The system gathers all of this data primarily via SNMP. Just about any modern network-connected device should be capable of reporting that sort of data. For equipment that can't do so -- say, an older legacy system -- an organization would need to install an adapter. The product supports a range of legacy devices and proprietary protocols to accommodate a company's infrastructure requirements, CA says.
Once up and running, the system makes array data easily accessible in any number of configurations -- such as customizable charts and graphs, as well as geographical views -- via a graphical Web-based interface. A user might take a high-level view of an organization's energy consumption trends among far-flung facilities. The user could then drill down to a specific datacenter to see, for example, its current PUE (Power Utilization Effectiveness). You can even drill all the way down to the circuit level of a piece of datacenter hardware.
[ PUE can be a useful metric -- but don't put too much stock in it. Here's why. ]
Another interesting and potential useful function: ecoMeter provides unified views of energy use for all components serving a common application. Thus, an organization could determine the costs of running the sales department's CRM application or the IT department's test lab. That sort of data can be handy for budgeting and/or setting up departmental charge-backs for energy consumption.
This level of insight equips an organization with the power to make informed decisions about adjusting temperature, equipment types, facility layout, and much more. You could, for example, raise the temperature in a datacenter by a few degrees and monitor the impact on energy usage, as well as whether it results in hot spots. If you discover a positive outcome, based on concrete, measurable data, you can apply that change to other facilities.
In my tour of the product, CA reps guided me from a U.S. map, depicting several datacenter locations, from which we drilled down to an interior map that included icons for various pieces of equipment, of a particular facility. We were able to click on the facility's backup power generator icon, for example, and determine that it was operational -- and had an ample supply of fuel.