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OPC Empowers Green IT Decision Making

Software Toolbox worked with Hitachi Consulting, a partner with Microsoft in its Green IT initiative, to connect OPC data sources to Visio 2007 drawings for improved energy efficiencies.

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Data centers accounted for 1.2 percent of energy usage in the United States in 2005 and are expected to grow to 2.5 percent by 2011. Worldwide, data centers consume 0.5 percent of the world’s energy. A Forbes study of 36 data centers showed efficiency upgrades in data centers generated ROIs of 400 percent in the first year.

There are many simple ways that Information Technology professionals can improve data center efficiency, including raising overall temperatures, using outside air for cooling, adjusting inter-rack airflow, and more. However, to make informed decisions about changes to the facilities systems that make improvements without negatively impacting system reliability and uptime, the IT staff needs real-time operating data.  Microsoft has launched an initiative for Green IT using Visio 2007 that allows Data Center managers to build system diagrams and tie them to process data. 

Hitachi Consulting, partnering with Microsoft, provides Business Intelligence (BI) systems that help Data Center managers to improve efficiency and lower operating costs. In a recent project, they needed to capture data from OPC data sources and link it to Visio drawings. They accomplished this by working with Software Toolbox and using the OPC DataHub from Cogent Real-Time Systems to make the connections to facilities systems. Since many facilities systems and backup power generation systems use the same types of industrial controls used in manufacturing, OPC interfaces for the controls are a natural. The missing link for Hitachi was connecting the OPC data sources to Visio 2007. Visio 2007 enables users to link drawings to SQL Server data sources for live updates as data changes. OPC DataHub’s ability to log OPC data to any ODBC data store empowered Hitachi to quickly and easily link their OPC Data Sources to their Visio drawings. 

Besides its ability to read data from any OPC DA server and log it to any ODBC data store (SQL, Oracle, MySQL, etc), Software Toolbox can integrate other OPC DataHub functionality to improve operating efficiency and reliability in data centers.  Included in every OPC DataHub license is the ability to monitor any Windows performance counter value and to send Email/SMS notifications based on user specified conditions. For example, OPC DataHub can monitor any windows process and if the process crashes, send an email or SMS/notification to the appropriate IT staff.

Other items that can be monitored include SQL server health, disk space, CPU usage, and network utilization. Email/SMS messages can be configured to be sent and include process data captured via OPC along with Windows performance counter values in the same email report. Conditions can be setup so that notifications are only sent when abnormal conditions exist. Using OPC DataHub’s built-in data and OPC secure tunneling, multiple systems can be monitored remotely with data aggregated and presented in a single interface. OPC DataHub’s web server enables developers to build their own user interfaces to present operating data.
To learn more about OPC DataHub through free online training and download a trial version of OPC DataHub, visit

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