Sentilla measures power use at the server level

Sentilla Corp. has released a product that measures the electricity being consumed by individual servers in a data center and makes recommendations based on those usage levels to help cut energy bills, the company announced Tuesday.

Called the Sentilla Energy Manager for Data Centers, the product uses small Java-based devices that plug into the back of each server and measure the actual and "reactive" power flowing to each machine. The devices aggregate the data over a wireless mesh network and send it to a Web-based administrative console to give a granular view of the power being used by each server.

The product can identify servers that are drawing power but not running any load, or be used to compare energy use among servers from different vendors or in different configurations, the company said. It also works with storage gear and can help administrators to figure out the best time to replace their storage arrays, for example, which become gradually less energy efficient over time.

Sentilla claims to have already signed one large customer for the product, a telecommunications carrier that it can't yet name publicly. It is also being endorsed by Sun Microsystems Inc., which uses its product to demonstrate the energy efficiency of its servers, Sentilla said.

Sentilla charges for the product by the number of power measurement devices being used. They start at $250 each but larger volumes cost less, and an order for 1,000 devices would be about $100,000, including the administrative software.

The devices plug into a standard electrical cable between the power source and the piece of equipment, a bit like a mini-version of the power adapter used with a laptop. For server racks, instead of attaching the dongles loose to each machine, Sentilla makes a 1U component that slides into the rack and connects to the other servers.

Sentilla originally developed its technology for use in the manufacturing industry, where it's used to measure the energy consumption of large aluminum smelters. Last year, it adapted the technology for the data center, where reducing energy use has become a top priority for many companies.

Sentilla is one of several start-ups taking a variety of approaches to cutting energy use in data centers. SynapSense Corp. uses wireless sensors around the data center to create heat and humidity maps that can help manage cooling systems. Another, Cassatt Corp., develops software that balances server workloads and turns machines off when they're not in use.

Sentilla plans to work with partners to broaden how its technology can be used. It could work with load balancing or virtualization software, for example, to steer workloads toward the servers that are operating more energy efficiently.

Based in Redwood City, Calif., Sentilla was founded in 2000 and became incorporated in 2003. The company recently closed a second round of funding worth $7.5 million.

This story, "Sentilla measures power use at the server level" was originally published by IDG News Service .

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