Power Monitoring Equipment Review - Smart-Watt and a visit to Microsoft

I've had a chance to play with the Smart-Watt device that I mentioned last month. I am still experimenting with the device, and waiting for my new office/lab space to do more thorough testing. My first impressions are I like Smart-Watt for the following reasons:

  1. It's easy to use as an inline device.  More devices are being developed for 3-phase power and power strip monitoring.
  2. Instead of investing in display and UI on the device, the controls are all from the PC and data is written to your data collection PC/Server in a SQL Express database using the .NET framework as the development platform.  You can set up a FTP server to share the data as well.
  3. A separate network, Smart-Net, using RJ-11 connectors makes daisy chaining devices easy, and does not need the approval of the network administrators to install.
  4. Temperature and Humidity can be collected as well, and leaves the opportunity for expansion for other devices to put additional sensors on the network.

Today Dan Dieso from Smart-Works and I visited Microsoft to talk to some people who run lab environments. It was good to hear the green/energy efficiency effort is expanding at Microsoft.  We heard stories of recently upgraded facilities due to power issues, and people are interested in setting up labs to support Green Data Center projects. Everyone we met at Microsoft was interested in Smart-Watt. One of the good discussions was with Scott Gaskins. Scott has a unique perspective being a SW development manager for microsoft.com's IT operation tools, and he worked for Pacific Gas & Electric for 13 years. So, he understands electricity and the issues about power conservation in the data center.  As a result microsoft.com is one of the most energy efficient properties in Microsoft's data centers, and is an innovation leader already deploying Windows Server 2008 which has power management turned on as default.

Another great connection was with Grant BlahaErath, a Technical Evangelist in Microsoft's ISV partner labs who has an adaptive cooling system with air side economizers in his server lab.  This could allow us to calculate a PUE, power utilization efficiency, for his lab, and he is interested in turning off devices when they are not needed.

As Dan and I make more progress with Microsoft's use of Smart-watt, we hope they'll give us permission to write about their experience.