HP offers datacentre monitoring service to improve server running costs

HP has introduced Thermal Zone Mapping, a new feature of its HP Services business that calculates how to improve server cooling while keeping electric bills down.

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HP has introduced Thermal Zone Mapping, a new feature of its HP Services business that calculates how to improve server cooling while keeping electric bills down.

HP Services already analyses datacentres by physically inspecting them and producing two-dimensional thermal photographs that show hot spots in red and cool spots in blue. It also creates three-dimensional photos that highlight airflow patterns from air conditioning vents and around server racks.

Thermal Zone Mapping goes beyond that with computer modelling, allowing datacentre managers to run scenarios, testing the effect on cooling demand of moving server racks or air conditioning vents to different locations. The mapping identifies "zones of influence" where the air is coldest, for example, said Brian Brouillette, vice president, of HP mission critical, network and education services within HP Services.

The mapping may show that one area is cooler than the rest of the room because it gets air from three air conditioning vents. "Maybe that's where I should be putting my most mission-critical servers. ... because it's got three times redundancy," Brouillette said. "[Planning] is no longer random."

The mapping tool announcement follows another HP service unveiled in November 2006, Dynamic Smart Cooling (DSC). With DSC, small temperature monitors attached to each server rack detect if the temperature is rising because the server is doing more computations and increases the air conditioning aimed at that rack. When the server workload goes down, the air conditioning is dialed back.

HP's offering come against the backdrop of IT professionals becoming increasingly concerned about datacentre running costs.

A 2006 survey of IT professionals by IDC showed that about one fifth of them cited power and cooling as the number one issue they face in their datacentres – a greater proportion than cited disaster recovery, security, staffing or any other issue.

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