APC teams up with IBM on efficiency

Backup-power product maker APC and building automation vendor TAC will integrate their software management platforms with IBM's Tivoli Monitoring energy management tools.

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Backup-power product maker APC and building automation vendor TAC will integrate their software management platforms with IBM's Tivoli Monitoring energy management tools.

The move will give datacentre managers more visibility into and control over their systems, the company said Friday.

Better management of the datacentre can help solve inefficiency problems exacerbated by worldwide increases in data creation and computing requirements, APC executives said.

The integration joins Tivoli Monitoring with TAC's building management software, which focuses on indoor climate, security and use of energy, and with APC's InfraStruXure Central, an infrastructure management platform that combines power, cooling, management and security tools with server racks.

"By integrating InfraStruXure Central and TAC with IBM Tivoli Monitoring software administrators will be able to view, correlate and profile the dependencies of business process and IT assets to their underlying physical infrastructure," APC states in a press release. "The result will help monitor and manage efforts to reduce risk, raise data center system availability levels and increase energy efficiency."

The integration of the three products is in development and will be available to customers worldwide sometime in 2009, APC says. Pricing for APC InfraStruXure Central, which is already available, starts at around US$10,000. APC and TAC are owned by Schneider Electric.

APC described the integration and its vision for a more efficient and easy-to-manage datacentre on Friday during a media event at its Rhode Island facility. The company also said it is making electrical efficiency data for its enterprise power and cooling products available at its website.

"We really have to iPod-ise the datacentre. It's just getting too complicated to deal with all of it," said Neil Rasmussen, APC's senior vice president for innovation.

Joining with TAC and IBM is part of a holistic approach that APC says is necessary for cutting waste in server and storage rooms. "We will dramatically simplify the way data centers are designed, managed and how they are evolving," APC CEO Laurent Vernerey said.

One component, product or vendor can't provide all the answers to the data center efficiency problem, he said. "We believe only a system approach will allow us to deliver a solution to our customers," Vernerey said. "We do not believe that we alone can bring a solution to all issues."

Aaron Davis, APC chief marketing officer and North American region president, pointed to several trends showing how critical efficient use of data center space has become. Microsoft and Google are building datacentres based on the location of the cheapest electricity, he said. Iceland has become a hot spot for datacentres because of an abundance of geothermal energy. Quoting IBM CEO Sam Palmisano, Davis said "last year human beings produced more transistors than grains of rice."

For the enterprise IT executive, combining APC, TAC and IBM products will allow sharing of key data points such as alarm notifications, historical data and asset tracking. "Once we complete the integration . . . IT administrators will have the ability to make informed decisions about critical business processes, their physical infrastructure and building management systems and how to efficiently deploy their infrastructure," APC Senior Vice President John DiPippo said in a press release.

If a user wants to move business applications to a different row, rack or data center due to a cooling problem, the integrated system will make it easier to determine the ideal location based on historical and real-time data on energy use and availability of power and cooling, APC says.

APC says other benefits of the integration include:

- Real-time analysis of changes in power and cooling and how they affect related IT systems and business applications.

- Prediction of potential downtime due to hardware failures or energy problems.

- Centralisation and integration of data center security tools such as access control, intrusion detection and digital video management.

- Visibility into HVAC systems.

In addition to the IBM integration, APC on Friday announced two new products to improve data center manageability. One is a metered rack Power Distribution Unit (PDU) that minimises cable congestion and provides advanced warning of unplanned power overloads. The other new product is a remote console manager designed to reduce IT support costs by automating tasks like operating system upgrades, password updates and device configuration changes.

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