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LoneWolf

The little-discussed subject: Network enabled UPS options

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LoneWolf

So, the more I think about it, the more I realize my APC BackUPS ES 750VA has been doing the job for one server --but not multiple servers.  That includes virtual machines.

 

As we all virtualize more, we begin to have a need for products that can shut virtual machines down during a power loss, not just the physical ones.  Single workstation/enthusiast UPS units generally don't fit this bill.  On the other hand, a lot of companies are using very clunky, antiquated options for network-enabled shutdown.  Network cards from APC cost a small fortune (that includes finding a UPS up the chain that uses them, as those usually start).  Tripp Lite, the most affordable options, is still $150 for a 1500VA UPS with a network slot (reasonable), $100 for the SNMPWEBCARD of the newest generation (on eBay, they're double that retail), and the software is older and based on Java --they're trying, one can see from their website, but the newest Java 8u71 security changes breaks things mightily; Java 8u66 may be the final you can use.  And yet they're the best budget solution I know.  I didn't see any options within that range from APC, CyberPower, Eaton, or others (and in the process, found a lot more cut-rate UPS vendors that I don't trust either).

 

The fact that UPSes even *need* a network management card these days, in an age when slapping a built-in Ethernet port on something has become relatively inexpensive and easy, is a little staggering.  So I wanted to open up a topic:  What is everyone here using to manage power failures over their network devices?  And further, what would we like to be using?  After al, this seems like a very relevant topic for our enthusiast managed-home people, who may have multiple devices they want protected (e.g., automation controllers with boot operating systems, virtual machines, and so on).

 

What are you using?  Why are you using it?  And how did you get it to fit in your budget?

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pcdoc

So, the more I think about it, the more I realize my APC BackUPS ES 750VA has been doing the job for one server --but not multiple servers.  That includes virtual machines.

 

As we all virtualize more, we begin to have a need for products that can shut virtual machines down during a power loss, not just the physical ones.  Single workstation/enthusiast UPS units generally don't fit this bill.  On the other hand, a lot of companies are using very clunky, antiquated options for network-enabled shutdown.  Network cards from APC cost a small fortune (that includes finding a UPS up the chain that uses them, as those usually start).  Tripp Lite, the most affordable options, is still $150 for a 1500VA UPS with a network slot (reasonable), $100 for the SNMPWEBCARD of the newest generation (on eBay, they're double that retail), and the software is older and based on Java --they're trying, one can see from their website, but the newest Java 8u71 security changes breaks things mightily; Java 8u66 may be the final you can use.  And yet they're the best budget solution I know.  I didn't see any options within that range from APC, CyberPower, Eaton, or others (and in the process, found a lot more cut-rate UPS vendors that I don't trust either).

 

The fact that UPSes even *need* a network management card these days, in an age when slapping a built-in Ethernet port on something has become relatively inexpensive and easy, is a little staggering.  So I wanted to open up a topic:  What is everyone here using to manage power failures over their network devices?  And further, what would we like to be using?  After al, this seems like a very relevant topic for our enthusiast managed-home people, who may have multiple devices they want protected (e.g., automation controllers with boot operating systems, virtual machines, and so on).

 

What are you using?  Why are you using it?  And how did you get it to fit in your budget?

 

What a great topic.  The truth is we probably don't.  I have been relying on protecting the server with one UPS dedicated for the server that manages my VM's so if the power goes out, the servers and all VMs will be shut down.  The QNAP is pretty much the same and so is my storage server.  I also have a dedicated UPS of the router and cable modem.  But the truth is that it is crude, very crude and and I could not agree more that for a couple of bucks more, that it should be a standard option with better ways to deploy and integrate power monitoring.  Relying on USB which is typically only supported by an OS is silly.  Having one source where I can monitor everything from anywhere and integrate more into VM's and stand alone devices would be great.  Lets hope that Cyberpower, APC, Triplite and others are reading the HSS forum.

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GotNoTime

I've got a big APC with a USB port and just have a RPi plugged into that which runs apcupsd. Anything I'm concerned about then runs apcupsd again but linked to that RPi.

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LoneWolf

I've got a big APC with a USB port and just have a RPi plugged into that which runs apcupsd. Anything I'm concerned about then runs apcupsd again but linked to that RPi.

 

I'd love to hear you expand more on this; I think others would as well.

 

Any time for a how-to, or do you know of a good one out there?  What model of RPi are you using, what storage, and what OS, etc.?  How is the RPi hooked up to ensure it stays up in the event of power loss?

Edited by LoneWolf

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oj88

I have a 700VA APC SmartUPS with a management card. It powers my WHS2011 server, an ESXi host for pfSense (HP gen7 Microserver), modem, and switch. The WHS2011 has Powerchute Network Shutdown agent installed. I don't have it on the ESXi host, yet. Been putting it off for months. I will have to work on this asap.

 

Thanks for starting this thread.

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LoneWolf

I have a 700VA APC SmartUPS with a management card. It powers my WHS2011 server, an ESXi host for pfSense (HP gen7 Microserver), modem, and switch. The WHS2011 has Powerchute Network Shutdown agent installed. I don't have it on the ESXi host, yet. Been putting it off for months. I will have to work on this asap.

 

Thanks for starting this thread.

 

Which model of UPS?  Knowing that helps us a lot, as not every UPS allows a management card.

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GotNoTime

Any time for a how-to, or do you know of a good one out there?

There really isn't very much to it. I'm using a APC Smart-UPS which has a USB socket on the back. The software is basically the NIS feature in apcupsd setup with the Raspberry Pi as the server and everything else has apcupsd installed as a NIS client. There are Linux, Mac and Windows versions of the apcupsd server + client. If people do want a guide then I should be able to get something sorted out.

 

The Raspberry Pi hosts various low resource requirement network services on my network such as secondary DNS server and the slave DHCP server. The primary DNS and DHCP is a VM running under ESXi but the secondary is there so if I'm ever doing maintenance or there is a fault with the ESXi server then my network doesn't completely break. The Raspberry Pi is low power, silent and has no moving parts so it is fine just quietly working away in the background 24x7.

 

What model of RPi are you using

I'm using a Raspberry Pi 2 but there isn't anything special about it. Any of the Raspberry Pi boards can do it from the original to the latest 3 and so can any other board that runs Linux + has Ethernet + has USB ports. e.g. Beaglebone.

 

what storage

The specific storage I'm using is a Samsung Evo 16GB microSD card but again, nothing special about that. Any reasonable brand card will work and 4GB is plenty.

 

what OS

Raspbian Jessie Lite which is the cutdown version of the main Linux distribution for the Raspberry Pi. You can use the full Raspbian edition instead if you prefer but I didn't need any of the extra bits so went with the cutdown Lite version. Less to update if nothing else.

 

 

How is the RPi hooked up to ensure it stays up in the event of power loss?

I've got a mains extension strip with an IEC plug on it that is connected to one of the UPS outputs. I use that to plug in various things which have a transformer like the USB PSU that powers the Raspberry Pi. The VDSL modems, router, network switch and Raspberry Pi are always on as their combined load on the UPS is so small that it'll stay on for well over a day under battery power. The heavy power consumption devices like the ESXi server are set to automatically shutdown after 20 minutes of battery use. Edited by GotNoTime
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ShadowPeo

GotNoTime: Very interesting solution. I will have to look at it for some sites that might get a benefit of it.

 

Personally I utilize Dell/Eaton UPS' that I get when we turf them from the cabinets at the clients every three years for replacement. New set of batteries and we are good to go. I have found that "genuine" NIC's or rather the software on them is a boon as I can utilize software to monitor not only the UPS itself but also report on battery levels and alike as well as run upgrades from a central console.

 

This I have found especially useful at home as we live on several acres and have outbuildings where I keep devices to power the switches (and in turn cameras, wireless etc due to the PoE+ on the switches) and backup devices that I can then monitor without having to look at each device individually.

 

After having network enabled UPS' I doubt anyone will go "backwards" it is one of those things that allows so much more to happen than you first realise.

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oj88

Which model of UPS?  Knowing that helps us a lot, as not every UPS allows a management card.

It's an SU700INET (230V). I bought the UPS used and purchased the network management card from eBay.

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cskenney

A couple years ago I started messing around how to do this without having to buy the really expensive UPSes that had network card slots.  One idea I toyed with was using my QNAP NAS to act as the UPS server.  Both QNAP and Synology have this capability to act as UPS "server".  I ran into 2 problems.  The implementation on the QNAP relies on NUT (Network UPS Tools).  NUT seems to not be fully supported on Windows boxes when I tried it but I just looked and there is a recent beta for Windows.  My second problem was I had a hardware failure on that QNAP box and had to return it so I never got back to trying to get this to work.

 

Here is a forum post that talks about configuring the QNAP to work with a pfSense router.  http://www.snbforums.com/threads/using-qnap-ups-server-to-signal-other-devices.17551/

In this case both devices are running Linux and it seems to work.  If you read further in that thread there is a person trying to use NUT on a Win7 machine (and having issues).  I also had issues with a Windows machine trying to shutdown when signaled from the QNAP.  This just provides another option for people to look at if they have a QNAP or Synology box.

 

I really like the idea of the RPi being the server though.  I have a spare RPi laying around so I may give this a try.

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