How to Choose the Best Rack PDU for Your Cloud, Edge, Colo, or Telecom Data Center

Posted by Isaiah LaJoie on February 11, 2020

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At Servertech, we’ve been tossing around the idea of putting together a single, definitive blog that would cover the topic of choosing the right rack mount PDU for ANY data center, whether it be a Cloud, Edge, Colocation, Telecom, or Enterprise application.  Each one of these types of data centers, as noted below, is unique.  The way that the big Cloud providers approach their data centers, for example, is quite different than the way a team designing one for a colocation provider would solve the rack mount power distribution riddle. 

So, for the definitive answer to choosing the right rack PDU based on your data center submarket, read on.

First things first: what defines each of the data center types?  For Cloud providers, the keyword is scale.  Cloud data centers are large – very large – with an electrical infrastructure to match.  Cloud data centers operated by the ‘big four’ tech companies redefined what a ‘normal’ massive data center should look like.  At the opposite end of the spectrum is the newest kid on the block: the Edge data center.  What you might think of as an edge data center may not look anything like a data center at all.  By definition, they are small and modular.  Sometimes housed in a container, sometimes located in rack close to the data it is collecting, Edge data centers are everything their hyperscale brethren are not:  light, nimble, flexible, and at the source.

Somewhere between the massive and the micro extremes of the data center world reside colocation, telecom, and enterprise data centers.  These types of facilities are generally purpose-built, meaning that they are designed for a specific location or business application.  The approach to designing an enterprise data center is typically the most conservative.  These types of data centers are not sources of revenue for their owners, and an emphasis is placed on the most economical way to achieve reliability.  By contrast, Telecom data centers are an indirect source of revenue for their owners.  They are also subject to the most design restrictions in order to stay compliant within the regulated environment in which they operate.  Within this broad category, colocation data centers are the most varied in terms of design, with data center choices varying from market to market and provider to provider. 

At this point, it is probably clear what types of rack mount power distribution units are found in each type of facility.  It’s obvious, right?  Wrong, of course. The answer is that this is not a simple topic, nor is there a simple answer. In fact, it's the very reason why we have 3500 active SKUs in our system.

Every data center type has different requirements depending on the needs of the tenant, host, business owner, end-user, etc.  Some Cloud providers may opt for a customized Basic PDU in order to minimize expenses, while others might choose remote management and even outlet-level monitoring. Some Edge sites may require a lot of C19 outlets and remote outlet switching and monitoring, and some may not. Some Colocation providers want switched outlets while others only want monitoring.

The real answer is that the right rack PDU is the one that you build for your environment, which is why we leave it to you with our BYOPDU, or the Build Your Own PDU tool. 

Because Power is All We Do