Could you be managing your data center energy usage more effectively? IBM Active Energy Manager can help you find out and then do something about it.
IBM Active Energy Manager (AEM) is an integrated component of IBM Systems Director, the systems management backbone of IBM System x, System z, Power Systems, and BladeCenter servers. Originally a plug-in component, AEM has been packaged and installed along with IBM Systems Director server since version 6.3.
Simply put, AEM helps companies measure, monitor, and manage power usage of their IT infrastructure and enables organizations to better understand their energy consumption in their environment. It provides a single view of actual, not estimated, energy usage in the data center. Companies can use AEM's data to improve how they utilize resources and reduce energy consumption and costs.
How much does it cost to run your server room? Have you ever been asked? Your company may have special plans in place with your power company, but have you ever done the math of how much it actually costs per hour to run a fleet of x86-64 servers? Or Power Systems servers? Or System z? What if you could reduce your energy consumption by 10 percent? Or 20 percent? What if that reduction could add 10 percent or 20 percent or even 50 percent to your IT budget based on straight energy cost-savings? You can use the IBM Systems Energy Estimator to give you a better idea of what it costs to actually run the hardware once you've paid for it. Once you have that number, then you can plan to do something about it.
Recently, the news has published a number of articles about energy consumption of data centers, specifically cloud-based data centers. Here's a great one from the NY Times and a solid counterpoint from Forbes. What I like about the Forbes article is the spotlight on the fact that there is no defined percentage of the proper utilization of a server room. On a Power Systems server running IBM i, I'd be quite satisfied if my server were running at 45 percent CPU utilization all day long with no performance issues. If that's the case, I'm probably getting good bang for my buck. Who'd want to be running at 5 percent all day long? That's an underutilized system and could probably be deemed a waster of energy.
Companies are looking to have a smaller carbon footprint and to "go green." Ideally, you want to spend as little energy as possible to run your business, and no matter who's right in the argument about how efficient data centers are, we can all agree that we can do better in terms of managing energy consumption. AEM helps us do that.
What if you're using your energy inefficiently? Let's say you're updating a number of servers on one particular evening every month. Your servers are requiring more resources to do their job, which causes spin-off events such as your air conditioning units requiring more energy to keep the server room at a reasonable temperature. This may cause an unwanted spike in energy consumption. If you knew about events such as this, you could stagger your updates to ensure a more even, distributed, and cost-effective consumption of energy. Hey, those spikes may incur additional costs from the power company.
Or what if you're supplying full power to a rack that's operating at only 5 percent processing power for 16 hours of the day? That's a lot of wasted energy. It's like having your car idling in the winter with the air conditioning turned on. Without monitoring and managing our systems, this could be how we're running our data centers. You just don't know unless you check.
According to the product page, IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager increases energy efficiency and reduces costs in these ways:
- It provides a single, cross-platform view of energy consumption across multiple platforms, including IBM servers and storage, non-IBM systems, facility providers, facility management applications, PDUs, and equipment supporting the IPv6 protocol. This view allows you to reduce energy management tools and complexity.
- It simplifies energy management for IBM servers and storage to aid power consumption understanding, decision-making, and actions.
- It controls power, and limits power consumption, by using tools that provide power capping, power savings, power and thermal trending, and group capping.
- It provides real-time information on energy usage, giving administrators the insight needed to reduce power consumption.
- It integrates with a wide range of facility provider platforms for monitoring power and cooling infrastructure, enabling administrators to understand the impact on servers, storage, and network equipment.
- It integrates seamlessly with the IBM Systems Director management platform, and with higher-level management platforms as Tivoli, to provide centralized, unified management capabilities.
Great Stuff! How Do I Get Started?
Currently, IBM Systems Director server is supported on two Power Systems operating systems: Power Linux and AIX. IBM Systems Director server version 5.20, which was withdrawn from support in 2011, was supported on IBM i but not in this release. No word from IBM on when or if this support will be reinstated. Also, it's supported on x86-64 Linux and Windows or Linux on System z.
If you're primarily an IBM i customer and you want to monitor the energy and more of your Power Systems server, you'd have to install the Systems Director server on a supported operating system and then install the Common Agent for IBM i. This pairing allows you to take advantage of the following features:
- Discover systems
- Collect comprehensive platform and operating system inventory data
- Monitor health and status
- Manage alerts
- Remotely deploy and install Common Agent
- Perform remote access, including transferring files
- Perform power management function
- Take advantage of additional event support
- Monitor processes and resources, and set critical-thresholds send notifications when triggered
- Manage operating system resources and processes
- Manage updates
Before you install the Common Agent on IBM i, you need to ensure you have the latest Group PTF for IBM HTTP Server installed (SF99368 for IBM i 7.1 or SF99115 for IBM i 6.1). Also, it's recommended you have the most recent Cumulative PTF package installed on your system.
If you have IBM Systems Director server 5.20 installed on your IBM i, you will need to delete it before installing Common Agent for the latest version of Systems Director, which is 6.3.1.
Also, Common Agent will use ports 29510 and 29511 to communicate with the Systems Director server. If those ports are in use by any other applications on your primary IP address, you should ensure the Common Agent HTTP instance is bound to another IP interface instead. The HTTP instance name by default is called "CAS," so you can bind that HTTP server to an IP address using the HTTP Adminstration interface on your IBM i.
To install the Common Agent, you'll have to extract the SysDir6_3_0_Common_Agent_IBM_i.zip file, which is located in the SysDir6_3_Common_Agent_IBM_i.jar download within the repository directory. I use WinRAR to handle and extract any .jar bundles.
Place the extracted files in an IFS directory—for example "/CAS" —and then change your working directory and run the installagent.sh script via Qshell.
Once the installer has finished running, restart the Common Agent HTTP instance by executing the following commands:
ENDTCPSVR SERVER(*HTTP) HTTPSVR(CAS)
(While the instance is down, it's a good time to bind it to a dedicated IP if necessary).
STRTCPSVR SERVER(*HTTP) HTTPSVR(CAS)
I could give you the wizard instructions for installing the Common Agent via Systems Director, but it's quite long and I prefer quick and dirty installations through Qshell any day. If you're not comfortable in Qshell, the installation instructions are located here.
I hope I've given you enough information to pique your interest in finding out more about your energy usage in order to manage it more effectively.