn black olive pizza, The Washington Redskins, and Dr. Pepper (not necessarily in that order).  He is not a big fan of Chinese food, seafood, or other types of "dead" stuff.

Sometimes I wonder if Kevin actually listens to what he says.  Here is a perfect example.

We ate at Nizza Pizza here in Mansfield recently.  Kevin and Robin keep looking for a pizza place to add to our list of recurring lunch stops.  We like to go to Pizza on Monday, Mexican on Wednesday, and then rotate a few other restaurants on the other days of the week.  My personal choice for pizza is Double Dave's, but for some reason Kevin thinks their black olive pizza is below standard.  However, their alfredo pizza is excellent, they have a nice salad bar (where Nizza Pizza does not), and their drinks are much better.  At Nizza Pizza, Kevin and Robin actually had WATER instead of the usual Dr. Pepper.  When I sat down with my glass of Dr. Pepper, I knew why.

Anyway, back to the main point.  While I was getting ready to order, I was looking over the options available by the slice.  They had pepperoni lovers stuffed pizza, meat lovers stuffed pizza, and spinach stuffed pizza.  Knowing Kevin does not like spinach, I decided to pull his chain a little bit and asked him why he did not order that.  His response was, "Spinach pizza is NOTHING LIKE black olive pizza."  I said it was vegetarian, to which he replied, "SO IS black olive pizza."

Now it seems to me that there is some kind of inconsistency going on if in two consecutive sentences you use the terms NOTHING LIKE (to say A is nothing like B), and then say SO IS (as A is like B) to make a direct comparison and statement of equality between the two things you just said are nothing like each other.  How can they be nothing like each other and then yet be similar in a key aspect?

Most people would add some qualifying points to the discussion when this inconsistency is pointed out.  They might say they meant the two don't taste the same, or they like one and not the other.  Not Kevin.  He stands by both statements with no qualifiers whatever.  So the two are nothing like each other, but yet they are the same.

             

                        Isn't Pizza great?

           

                The buffet line at Double Dave's

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This sidebar relates to the main article to the left.


 

Double Your Estimate

Where will power needs end? Many consultants, only half jesting, tell clients looking at power needs to double their estimated power requirements and add 10%, and then they may be set for the future. While Kevin Macomber, vice president for the Americas at Aphel Technologies, might not go that far, he is one who buys that general concept. When working with data center managers, the first thing he does is critique where they are today and then look at where they will be in 12 to 18 months.

Mark Guymon, director of product management for power solutions at Leviton Power Solutions, also agrees that some enterprises would benefit from installing double current requirements to provide for future capability. “But each data center and environment is significantly different,” he notes. “At a minimum, design in the infrastructure elements that are most difficult to add later on, particularly floor space and space under the access floor or overhead space for running cables.”

Today’s organization is under pressure not only to provide the needed IT capabilities but to also do this within a limited budget. Given the often-changing strategic environment within most enterprises, flexibility is critical.

“After considering all of these factors, most organizations will design a certain amount of overhead into their infrastructure, but it would be the exception rather than the rule to design in double the capacity that is currently needed,” Guymon notes.

The Three Letters
 

The CEO of a large production facility was having a tough time making the company profitable.  The owners fired him and brought in a “troubleshooter” to be the interim CEO and hopefully turn the company around.  The outgoing CEO introduced the new guy to the senior staff and to the company employees and before leaving he told the new guy “There are three letters in your desk marked 1, 2, and 3.  If things get tough and you don’t have any answers, open them in order.

The new guy set the letters aside and dove into the project.  He met with senior staff, he looked at purchasing, the price of raw materials, the cost of energy, the productivity of the work force, and felt he had a good handle on reviving the company.  However, after putting some new procedures in place the ownership complained of no results.  He could not really think of anything else to do, so he remembered the outgoing CEO’s advice.  He opened the first letter.  Inside was a slip of paper that said, “Blame Me.”

So he started a campaign to blame the former CEO for all the problems.  He told people the former CEO had run things so poorly that he was going to need more time to fix it.  This bought him some time, but after another month he still had not made any improvement in the company. 

He went back to his desk and opened the second letter.  Inside was a slip of paper that said, “Reorganize.”

So the CEO called together all the senior staff.  He went over everyone’s strengths and weaknesses.  He looked at their collective experience and then redistributed all the tasks based on who was the best person for the job.  The staff and employees got re-energized, and for a while things picked up.  However, after a brief period the company continued to slump and he was trying to figure out what else he could do.  Finally he remembered the third letter.

He went to his office and got the letter out of the desk.  He tore it open nervously and inside was a slip of paper that read, “Write Three Letters.”

 Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this month's newsletter. 
Please direct your comments to Jack Burlin.

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Trivia Question

Q:  Time Bandits is a 1981 fantasy film produced and directed by Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame.  There were some notable actors in the film including one who had dual "heroic" roles as Agamemnon and a fireman.  Can you name this actor?

All correct answers will be placed into a pool for a random drawing at the end of the month.  The winner will receive a free roll of velcro, plus free ground shipping. Send your answers to: Jack Burlin

See next month's newsletter for the winner and the correct answer.

Answer from December's Newsletter.

Q:  Tuesday Weld was also on "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," which aired from September 1959 to September 1963.    What was the name of her character?

 A:  Thalia Menninger

The winner was Shannon Jehoich. Congratulations!

   

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Information Support Concepts, Inc.

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ISC   Information Support Concepts, Inc