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Feedback / Enhancement Requests for AP9630 NMC and PCNS

Discussion in UPS Management Devices & PowerChute Software started by Daryl , 4/25/2017 10:29 PM
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Posted in: General

Feedback / Enhancement Requests for AP9630 NMC and PCNS

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  • bimmerdriver

    I have some feedback and enhancement requests the AP9630 NMC and PCNS, based on my unsuccessful effort to configure my equipment (SMT1000 and AP9630) to work the way I would like it to work. My impression is that the AP9630 NMC and PCNS have a huge amount of capability, but at the same time, seem to be very complex while at the same time lacking flexibility in key areas. Considering APC is considered by most to a leader in UPS technology and APC UPS technology is considered high-end WRT price, this is disappointing.

    By far the biggest issue I have is that there are no mechanisms to trigger events based on battery charge. Considering that battery charge is a fundamental variable, not a derived variable like runtime, in my opinion, this is a glaring omission. The two mechanisms available for triggering events (runtime and time) make it very difficult to manage remaining battery charge. I would like to be able to trigger events based on battery charge because with a varying load it's not possible to do it based on runtime. I would like to be able to shut down a computer, an outlet group or the ups based on battery charge. I would also like to be able to turn on outlet groups based on battery charge. APCUPSD supports battery charge. So should the APC9630 NMC and PCNS. In my case, the reason this is such an issue is because immediately when the UPS goes on battery, after computers are shut down to shed load, the runtime goes from ~15 minutes to ~35 minutes. I do not want to delay shutting down the last server until less than 10 minutes of runtime remains. I would rather shut the server down (and power off the UPS) at around 20-25 minutes, which is more runtime than the UPS has when the network is fully operational. The only fix for this is to allow shutdown based on battery charge.

    The next issue is the use of fixed (non-configurable) timers. Examples are the "70 second delay" and the "2 minute delay". There are probably other examples.

    Why are these timers fixed? Why can't they be adjusted? Possibly if there was an explanation what purpose the timers serve it and why they are set to the chosen durations they might make sense, but as it is, they appear to be set to arbitrary durations for no obvious reason.

    One purpose for the 70 second delay might be to allow a user to save open files, but if no user is sitting at the computer, the time is wasted and if the intention was to shed load as soon as possible, the battery is drawn down needlessly during the delay. A second purpose for the delay could be in case the power restored, but currently, even if power is restored before end of the 70 second delay, the computer is still shut down! Are you kidding?!?

    For the 2 minute delay, it's not obvious what it's for considering the reference to low battery duration, which implies the computer should be shut down within the low battery duration, before the 2 minute delay begins. If it is to allow an additional margin of time for computers to shut down upon receiving the shut down command, 2 minutes should be a default that can be over-ridden by the administrator, otherwise it only causes unnecessary battery discharge.

    The next issue is the lack of capability to configure events.

    UPS On Battery: It should be possible to delay this event from being immediately triggered by the NMC to allow for transient power interruptions. This would allow for users in areas where there are frequent short duration power failures to ride through such interruptions.

    Input Power Restored: If PCNS can be configured to trigger a command file upon restoration of power, why can't it be configured to cancel a shutdown triggered by a UPS On Battery Event?

    Battery Discharged: If the NMC can raise this event, why can't it raise an events based on a percentage of discharge?

    Outlet Groups Configuration: If NMC can be configured with Min Return Runtime for outlets, why not battery charge? When the outlet group is turned off, the runtime is infinite. Runtime only makes sense with known loads.

    Why can't the NMC send wake-on-lan events?

    The next issue is the lack of simulation and testing capability. As it is, the only way to test that everything is working is to actually pull the plug from the UPS. It would be useful and preferable if testing could be done by simulating events. For example, the user could trigger events such as UPS On Battery or Battery Discharged events from the NMC user interface to cause the configured actions to occur, without needless wear and tear on the UPS battery. Ideally, a scenario could be tested using a script that would shut down computers and outlet groups as if the UPS was on battery, then turn outlet groups and computers back on as if the UPS input power was restored.

  • wpasquil

    Hi Daryl,

    Sorry you are unhappy with PCNS and the NMC. Your complaints and suggestions have been noted and will be reviewed for future releases of PCNS and the NMC firmware.

    Again, sorry you are unhappy.

  • bimmerdriver
    On 4/26/2017 4:54 AM, Bill said:

    Hi Daryl,

    Sorry you are unhappy with PCNS and the NMC. Your complaints and suggestions have been noted and will be reviewed for future releases of PCNS and the NMC firmware.

    Again, sorry you are unhappy.

    Hi Bill,

    Thank you for your reply and also for being actively involved in this forum. I hope my feedback was received in the manner in which it was attended, which is constructive. APC equipment is very high quality and very capable, but it seems that some basic things were overlooked in the details.

    If you need anyone to beta test new features, I'm willing to do so.


  • bimmerdriver

    To illustrate the need for improvements in the firmware and software, yesterday, I had two momentary brown-outs. Both were very short in duration. The UPS went on battery and within a second, it was back off battery. This caused the on-battery events to be sent to the clients, triggering shutdown. Of course, the shutdown proceeded, even though the power was restored.

    There should be a setting in the UPS to allow for a configurable delay before sending the on-battery event.

    There should be a setting in the network shutdown software allowing the shutdown to be cancelled if an off-battery event is received before the shutdown occurs.

    Along with the above changes, the powerchute software needs to support actions triggered by percentage of charge remaining. The current method which only supports time remaining does not work when load shedding is performed.

  • wopper

    I have PCNS configured with an "on battery" event delay of 60s. Which covers al the hickups and glitches without starting the server shutdown workflow in PCNS. If you have also baremetal servers instead of virtualized servers. There should be some user configurable timers within https://code.google.com/archive/p/winnut/downloads

  • bimmerdriver

    Have you actually tested that if the power restores before the delay expires that the computer will not shut down? When I tried this delay, it did not have that effect. It only caused the shutdown warning to be displayed for a longer time before the computer shut down.

  • bimmerdriver

    It's been a while since I visited this forum. I had a power outage a few days ago and was reminded of the deficiencies that I posted about above. I checked and found updated firmware for my UPS, updated firmware for my NMC and updated software for the clients. Unless I overlooked something, I didn't see any new features in any of the firmware or software. I'm very disappointed with this UPS, in particular with the lack of obviously useful features that apparently used to be in the software, but were removed (i.e., events based on % charge remaining).

    I can't help but wonder if there are any cases where APC can demonstrate that it actually listens to its users and implements requested functionality. Looking at the release notes, I don't see any evidence of it. I've since recommended to people looking for a UPS to look elsewhere.

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