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HP server management software tracks power usage

HP has upgraded Insight Control, its server management software, to include a power management tool, and to alert data center managers when hardware warranties are about to expire.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) announced upgraded server management software today that controls how much power a system draws.

HP Insight Control Environment is a software package targeted for the company's ProLiant servers and costs about $550 per server. It was originally introduced alongside HP blade servers back in June when the company announced its BladeSystem c-Class. The software allows users to remotely manage their servers, manage power, monitor and deploy systems, and apply patches.

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Built on Systems Insight Manager 5.1, HP's infrastructure management software, Insight Control Environment includes two new features:

The first feature, Insight Power Manager, allows users to measure and manage the power intake of each server. It costs about $100 more per server. Lee Johns, director of volume software for HP, said that many data centers determine how many servers to put in a rack based on the ratings from the systems' faceplates. Those figures are often higher than average for safety reasons, and data centers may be able to fit more into their racks than they think.

With Insight Power Manager, users can determine how much power their servers are actually drawing and what the inlet air temperatures are, and then throttle CPU usage in the desired servers to save power.

Keeping up with IBM

Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst at Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc., said Power Manager shows that IBM, with its PowerExecutive, is not the only major OEM providing power management software.

But one unavoidable limitation of both these products, he added, is that they're only able to monitor fairly recent server models.

"The problem is instrumentation, and the instrumentation isn't available in the older servers," he said. "The actual electronics that measure the amount of power being consumed, the basic sensors that would allow in any management tool to sense, 'Hey, what's going on?' They simply don't exist in older machines."

Tracking warranties

Insight Control Environment's second new feature is Service Essentials Remote Support Pack, which monitors the warranties and support contracts for each server under management and lets users know when they're about the expire. It can also link to HP so that a service event opens a trouble ticket. For failed parts that are still under warranty, an alert system will send out links to online videos showing how to replace it. This feature comes standard with each license.

Eunice said the hardware warranty monitoring is a "nice tweak" even if it doesn't have the same "sex appeal" that an upgrade like IBM's Virtualization Manager had when it came out in September 2005.

"A lot of the practical day to day of being a system administrator is dealing with details," Eunice said. "It is the most miserable thing to figure out where you are in respect to licensing, in respect to warranties."

He added that the warranty monitoring by HP is nice, but that "the real nut to crack here is software licensing."

HP is also now offering a Linux version of Insight Control Environment for its c-Class blade servers, which costs about $200 per server.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.

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