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The Rack PDU’s Role in Battling Cyber Threats

Posted by RJ Tee on Jan 23, 2018 1:47:25 PM


One of the ongoing issues facing data center managers is cybersecurity, and the rack PDU may play a surprising role in the protection of the IT systems housed within the mission critical facility. While threats of intrusion are as old as the IMSAI 8080 from the movie WarGames, the intelligent power strip is a surprising new actor in the ongoing security battle.

Shall we play a game?

There is a lot written these days about artificial intelligence, or AI, and its role in the data center, including some recent discussions in this column. Some see in AI the possibility of automating routine maintenance and operating tasks. For others, AI is the means for collecting and processing facility-related data in volumes that would be impossible for humans to complete. The thinking behind this application is that a future form of AI will apply algorithms to all of the data collected to detect trends and promote self-healing within the data center.

Much of the software development effort today falls under the category of data center optimization. New programs promise to improve the performance of the electrical and mechanical infrastructure by dynamically linking its operation to the activity cycles of the equipment that is processing away in the racks. In fact, optimizing the infrastructure to the load is the promise of DCIM; predictively doing so is the promise of AI.

Somewhere along the way, it has been noted that there was a direct correlation between IT equipment performance data and the signs of a cyber-attack. As it turns out, the IT hardware itself provides clues that it is under attack, but these clues are difficult for humans to detect. Abnormal increases in processing activity, equipment temperature, and power draw all point to the possibility of nefarious use.

So, what does that have to do with a rack power distribution unit?

We at Server Technology do not think that it is far-fetched to envision a situation in which one of our Switched or Smart power distribution units is the data collection gateway for rack-level security. Our Sentry Power Manager (SPM) software is already designed to collect information about rack temperatures, access, and outlet level power consumption. This data, collected and monitored in real time, can provide a baseline against which AI security software can identify change-of-state conditions for any of the equipment in the room.

It’s interesting to think that something as simple as a rack-mount PDU can provide the clues needed to halt a cyber thief in his tracks. At Server Technology, we are here not only to help you stay powered and get ahead of threats.




Topics: SPM, Security, intelligent PDUs, data center security, Switched PDU, smart PDU

Five Reasons to be Thankful for Intelligent Data Center PDUs

Posted by RJ Tee on Nov 21, 2017 10:15:11 AM


One tool that every data center administrator can be thankful for this year is intelligent power distribution units (PDUs). Recent advancements in the data center PDU market have drastically improved the way that power is managed at the rack level. Over the last few years, intelligent PDUs have gone from a disruptive new technology to a staple tool — and something that every data center should be using to streamline efficiencies.

So in the spirit of Turkey Day, here are five reasons to be thankful for intelligent PDUs.

Intelligent PDUs…

1. Help control costs:

Data centers are notoriously expensive. But oftentimes, it has little to do with the cost of power more to do with the fact that data center administrators have little to no idea how power is being distributed around the data center. Intelligent PDUs allow administrators to see exactly where power is being allocated in the data center.

2. Improve sustainability:

Many organizations today are “going green” in some form or another. But many are failing to address their heavy data center power footprints. Data centers can consume enormous amounts of energy. By measuring power at the rack level with an intelligent PDU, data center administrators can better understand how servers are consuming resources — and take active measures to eliminate waste.

Read how you can benefit with the top environmental monitoring tools.

3. Streamline reporting:

In the past, the majority of data center reporting was done using either pencil and paper-based systems, or spreadsheets. Both of these systems were prone to fraud and abuse. Intelligent PDUs can connect to Web-based monitoring and management systems, which can collect data, organize it into reports and export these reports to team members via email.

4. Identify zombie servers:

Data centers often have hundreds or even thousands of “zombie” servers, or idle machines that suck up power. The problem is that it’s not easy to tell which machines are active, and which ones are zombies. Intelligent PDUs can provide immediate insight, allowing administrators to shut down inactive machines and prevent waste.

5. Improve uptime:

Ultimately, there is one word that every administrator fears: Downtime. Intelligent PDUs come with advanced power alerts and also environmental monitoring—something that is critical for data centers located in areas that are subject to extreme weather shifts. Using intelligent PDUs, administrators can gain better visibility into how their systems are performing.

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Topics: intelligent power strip, uptime, green data center, intelligent PDUs, smart, zombie servers, Switched PDU, smart PDU, Switched

Is Your UPS System Ready for Winter?

Posted by RJ Tee on Nov 13, 2017 2:37:34 PM


According to the latest Farmer’s Almanac, much of the U.S. is in store for a cold, wet winter that will stretch well into March. At least five major storms expected to hit the eastern seaboard.

In just a few short weeks — when the snow starts falling — we will learn which businesses are prepared for winter, and which are not. Businesses that take the time to plan ahead and invest in disaster recovery and business continuity will have a major competitive advantage.

One thing you will want to pay attention to as you winterize your data center is the operability of your uninterruptable power supply (UPS) system. According to a recent study, UPS system failure is now the leading cause of data center downtime.  In fact, UPS system failure now accounts for one quarter of all data center outages.

Remember: When the power goes out, there can’t be any question as to whether or not your UPS system will turn on.  Server Technology can provide you with that peace of mind.

The other leading causes of data center downtime are cybercrime/ DDoS; accidental/ human error; water, heat or CRAC failure; generator failure; and IT equipment failure.

What’s more, 35 percent of organizations lost at least one mission critical application following an outage, while 24.3 percent lost multiple mission critical applications. 18.8 percent lost most or all of their data center functions. And 12.1 percent lost data that could not be recovered.

One way to reduce downtime in your data center is to invest in real-time power monitoring at the rack level. Using Server Technology’s intelligent power distribution units and Sentry Power Manager platform, you can gain advanced insight into the functionality of all of your data center infrastructure.

To learn more how Server Technology can help your business, click here.

Click To Learn More About Server Technology's  Switched Rack PDU Solutions

Topics: intelligent power strip, Sentry Power Manager, uptime, intelligent PDUs, UPS, Switched PDU, smart PDU

Who Put the ‘i’ in PDU?

Posted by RJ Tee on Nov 6, 2017 8:17:24 AM


As I was sitting around the other day and casting about for a topic for this blog post, my colleagues jokingly suggested that we talk about this trend of putting an ‘i’ in front of everything. You know, how an intelligent PDU can be called iPDU or even IP-PDU, the now-normal branding standard of our modern age, the world of iEverything. 

The ‘i’ in the first iMac stood for Internet, not necessarily intelligent. At the time, the idea of an internet-based personal computer was quite revolutionary. The ‘i’ moniker also brings to mind another intelligent ’i’ product, introduced by German sports car company BMW and infamously known as the iDrive. While it originally stood for intelligent, the ‘i’ quickly became known to stand for ‘infuriating.’

My favorite ‘i’ is in the title of the collection of short stories called by Isaac Asimov called I, Robot. In this instance, the ‘i’ can both stand for intelligent and for the first person personal pronoun. In other words the ‘I’ that means ‘me.’ This is the most personal of the uses of ‘i,’ and it is an interesting play on words since there is no personal ‘I’ in a machine. That’s because a machine does not possess a personality or even a soul.

Well, most of them...

So what out of all of this talk about iPDUs – or even better yet, IP-PDUs? This is me trying to swim back to the shallow end of the pool.

I must say that I think all the different meanings of ‘i’ apply in the case of intelligent power distribution units. As the name itself implies, the modern power strip possesses a lot of smarts. By this I mean it can provide volumes of physical data and other environmental information, as well as give you the ability to control its function remotely through it's own IP address, hence, the IP-PDU designation I'm suggesting.

But like the first knob shifter introduced by BMW, intelligent power strips (IP-strips?  Maybe I've gone too far...), or IP-PDU’s  , can also be infuriating. Their smarts come with a provisioning learning curve that makes it tricky for some to put the machine into drive. But with zero touch provisioning, much of this IP-based task has become automated.

And as for the existential question posed by the ‘i’ in I, Robot, I will leave that to you to decide. Do you have conversations with your rack PDUs? And when you speak to them, do they answer back? Don’t you sometimes feel like you have formed a relationship, one that has been very rewarding?

Server Technology was the first to automate configuration and provisioning of their Intelligent PRO Series PDUs via Zero Touch Provisioning, and can therefore occasionally wax philosophical about rack PDUs. For a more serious treatment of the subject, please see our Zero Touch Provisioning whitepaper, or head to our website to see all our intelligent PDUs.

 Learn More About  Server Technology's Intelligent PDUs

Topics: intelligent power strip, power strip, intelligent PDUs, Switched PDU, smart PDU

Nobody Builds A PDU Better Than Our Customers

Posted by Erik Stabile on Jun 14, 2016 3:02:27 PM


Build Your Own PDU, step 1 (choose Smart or Switched), step 5 (select outlet type), step 7 (choosing color quantity and quote)

“If you build it, they will come.”

Many people think they recall this line from Kevin Costner’s 1989 baseball film “Field of Dreams,” but the actual line is, “If you build it, he will come,” referring to the main character’s late father, John Kinsella. Semantics aside, the line holds a powerful message: when you set out to create something of your own – something built for your needs and no one else’s – it’s likely others will find value in it, as well.

So it is with Server Technology’s line of Smart and Switched PDUs, which have served our data center clients well over the years. Server Technology smart PDUs are IP addressable, while featuring remote power and monitoring and environmental monitoring. The switched PDUs include remote outlet switching, remote power monitoring, environmental monitoring and are also IP addressable.

Your selections aren’t limited to our out-of-the-box options, however. In fact, one of the better-known features we offer is the ability to “build-your-own” HDOT PDU. In six easy steps, you can customize your PDU right down to the color for easy identification in your data center.

To get started, head over to our Build Your Own PDU and tell us what you want. It’s not only a snap to build a PDU, but it’s also kind of fun. Build Your Own PDU is a graphic-based tool that shows you in real-time what your PDU will look like so there are no surprises. A zoom view lets you get up close and personal with your PDU.

Start by telling us whether you’re looking for a Smart or Switched unit, then select from several one-phase, three-phase or three-phase alternating voltage choices. From there, you’ll select your power input plug type, power orientation, number of outlets, connectivity (Ethernet and serial or meter-only) and – the really fun part – your color options.

There’s no obligation to purchase the PDU you’ve designed. Simply hit “Request a Quote” for a quick and easy quote from one of our power strategy experts. You’re also given the option to download a custom spec sheet so you can share your creation with other stakeholders. 

Give it a shot. Start building your own custom PDU today.

Topics: build your own PDU, Switched PDU, smart PDU

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