Posts Tagged ‘UPS’

Sure, We Have a Mac Client, We Use Java!

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

We all have our favorite epithets to invoke for certain software vendors and the practices they use. Some of our peers go downright apoplectic when speaking about those companies and the lack of advances we perceive in the name of manageable platforms. Not good, life is too short.

I wouldn’t have even imagined APC would be forgiving in this respect, they are quite obviously a hardware company. You may ask yourself, though, ‘is your refrigerator running’ is the software actually listening for a safe shutdown signal from the network card installed in the UPS? Complicating matters is:
- The reason we install this Network Shutdown software from APC on our server is to receive this signal over ethernet, not USB, so it’s not detected by Energy Saver like other, directly cabled models

- The shutdown notifier client doesn’t have a windowed process/menubar icon

- The process itself identifies as “Java” in Activity Monitor (just like… CrashPlan – although we can kindof guess which one is using 400+ MBs of virtual memory idle…)

Which sucks. (Seriously, it installs in /Users/Shared/Applications! And runs at boot with a StartupItem! In 2013! OMGWTFBBQ!)

Calm, calm, not to fear! ps sprinkled with awk to the rescue:

ps avx | awk '/java/&&/Notifier/&&!/awk/{print $17,$18}'

To explain the ps flags, first it allows for all users processes, prints in long format with more criteria, and the x is for even if they have no ‘controlling console.’ Then awk looks for both Java and the ‘Notifier’ jar name, minus our awk itself, and prints the relevant fields, highlighted below(trimmed and rewrapped for readability):

:./comp/pcns.jar:./comp/Notifier.jar: 

com.apcc.m11.arch.application.Application

So at least we can tell that something is running, and appreciate the thoughtful development process APC followed, at least while we aren’t fashioning our own replacement with booster serial cables and middleware. Thanks to the googles and the overflown’ stacks for the proper flags to pass ps.

When to Replace APC Batteries

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

All good networking server setups require a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to keep the equipment going long enough to properly shutdown after a power outage has occurred.

What is sometimes neglected is to regularly check your battery to ensure that it’s holding a charge, should the time come when you have to use it.

This is done by connecting the UPS to the network or a Server, and then running the proper diagnostic testing on the battery. Often times the software or the controller will test the battery on it’s own interval, but without the software you may not notice the gradual changes that occur when the battery slowly is no longer holding as much as a charge, or is able to keep the system up, as long as it used to.

Once this occurs, it is time to replace your battery.

Here’s a scenario, you have recently been assigned a new client, and they already have a power structure in place. A week or two goes by. One of the UPSs lights are all green, but constantly blinking. What does this mean, and what do you do? Here’s a little guide you can follow:

Symptom
Battery light is Red
Explanation
The battery is no long holding a charge

Symptom
The charge light is green, but blinking.
Explanation
The battery is only able to keep the power going less than what it is supposed to. Default is usually 2 minutes.

If you see red on the battery, then it’s a no brainer, time to replace the battery.

Back to the scenario, if you see blinking green, it’s a little tricky. This doesn’t mean that the battery is necessarily dead, it just means that the controller is saying that the battery can’t hold power on it’s own for longer than 2 minutes. Here’s what you do:
1. Login to the APC monitoring software and perform a runtime calibration test
2. If after the calibration test the lights are still blinking – it’s time to get a new battery. Sometimes though, it will return back to normal after the run time calibration test (about 1 hr after). In which case, all it needed was a good kick in the pants.

How to get a new battery:
1. Write down the model number of the unit and also get the serial number (The exact model number is at the rear of the unit, or behind the face plate.)
2. Get the serial number of the unit (by the face plate).
3. Get the serial number of the battery (on the battery towards the face plate).
Note: On some APC UPSs you can remove the battery, while the UPS is still plugged in so as not to have to shutdown servers.
4. Call APC to see if the battery is under warranty. If not, it’s still recommended to buy a battery through APC since they give a warranty on them.

Replacing the battery:
Once you get the new battery, check to see if the battery is hot swappable. If it is, go ahead and replace it with the server still connected. After replacing the battery INITIATE A RUN TIME CALIBRATION TEST FROM THE APC MONITORING SOFTWARE. If you don’t, the time wont be calibrated on the APC and you may get false results, or the battery may run down a lot sooner than it should. If you can’t install the APC monitoring software, then you will need to:
1. Charge the battery until it is full on the front panel
2. Power down all of the servers, plug a CRT or another non critical item into the UPS and unplug the UPS from it’s power source. Allow it to run down, and then charge it again. Doing this will initiate a automatic built in run time calibration.

TIPS:
Once you’ve been at a client long enough you will get a feel for how long a battery lasts in a UPS. It’s recommend that you replace it around the time that you’ve noticed it tends to begin to deteriorate. If they were all installed around the same time, try to replace them all at the same time – because if one fails the others are probably soon to follow (especially if they’re the same model).