EatonEaton Intelligent Power Manager plug-in for Citrix’ XenCenter Server integrates virtualization and power management

Server virtualization enables companies to increase efficiency and uptime while lowering hardware capital expenses and operations spending. It also poses a number of significant power management opportunities.

Eaton’s Intelligent Power Manager (IPM) can help IT managers reap the benefits of virtualization. In particular, it comes with a plug-in for Citrix’ XenCenter Server, currently a well-positioned virtualization management solution in the market. It enables IT managers to administer their backup power and power distribution assets in sophisticated ways via the same console they use to manage their physical and virtual servers.

This technology brief discusses the factors behind virtualization’s skyrocketing popularity, as well as the power management difficulties that virtualized data centers often encounter. It then provides an overview of how IPM helps mitigate those complexities, along with detailed step-by-step instructions for installing and using the IPM plug-in for XenCenter.

Virtualization and power management

Eager to save money and time while maintaining continual uptime, businesses are rapidly implementing server virtualization. In fact, nearly 80 percent of server workloads supported by x86 hardware will be running on virtual machines (VMs) by 2016, according to analyst firm Gartner Inc.

Given the many and significant benefits it offers, virtualization’s exploding popularity is easy to understand. Chief among those benefits are these:

  • Lower hardware capital expenses: Conventional data centers typically feature large numbers of lightly utilized servers. Converting those physical machines into virtual ones consolidates the number of power devices being used and significantly lowers server-related hardware spending.
  • Easier hardware administration: Reducing physical servers lessens operational and capital expenses, by decreasing hardware purchase and administration burdens.
  • More efficient use floor space: Consolidating servers through virtualization enables organizations to fit more processing and storage capacity into an existing footprint, delaying the need for costly construction projects.
  • Enhanced availability: Server virtualization solutions equipped with “live migration” capabilities can relocate VMs from one host device to another quickly, enabling companies to keep critical applications up and running during power outages, hardware failures and maintenance procedures.

Power management challenges created by virtualization

Though it offers many compelling benefits to IT equipment, virtualization does complicate power management in a number of ways.

For example, many organizations use virtualization management software to administer host servers, VMs and more. At present, though, users of virtualization management suites must usually employ a separate set of management tools to monitor their power infrastructure, decreasing the productivity of their technicians and potentially delaying response times when problems occur.

Additionally, while live migration capabilities can move VMs dynamically from one host server to another under a variety of conditions, few such products offer built-in functionality for migrating virtual workloads automatically during power outages, when the function is most often needed.

Virtualization power management with Eaton Intelligent Power Manager

Intelligent, logical and complete power management solutions such as Eaton IPM make tackling virtualization-related power management challenges significantly easier. By implementing IPM, IT managers can:

  • Automatically assemble a global, consolidated view of their backup power and power distribution infrastructure
  • Monitor and manage power hardware both inside and outside the data center, even on an outlet-by-outlet basis for some devices
  • Shut down affected servers and network devices gracefully and automatically during extended utility failures, protecting unsaved work and preserving data integrity
  • Receive real-time notification of uninterruptible power system (UPS) and power distribution unit (PDU) trouble signs, such as deteriorating performance or an overheating battery
  • Significantly reduce the cost and complexity of rolling out new commands, features and functions by executing mass management card firmware upgrades over the network
  • Measure power consumption to help calculate power usage effectiveness (PUE), a widely-utilized metric for gauging data center power efficiency

Integration with Citrix XenCenter

Among IPM’s most powerful features is its seamless integration with Citrix’ XenCenter virtualization management solution.

At present, analysts seem to embrace Citrix XenCenter/XenServer system as a high growth platform due to its price and technology. Most organizations that use XenServer also use XenCenter to administer their virtual server infrastructure. IPM plugs directly into XenCenter, enabling IT personnel to view, monitor and administer not only physical and virtual servers but UPSs, PDUs and other power devices through a single console.

Conclusion

Virtualization management tools like XenCenter Server (from Citrix, a company with which Eaton has a recently received Citrix Ready approval) usually provide excellent tools for administering VMs and the physical servers that host them. Few if any of them, however, have built-in power management capabilities. IPM’s plug-in for XenCenter helps fill that gap by adding a variety of sophisticated power management features to XenCenter and enabling data center managers to operate those features directly from within the XenCenter dashboard. Drawing on the instructions in this technical brief, organizations with virtualized server infrastructures can significantly reduce their exposure to downtime and data loss due to power outages while still enjoying all of the many benefits server virtualization has to offer.

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Download the Eaton Power Manager Software here.

Download the Eaton Tech Brief and Users Guide here.