Technical

Spook smart sensors

By using Spook smart sensors users are able to reveal a higher level of intelligent monitoring; breathing new and perceptive life into legacy monitoring hardware.

Introduction to Spook smart sensors

Spook have developed smart sensors to build upon traditional sensor readings and present data in a more comprehensive and informative way. Smart sensors can be used to perform complex calculations or create a pseudo sensor to add additional metrics not present or available with traditional monitoring solutions.

With the use of smart sensors within OmniWatch; users are able to combine, compare and monitor devices in a more meaningful way. Hardware and sensors are no longer treated as isolated pieces of equipment but as a part of a cohesive monitoring solution.

Group device monitoring

Confirm equipment activity within complex and nontraditional configurations

There are often times where multiple pieces of equipment perform the same job but don't need to be active at the same time. An example would be air conditioning (AC) units that are on duty rotation and only one or two are active at any time in order to maximise the lifetime of each system while also increasing their efficiency.

Ensure at least one AC unit is operational at all times and receive an alert when all units are offline.

With conventional monitoring, incorrect alerts would be generated whenever a unit switches from active to inactive, as each unit is treated separately with no knowledge of the others. By creating smart sensors within OmniWatch users area able to track the planned rotation cycles and be alerted to any unplanned activity which, if left unnoticed could cause unplanned service disruption.

Duty cycle types

  1. Load shedding - equipment is shut down for certain periods of time on a scheduled basis when it is considered non-essential. A variation of this uses demand readings from utility meters to shut down equipment when instantaneous demand reaches certain levels.
  2. Time based duty cycling - equipment is shut down periodically for fixed or variable intervals of time during its operating cycle. In a simple time-based control an example would be when the unit is not allowed to operate for a fixed interval out of a given period of time, for example 60 minutes off out of every 120 minutes on.
  3. Temperature based duty cycling - when the controller overrides the thermostat for heating or cooling, so for extended periods the unit is cycled according to these preset on/off settings. Alternatively the equipment uses thermostats to implement the off-periods, for example, the off-period is invoked if the thermostat is satisfied during a cycle and vice versa.
  4. Price based load control - direct load is controlled where thermostat control set-points are offset based on pricing signals sent by the utility. Using this method the user can decide how much energy cost is expired at any particular time.
  5. Optimal start/stop - delays the equipment startup or equipment shutdown to take advantage of thermal lags in building structures.

Combination sensor monitoring

Generate an aggregate sensor from multiple devices

Within a monitoring installation not all sensors are critical, some are purely informational and although these typically do not have an alert associated with them, the data they present can be used meaningfully.

An example of this is power consumption of PDUs which can be used to keep an eye on demand and costs. Smart sensors can be used to track overall power consumption or into user defined areas such as buildings, rooms, racks or departments.

By combining multiple readings into a singular total OmniWatch gives its users the ability to group, compare and monitor any number of singular devices into something more meaningful while still preserving the underlying metrics if required.

Combining multiple sensor readings gives a quick reference for overall usage in the case of PDU kW values.
Taking an average temperature reading from a collection of sensors gives a more accurate room reading.

Average sensor

Average a collection of sensor readings into a singular metric

When monitoring a number of similar sensors, knowing the average can be helpful. Smart sensors within OmniWatch can easily perform this task with any common sensors from any number of devices.

For example, when monitoring the temperature within a room sensors could be located in naturally hot or cold locations. Although this may be useful when monitoring localised environmental conditions it doesn't give an overview of the health of the room as whole.

By combining and averaging sensors and creating a smart sensor this will give an actionable metric that can be monitored to prevent issues that have the potential for larger impact across a user's installation.

Delta temperature monitoring

Keep an eye on temperature differences within racks and monitor thermal efficiency

Many organisations will use temperature probes to monitor the temperatures of individual racks. There are several different methodologies to consider for rack based thermal management:

  • ASHRAE recommend at least 6 temperature probes placed at the top, middle and bottom of a rack both at the front and rear.
  • Gartner suggest at least 3 temperature probes. One placed at the base of the rack at the front to capture air intake, top of the front of the rack to ensure intake air reaches the equipment correctly and at the top of the rear of the rack to measure the hottest point.
  • Minimum requirements to monitor a rack effectively is one temperature probe at the bottom front of the rack and one at the top rear of the rack to capture the outtake temperature.

When a heat issue occurs it is often hidden at first by AC units compensating by extra cooling and is often only spotted when they are no longer able to keep up or fail.

Creating a smart sensor to calculate the delta temperature (Δt) within a rack can give an early warning to air cooling issues sooner than conventional monitoring. This is done by comparing the rack level air intake temperature to the outtake air temperature and configuring extra alerts to be placed when the Δt strays outside its accepted limits, for example: ±20°C.

Monitoring the Δt within a rack allows for increased insight into what is happening when servers are at full load or capture inefficiencies with a cooling solution.

Additional sensor creation

Use existing monitored sensor readings to create new smart sensors

When monitoring a device it is sometimes beneficial to monitor conditions that aren't readily available or provided by the equipment. Creating a smart sensor to log data for a value that doesn't exist can boost insight into what is happening within a monitored installation. Smart sensors can be generated through combining or performing a calculation on existing sensor readings either from an individual piece of equipment or from multiple devices.

Intelligent PDUs often give you the basic 3 metrics of amps, volts and kWhs but to fully understand usage and plan new equipment deployment it is advisable to monitor stranded power.

Stranded power is the amount of power a PDU is capable of delivering but is not; the higher the amount of stranded power the less a PDU is being utilised.

When positioning new equipment it's best to use the least utilised PDU to supply power and this information is available instantly through OmniWatch. The impact of the additional devices can also be monitored in real-time to ensure that no demand spikes or irregular power consumption threaten operational uptime.

Calculating stranded power on an individual PDU - the same process can also be used on multiple PDUs to see utilisation across racks or buildings.
Monitoring the power into a building and the energy consumption of IT equipment it's possible to calculate the PUE of that site.

Complex calculations

Spook's smart sensors can do complex calculations using multiple devices in many locations

When a large number of sensors and devices are monitored the collected data can often be used to increase the level of insight by performing extra calculations to compliment the raw sensor readings.

A good example is when a large installation, such as a data center, monitors a variety of energy related products such as the power feed to the building, UPSs, generators, PDUs, etc. Each of these equipment types together with their own power metrics are typically monitored individually.

Power efficiency

However, with the same metrics it is possible to perform a calculation for the power usage effectiveness (PUE) and data center infrastructure efficiency (DCiE) . By tracking the PUE and DCiE of an installation in realtime, users are able to understand their current power related efficiencies. Over time, they are able to check their increased efficiencies and support this with reports illustrating the trend data associated with their efficiency gains.

Billing grade energy usage

By pairing a combined smart sensor with a behind the scenes cost per kWh; users are able to get a cost of power usage within their installation. OmniWatch can also take peak and off-peak hourly charges into consideration when generating the billing cost.

Get in touch with Spook

Please contact us if you wish for further information on how Spook can help with your environmental and power monitoring needs.

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