How Can Intelligent PDUs Improve Your Data Center?

RJ Tee
July 18, 2018

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Let’s be honest: Your data center is one of the most expensive components of your organization. For this reason, your key stakeholders may very well be considering outsourcing operations to a cost-effective colocation center at some point in the future if you don’t gain control over your spending.

Why is your data center so expensive to operate? There are countless contributing factors. First and foremost, infrastructure is not cheap. Every year, a large portion of your budget is allocated toward hefty CAPEX and OPEX on equipment and cutting-edge technologies. Plus, there are workers’ salaries to consider, as well as costs related to heating, cooling, and real estate.

Unfortunately, you can’t do much to reduce the Top majority of the aforementioned expenses. Laying off employees or downsizing your operation will only make matters more difficult for your department—especially now that your business is depending so heavily on its network.

But there’s one huge inefficiency you can streamline: Your rampant, unchecked electricity usage. For most data centers, electricity is a major expense which costs hundreds of thousands—or even millions—of dollars annually.

By gaining control over your power usage at the rack level, you can slash costs and waste while also making your data center operationally safer.  

One tool that will help you accomplish this goal is a Smart power distribution unit (PDU). A smart PDU works just like a standard PDU in that it reliably delivers power directly to the rack. A smart PDU differs, however, in that it streams real-time and historical power and environmental data for each unit. This data can be accessed over any Web browser, which is ideal for IT managers in charge of multiple facilities.

The primary benefit of using a smart PDU is that it allows you to identify problematic devices that are using large amounts of power on a daily basis. You may notice, for instance, a particular rack that is constantly running, yet is serving no real purpose for your data center on a daily basis; this is called a zombie server. Once you get a sense of all of the equipment you are running and their average power loads, you can then make strategic decisions to reduce energy consumption.

A Smart PDU will also provide you with the freedom to experiment with different power densities, without fear of tripping your circuit breakers in the process. This is where a smart PDU’s environmental monitoring comes in handy. When consolidating devices and experimenting with different densities, it’s vital to keep a close watch on temperature and humidity levels. Otherwise, your devices could overheat and cause a fire.

One thing to keep in mind before buying a smart PDU is that not all models offer the same level of visibility and control. In addition to environmental control and remote monitoring, here are some key features you should look for in a smart PDU:

  • Branch circuit protection: If too much electric current passes into a conductor, it could overheat or damage the equipment. A Smart PDU with branch circuit protection will protect your equipment from overcurrents, thus providing peace of mind and enabling healthier equipment life cycles.
  • Input current monitoring: Be sure to look for local LED input current monitoring. This will help prevent phase-related accidents while IT is installing rack or cabinet equipment.
  • Strong security: One of the risks of using a smart PDU is that if hackers break into your network, they could potentially see power distribution information for all of your servers. It’s therefore critical to invest in a smart PDU that comes with strong security settings and access controls (to prevent unauthorized users from gaining access).

Server Technology’s smart PDUs come with all of the above-listed features. They’re also capable of integrating with Server Technology’s our partner Sunbird's Power IQ software solution for easy configuration, reporting and capacity planning, as well as its expansion unit for extra outlets. These PDUs are designed primarily for monitoring and power distribution purposes, and cannot provide switching on an individual outlet basis. However, if you are looking for this feature, you will find it in the Smart POPs PDU, or the Switched POPs PDU.

It’s time to take the intelligent approach to data center power management. By investing in Smart PDUs, you can gain more visibility and insight into your data center’s power usage than you ever thought possible.

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