Guest Column | January 10, 2013

Avoiding a Data Disaster: Part 3

Jim Tessier

Plug-Into Power Management to Extend Runtime in Virtualized Environments

By Jim Tessier, product manager, Eaton

What if you could provide your customers with the ability to slow down time in order to save the day when disaster strikes?

In today’s virtualized environments you may not be able to slow down time in order to respond to power outages, but you can extend the battery backup time needed to successfully carry out failover processes using modern power management solutions. Although you’re not actually providing a super power, you’ll undoubtedly be held to superhero status when your customer’s data comes out unscathed.

Virtualization provides various benefits including reduced cost and ease of administration, and is mainly used in data centers with distributed backup power architectures which are powered by multiple UPSs. Each UPS provides power to the environment during utility failures using power stored in batteries. But during utility failure, supporting virtual machines (VMs) and server loads can effectively utilize most of the available UPS battery capacity, dramatically reducing the effective runtime of highly critical machines and the time window available for disaster recovery actions.

This can be overcome by load shedding; the process of closing or shutting down less critical workloads so the remaining capacity can be reserved for supporting only the VMs deemed most critical.

The process works by using power management software to first assign VMs with a priority level. Each priority level can then be configured with shutdown type as well as timing for the initiation of shutdown and suspend sequences.

Upon detection of a power disturbance, the power management software can suspend or shutdown VMs as configured in each priority level. The software will then work with the virtualization platform to automatically consolidate the remaining active VMs before idling inactive servers. This process reduces UPS battery drain to extend the available backup time.

To summarize, a load shedding feature provides the following benefits:

  • A simple interface to set virtual machine priority
  • Flexibility for the user to configure the time to shut down and/or suspend the VMs of every priority
  • Automatic virtual machine shutdown per the configurations made by the user
  • A feature that provides safe shutdown of remaining VMs as well as shutting down of hosts when the UPS battery level reaches a critically low level
  • Automatic virtual machine restore once utility power is back online

Today’s businesses rely on the benefits of modern distributed computing strategies and maintaining a constant flow of information, so even a brief period of downtime can have a dramatic effect on bottom-line and reputation. Load shedding is a feature that has evolved to meet the needs of customers who depend on the uptime of their virtual environments, allowing users to systematically consolidate workloads to significantly increase available backup time without the need for additional hardware investments.

To learn more about Eaton’s solutions for virtualized and cloud infrastructures, visit

About the Author
Jim energizes Eaton’s Power Quality software group, where he directs continued integration of the power management software into the virtualization platforms of the modern data center. For more information about Eaton’s power quality products, software and services, visit