The human brain is good at detecting differences in things to better understand them. If you show someone a pattern taken from a data set over a period of time, they will be able to determine where the pattern is headed, or where it breaks. In other words, you can detect the usual from the unusual.
The key to doing so lies in two things: collecting the data over a meaningful period of time and presenting it in an effective way.
Consider the case of data center energy efficiency. Pretty much everyone wants their data center to be as efficient as possible, but how do you determine how best to do that – and get the appropriate people to agree on the best course?
The answer lies at least in part with the ability to produce good reports that demonstrate in clear, graphical terms how energy efficient the data center is – or isn’t, as the case may be. With a good series of reports, managed effectively over time, you can determine what’s normal and what isn’t, enabling you to hone in on the areas that are likely costing you in terms of energy efficiency.
With respect to data centers, generally you have two types of reports: compliance and performance. Compliance reports are the ones you have to have, for billing purposes, to meet regulatory demands and the like. Performance reports, on the other hand, are those that are just good to have. You don’t necessarily have to produce them to stay in business, but they can help you do business more effectively if they succeed in getting people to change their behavior or take appropriate steps.
A data center report that clearly demonstrates you’ve got CRAC systems fighting with humidifiers at certain times of the year, for example, would be extremely valuable in helping you tune those systems.
Certainly there are systems widely used today that can produce such reports. But for the most part, they require a great deal of integration in order to deliver a complete solution of data access, statistics and formatting and delivery. Often, they produce dashboards that someone has to proactively look at – and then choose to react, or not. If instead you could produce a nicely formatted PDF document that shows the same information, and deliver it to those who have a vested interest in seeing it, then you are more likely to get results in terms of remedying problems. A modern reporting solution will deliver it all in one already integrated solution.
Data centers are chock full of systems that could benefit from such reporting. Aside from heating and cooling, you’ve got generators that sit idle most of the time. When was the last time you saw a report documenting when those generators were tested and how the test fared? Ditto for UPSs. If you have reports detailing their status in terms of battery charge, the last time they kicked in, test cycles run and such, you could have more confidence the systems would work when you need them.
Such reporting is what my company, Ocean Data Systems Ltd., is all about. We make Dream Report, an automated report generation and performance dashboard tool that can pull data from just about any sort of system or device thanks to its support for industry protocols and some 70 built-in drivers. It’s no secret that Dream Report is the reporting engine behind the Wonderware System Platform tool offered by Invensys, which was recently acquired by Schneider Electric. That effectively makes Dream Report part of the overall Schneider Electric portfolio, and ready to help you run a more effective data center.
To learn more about Dream Report, visit our web site: www.dreamreport.net. And thanks to the folks at Schneider Electric for allowing me to pen this guest post. I look forward to a fruitful partnership.