Eaton 5PX UPS Offering Makes Going Green Easier

 
 
By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2011-12-28
 
 
 

How green is your IT? That's a question asked by many business managers and IT staffers alike. The problem with developing a green strategy for your business is trying to measure your success when it comes to saving power, especially at the device level.

Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) manufacturer Eaton has taken a hard look at the greening of IT. The company has come to the conclusion that one of the best ways to measure greenness is by monitoring the power consumed at the outlet segment level-and there is no better place to do that than on the UPS that powers IT equipment. After all, the UPS feeds power into the servers, switches, SANs and other devices that constitute a data center. The equipment is also responsible for keeping power "clean" and available if there are problems with the grid.

Much like a dam, the UPS is in the path of energy flow and becomes a concentrated point that allows measurements to occur-a logical conclusion that few vendors have leveraged to extoll the virtues of a green environment. Eaton is building that intelligence into their UPS and incorporating software that makes it easy to monitor and report on power usage.

Eaton is also bringing intelligent management to what is a critical component of the typical network operation.

A Closer Look at Eaton's 5PX UPS:

I recently had the opportunity to test and evaluate a 5PX UPS from Eaton. The 5PX units range from 1000 to 3000 VA and are available in rackmount or standalone tower configuration. The 5PX is focused on providing an integrated power management solution that features advanced management capabilities. It is also well suited for servers running virtualized environments. 

Features are pretty much the same across all 5PX models, with primary differences being in wattage available and number of managed outlets on the device. This means there is a 5PX unit that is suitable for a single server to a rack of equipment. It all comes down to sizing the device appropriately.

I installed an Eaton 5PX 1500 UPS in my lab for testing. The unit was installed in a rackmount configuration and was connected to a pair of SuperMicro SMC Xeon servers, a Netgear Gigabit Managed Switch and a Buffalo Technologies 1TB NAS Unit. Although my configuration was really at the top end of the spectrum of what a 1500 VA unit is designed to support, I ran into no problems configuring the unit and powering up my test devices.

First and foremost, the 5PX is an enterprise-quality UPS-in other words, the unit's primary function is to take on the role of a UPS, protecting systems from power-related events, such as brownouts, blackouts and other grid-related failures. To that end, the 5PX 1500 proved to be very capable--able to prevent any operational interruptions when power was cut to the rack.

Configuration and basic installation was quite easy, thanks to an innovative interactive display on the front of the unit.

The display can be configured to display several critical functional elements, including load, battery life and so forth. That allows data center staffers to see how the unit is performing at a quick glance, eliminating the need to access any type of a software management console to get a quick answer on status and load.

The unit featured several standard capabilities that made it a good fit for enterprise UPS usage, ranging from a solid design to a strong chassis to a user replaceable battery. What's more, the 5PX offered excellent battery life, allowing ample time for an automated, orderly shutdown of connected equipment--a capability often overlooked by IT pros who are choosing a UPS for the first time. Even more impressive was the unit's ability to shut down virtual machines running on the attached physical servers and notify users and administrators of those forthcoming shutdown events.

While the core hardware plays a key role in those capabilities, most of those abilities come from Eaton's own Intelligent Power Software Suite (IPSS), which comes bundled with the unit. This software is the real gravy of Eaton's 5PX product line-it is Intelligent Power Manager (IPM) that leverages all hardware features of the 5PX, giving administrators a plethora of management controls, reports, monitoring and policy creation tools.

I found Intelligent Power Manager, the monitoring and management slice of IPSS, to be an ideal tool for dealing with a UPS. The browser-based management console connects to the unit through IP-as long as you have installed Eaton's optional Web/SNMP card-and offers critical statistics about the unit in real time. For example, you can monitor the load on each power outlet, look at the overall load on the unit, check battery status and define alerts, all from the comfort of your browser.

IPM isn't the only piece of the IPSS software bundled with the unit. Users responsible for managing physical and virtual servers will really appreciate Intelligent Power Protector (IPP), which helps avoid data loss by shutting down connected devices during extended power outages. IPP brings features to the table such as the ability to automatically save open files and conduct a graceful shutdown of computers and network devices. IPP can communicate with devices through a serial port connection, USB cable or, better yet, using IP over a network connection, thanks to that optional Web/SNMP card, which turns out to be a must-have to really appreciate the unit's capabilities. IPP integrates with IPM, bringing a single pane of glass view to UPS setup and policy control.

While much of the above has become expected from a top-of-the-line UPS, Eaton still has a few more tricks up its sleeve with the 5PX. For example, IPP is fully virtual-machine-aware, allowing it to integrate with VMware's vCenter, which incorporates power management directly into the vCenter dashboard. This is a capability that proves handy for remote shutdown of servers in clusters, while also enabling key disaster recovery technologies to kick in during a failure, such as vCenter's vMotion and SCVMM's Live Migration applications. This allows the transparent migration of virtual machines from a power-affected server to a non-affected server on the network.

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