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Signal shutdown to multiple devices without the use of an NMC?

Discussion in UPS Management Devices & PowerChute Software started by First , 7/19/2017 8:09 AM
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  • GrepItAll
    Novice Novice
    First 7/19/2017 8:09 AM


    I have an SMT1000RMI2U UPS which is currently connected via USB to a freestanding (desktop style) windows server. The UPS is rackmounted in a cabinet that contains two NASs from QNAP. All 3 of these server draw their power from the UPS, but only the Windows Server has the ability to 'talk' with the UPS currently.

    The Windows Server runs the PowerChute Business software to facilitate logging and emailing of errors/updates etc.

    The UPS has an unused port for an RJ45-DB9 smart signalling serial cable (which we have lost, but can replace if necessary).

    If I choose to plug the UPS into one of the QNAP servers instead of the windows server, I can slave the second QNAP from it (they communicate over the LAN).

    I have seen some people on this forum say that it is possible to interact with the UPS via USB and serial ports simultaneously, whilst others have said you can't and an APC support agent (via live chat) said that whilst it is in theory possible, we may experience loss of communications.

    I want to be able to signal a shutdown from the UPS to all 3 servers. What this means in practice is signalling it to the Windows Server and ONE of the QNAP servers (as the other can be a slave). Alternatively, the QNAP servers can monitor the status of a connected UPS (via USB or ethernet) natively, so can handle their shutdown rules themselves (meaning that all they need is to see whether utility power is on and what the battery runtime is/how long power has been lost for)

    Signalling the shutdown to the NASs is incredibly important as an ungraceful shutdown could lead to loss of data or damage to the multiple spinning disks inside. But signalling to the Fujitsu server is important as this hosts our user accounts etc. and runs PowerChute for sending out email notifications.

    In my eyes there are several options that I'm wondering if anyone has experience with:

    1. Get a Network Management Card - As a small business, we cannot currently justify this cost and I won't be able to squeeze it into the budget.
    2. Use Network UPS Tools (NUT) or APCD (APC Daemon) instead of PowerChute - Enables the Windows Server to be the only machine with a physical control connection to the UPS, but it can then act as a master to the QNAP servers. However, we then lose our logging and email notifications as well as ease of use (no one here has formal training or experience with this stuff, but I'm fine with a command line)
    3. Same as above, but get either NUT or APCD running alongside PowerChute - Sounds ideal as then everything can talk to the UPS as well as retaining the functionality afforded by PowerChute. However, I imagine this would not work as PowerChute and NUT would both be attempting to talk with the UPS and both install their own drivers - would they both be able to talk to the UPS over a single signalling cable? (only PowerChute would make changes to the UPS; NUT would just listen and relay status info to the QNAP NASs)
    4. Use both the USB and Serial cable together - I can easily justify the cost of a new serial cable, if communication isn't going to be an issue. Windows Server would run PowerChute as before which would tell it when to shutdown. QNAP servers would monitor UPS status natively and choose when to shutdown

    Any help that anyone can give would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    P.S. Although no one here has any real experience with complex UPS setups, we're a technology company so are not afraid to muck about with configs etc or go down the not officially supported route if it means getting results (the UPS is out of warranty anyway)

  • Brad_C
    Apprentice Apprentice
    Brad 7/19/2017 9:31 AM (in response to First)

    I'm unsure of the new generation (SMT/SMX) but certainly the earlier SUA would not do serial & USB together. I'm also not familiar with windows, but I do use APCUPSD to manage several UPS and several servers. This allows full logging, e-mail alerts and pretty much anything else you want to configure it for. I see APCUPSD does support Windows, so that might be an option for you.

    Currently I have 3 servers off one UPS. One talks to the UPS over serial, and the other two talk to the first one using the APCUPSD slave network protocol. It all works like it should. I have a fairly non-standard configuration whereby the first server and network gear stay up as long as I can, so when I get a mains failure the secondary servers shut down after 20 minutes. That gives abut 530 minutes for the main server vs 230 minutes with all running. Enough to ride out most outages or give me time to get the generator out.

    APCUPSD is pretty flexible when you get into it.

  • GrepItAll
    Novice Novice
    First 7/19/2017 2:38 PM (in response to Brad)

    If APCUPSD provides as much functionality as PowerChute, I'm happy to consider switching!

    Annoyingly QNAP servers don't let you change their username or password for network connectivity but I believe that they're compatible with APCUPSD.

    The config you described is what I've been hoping to achieve. Keeping the 'master' server on and powering the QNAP servers down to extend runtime would be ideal and I think the NASs support WoL so can be woken back up by the master.

    Thanks for the advice!

  • Brad_C
    Apprentice Apprentice
    Brad 7/19/2017 2:49 PM (in response to First)

    Please let us know how you get on. I honestly don't know much about the interaction with APCUPSD and Windows, and feedback is always good.

  • GrepItAll
    Novice Novice
    First 7/20/2017 7:57 AM (in response to Brad)

    Will do, just need to find a suitable period of time for me to take the servers offline whilst I tinker with them!

  • GrepItAll
    Novice Novice
    First 10/2/2017 2:38 PM (in response to First)

    Following on from my first message and problem:

    I managed to procure a suitable RJ45->Serial cable for the APC UPS. This is now connected to our Windows Server running PowerChute. The UPS is connected via USB to a QNAP NAS. This in turn acts as a master for a second QNAP NAS, which queries the first for UPS state.

    I can happily confirm that we have had no problems with this setup; both the Windows machine and NASs can query the UPS simultaneously. Only the Windows Server ever changes any settings on the UPS, so this has worked perfectly.

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