With literally hundreds of different models of rack-mounted power distribution units (PDUs) to choose from these days, it can be intimidating for customers to figure out what’s best for their data centers – which presents an opportunity for APC by Schneider Electric partners to help.
In making a decision on rack PDUs, customers also have to consider which will best help them maintain system availability and support the sorts of high-density and energy efficient equipment that many are migrating to. They’re also concerned about ability to support future generations of equipment and how they will play with data center trends like virtualization and converged infrastructure.
Given all the variables, partners are in a good position to act as a trusted advisor, guiding customers through the rack PDU selection process. That will involve a discussion about the equipment in the rack, power distribution within the site, and preference for additional functionality.
As explained in APC by Schneider Electric white paper number 202, “How to Choose IT Rack Power Distribution,” we recommend the discussion follow an “inside out” order:
- Determine output plug type and quantity
- Estimate power capacity
- Determine input plug type
- Select visibility and control options
- Select form factor and mounting
The paper explains each step in some detail, and each is certainly important. But for partners, I suspect the most interesting discussions may fall under number 4, around selecting various monitoring and control options.
One of them involves the level of visibility customers want or need into the level of power consumption by their PDUs, either at any given moment or over some period of time. Customers have three options: basic, monitoring and metering.
The basic level provides no data about power consumption. Even if a rack is close to tripping a breaker, customers won’t be aware of it. In the monitoring view, a local screen provides information on instantaneous consumption. That’s helpful in determining circuit load status, for example, but only at that instant in time.
A metering view, on the other hand, allows for more trend analysis. Metered PDUs have a built-in network management card that enables them to perform functions such as providing alerts when circuits approach their maximum capacity and if breakers are at risk of tripping. Metered PDUs can also issue alerts when loads approach predetermined thresholds, enabling users to address the issue before it causes a serious problem.
Data that metered PDUs collect can be stored for later trend analysis, enabling more informed decisions about where to add new devices, for example. Partners can make the case for how this type of proactive analysis will help customers eliminate downtime from tripped breakers.
Switching functionality, which allows individual outlets to be switched on and off remotely, is another helpful rack PDU feature. Should a server or switch need a reboot, as they occasionally do, it typically requires an IT staffer to physically walk to the affected device to perform the reboot. Besides the challenge of finding the right device in the first place, this can be a real problem for locations with no IT staff, such as branch offices. A switched PDU enables remote IT personnel to perform the chore, with far greater accuracy because they have visibility into which device is attached to which PDU port.
After assessing requirements and available options, in most cases partners will be able to help customers standardize on one or two rack PDUs that will meet their needs. To learn more, download the free white paper number 202, “How to Choose IT Rack Power Distribution.” You may also want to check out the free APC by Schneider Electric Rack PDU pocket guide, which neatly spells out all the models and features, as well as our online Rack PDU Selector, which will help you walk customers through all the options.
There’s a lot to consider when selecting rack-based PDUs, but I think you’ll find these resources to be a big help.