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The Big Decision: Selecting Smart vs. Switched Data Center PDUs

Posted by Erik Stabile on Jan 11, 2018 10:40:00 AM

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Updated Jan 11, 2018, originally posted Jun 29, 2016 

Recently, many customers have inquired about whether they should implement smart or switched power distribution units (PDUs) into their data centers. After all, when looking at the two products side by side, they appear to be almost identical, as both products offer the following features:

  • Branch circuit protection
  • Input current monitoring
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Access, security and communications
  • An expansion module
  • Interoperability with Server Technology’s Sentry Power Manager (SPM)

There is one major difference, though, between smart and switched PDU: A switched PDU provides the ability to toggle power on and off on a per-outlet basis. As such, a switched PDU typically offers more control and flexibility on an outlet where it’s being used.

Conversely, a smart PDU will provide the same level of critical power and environmental data, but will not allow you to make changes to the outlet from a central location. Smart PDUs are more for monitoring and reporting purposes.

Here are some reasons a business would consider investing in a switched PDU:

Rebooting and power-up sequencing: When a core network device fails, it doesn’t always need to be taken in for service, or manually inspected. Sometimes, all it takes is a reboot to correct the underlying error. Reboots aren’t always easy, though, particularly for multisite data centers or colocation facilities. They can be time consuming and expensive, if they require sending technicians out to the actual data center to complete the task. Using a switched PDU, reboots can be performed remotely from a Web interface—thus potentially eliminating the need to deploy service technicians.

Switched PDUs also come in handy following power outages. In this case, operators need to be careful to avoid power surges when powering up equipment, as this can lead to additional network downtime. A switched PDU can enable staged power-up sequencing, allowing the network to ease back up to scale. 

“Locking out” unused outlets: Resources like space, power and cooling come at a premium price in medium-to-large data centers—especially in growing facilities. For this reason, it can be very challenging trying to deploy new IT equipment safely. Before a device can be installed into a cabinet, it’s vital to track the cabinet’s power usage and environmental conditions over time. Otherwise, installing the device could prove to be dangerous.

Suffice to say, in a medium-to-large environment it can be very difficult trying to keep a running historical account of each cabinet’s usage history and available capacity. With the help of a switched PDU, though, managers can easily identify outlets which are not safe for use based on aggregated historical data. Then, the outlet can be toggled off so that no equipment can be added to it. 

Scheduling power loads: Many data centers waste power by continuing to run equipment during off-hours when the network is not being fully used, usually because it is more cost-effective to keep the equipment running and saves time over having to manually reboot. A switched PDU allows operators to strategically schedule each outlet to avoid wasting power. As we explained in a recent white paper, one government agency was actually able to reduce power usage in their POC data center by an average of 50 percent for any given week using a switched PDU. It should also be noted that switched PDUs are ideal for identifying and eliminating “zombie” servers, or comatose servers that use large volumes of data over time by running idly.

The aforementioned points are just some of the benefits to using a switched PDU, and the white paper contains many more.

Keep in mind, though, that determining the right type of PDU can be very complex.  (We can help you decide which PDU is best for your application within our rack pdu buying guide) And in some cases, a switched PDU may not be the best choice to fit your needs. For example, if you are managing a single facility, there may be little need to use remote management technologies; your staff members may prefer to perform outlet changes manually. The scope of your operation, your risk factor for downtime, your budgetary allowance and your staff members’ preferences should all be considered when deciding what type of PDU to use.  

Server Technology can outfit your business with smart or switched PDUs—and both can be equipped with Per Outlet Power Sensing (POPS) technology capable of reporting voltage, kW power, current, crest factor and power factor. Server Technology also offers metered and basic PDUs. With all of the options to choose from, it's easy to become overwhelmed when deciding which PDU is right for your data center. With this in mind, we've created a handy rack PDU selection wizard and flow chart that addresses all levels of power needs, as well as describes each of the PDU features.

Click to try our PDU selection wizard

Topics: switched PDUs, data center power, smart pdus

Pushing the Easy Button: Tips for Remote Power Management

Posted by RJ Tee on Aug 15, 2017 11:50:47 AM

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For those of you who are working through the issues of remotely managing your data center power, or are thinking about heading in that direction, we have a few pearls of wisdom.

There is definitely some confusion in the industry about smart versus switched power distribution units.  I’d like to take a minute to talk about the latter.  Although both types of rack PDU’s have the same features such as circuit protection, monitoring, security, and communications, it is the switched variety that opens the doors to remotely managing your data center.

Not exactly like a T.V. remote, but I think you know what I mean.

Switched PDU’s give you the ability to control power to a server or other device using a single command to the unit.  Particularly handy for multi-site or colocation applications, the ability to reboot a machine without leaving your desk is a big step for productivity improvement, and one giant leap for mankind.

You can also more closely control power utilization at the rack level.  Based on trending data or analysis of the historical use of equipment within a rack, a data center manager can lock out unused outlets so that the circuit feeding the rack is not overloaded.  Again, managing power at the rack is now an armchair activity.

Data centers are also known to waste power by running equipment during off-hours when it is not in use.  But what if you could push a button and manage the working hours of your equipment?   A switched PDU allows operators to strategically schedule power to specific equipment to improve the efficiency of their facilities and reduce their electrical bills.

For more information about these kinds of strategies, take a look at a recent white paper about a government agency that reduced its power usage, by an average of 50 percent, using a switched PDU.

Learn more about how Server Technology can improve your remote data center management, click here.

 

click to view the Servertech rack PDU buying guide

 

Topics: switched PDUs, Remote Power Monitoring, remote power management

The Big Decision: Smart vs. Switched Data Center PDUs

Posted by Erik Stabile on Dec 28, 2016 4:37:24 PM

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Recently, many customers have inquired about whether they should implement smart or switched power distribution units (PDUs) into their data centers. After all, when looking at the two products side by side, they appear to be almost identical, as both products offer the following features:

  • Branch circuit protection
  • Input current monitoring
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Access, security and communications
  • An expansion module
  • Interoperability with Server Technology’s Sentry Power Manager (SPM)

There is one major difference, though, between smart and switched PDU: A switched PDU provides the ability to toggle power on and off on a per-outlet basis. As such, a switched PDU typically offers more control and flexibility on an outlet where it’s being used.

Conversely, a smart PDU will provide the same level of critical power and environmental data, but will not allow you to make changes to the outlet from a central location. Smart PDUs are more for monitoring and reporting purposes.

Here are some reasons a business would consider investing in a switched PDU:

Rebooting and power-up sequencing: When a core network device fails, it doesn’t always need to be taken in for service, or manually inspected. Sometimes, all it takes is a reboot to correct the underlying error. Reboots aren’t always easy, though, particularly for multisite data centers or colocation facilities. They can be time consuming and expensive, if they require sending technicians out to the actual data center to complete the task. Using a switched PDU, reboots can be performed remotely from a Web interface—thus potentially eliminating the need to deploy service technicians.

Switched PDUs also come in handy following power outages. In this case, operators need to be careful to avoid power surges when powering up equipment, as this can lead to additional network downtime. A switched PDU can enable staged power-up sequencing, allowing the network to ease back up to scale. 

“Locking out” unused outlets: Resources like space, power and cooling come at a premium price in medium-to-large data centers—especially in growing facilities. For this reason, it can be very challenging trying to deploy new IT equipment safely. Before a device can be installed into a cabinet, it’s vital to track the cabinet’s power usage and environmental conditions over time. Otherwise, installing the device could prove to be dangerous.

Suffice to say, in a medium-to-large environment it can be very difficult trying to keep a running historical account of each cabinet’s usage history and available capacity. With the help of a switched PDU, though, managers can easily identify outlets which are not safe for use based on aggregated historical data. Then, the outlet can be toggled off so that no equipment can be added to it. 

Scheduling power loads: Many data centers waste power by continuing to run equipment during off-hours when the network is not being fully used, usually because it is more cost-effective to keep the equipment running and saves time over having to manually reboot. A switched PDU allows operators to strategically schedule each outlet to avoid wasting power. As we explained in this white paper, one government agency was actually able to reduce power usage in their POC data center by an average of 50 percent for any given week using a switched PDU. It should also be noted that switched PDUs are ideal for identifying and eliminating “zombie” servers, or comatose servers that use large volumes of data over time by running idly.

The aforementioned points are just some of the benefits to using a switched PDU, and the white paper contains many more.

Keep in mind, though, that determining the right type of PDU can be very complex. And in some cases, a switched PDU may not be the best choice to fit your needs. For example, if you are managing a single facility, there may be little need to use remote management technologies; your staff members may prefer to perform outlet changes manually. The scope of your operation, your risk factor for downtime, your budgetary allowance and your staff members’ preferences should all be considered when deciding what type of PDU to use.  

Server Technology can outfit your business with smart or switched PDUs—and both can be equipped with Per Outlet Power Sensing (POPS) technology capable of reporting voltage, kW power, current, crest factor and power factor. Server Technology also offers metered and basic PDUs. To see a side-by-side comparison of all of Server Technology’s PDUs, click here.

Topics: switched PDUs, data center power, smart pdus

It’s Time to Declare War on Data Center Power Inefficiency

Posted by Erik Stabile on Jul 25, 2016 1:44:46 PM

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Your data center is suffering from severe power inefficiency, with electricity bills costing your business thousands of dollars every month.

As a result of your exorbitant power bills, your data center is consistently over budget. As a result, your business is pumping too much money into the data center, and not enough into areas that are critical for organizational growth, like product development and customer acquisition.

For this reason, it’s imperative that you get a handle on your data center’s power consumption before management decides to slash your budget or, worse, outsource operations to a hosted provider.

It’s time to declare war on power waste in your data center. And the target in this war will be your cabinets, where as much as 60 percent of all energy in the data center is consumed.

Now, it may be tempting to start making changes in your data center environment on your own, by adjusting cabinet densities without any supporting technologies.

Take our advice, and avoid doing this at all costs.

Without a reliable power management solution, altering cabinet densities can be very risky. You will be in grave danger of overloading your circuits, and increasing temperatures in the back of your cabinets. This could, in turn, damage your equipment and even start a fire.

If you want to win the war against power waste, here is the ultimate weapon: Server Technology’s advanced PDU power management platform, PRO2. PRO2 is a line of switched PDUs—available for either single- or three-phase power distribution—that was specifically designed to help enterprises manage heavy data center workloads.

PRO2 provides the real-time and historical data required to understand how your data center is using electricity, as well as the tools that are required for taking action and improving efficiencies.

Here is a look at how PRO2 can help your business streamline power management:

Advanced monitoring and alerts: All PRO2 outlets come with per inlet power sensing (PIPS), for directly monitoring inlets/infeeds. Three-phase PRO2 units can also be used for per-outlet power sensing POPs, for monitoring the outlet or device. What’s more, PRO2 units enable monitoring for individual branches and phases. Should a circuit breaker or fuse trip while PRO2 is being used, an alert can be sent via SNMP or email so that action can be taken. This is where PRO2’s switched feature comes in handy, too; managers can toggle power on and off as needed, to save time and restore service quickly.

Critical environmental monitoring: With its built-in temperature and humidity probes, PRO2 solutions collect environmental temperature and humidity data external to a cabinet’s devices. This information is important for a number of reasons. It will let you know how much cooling is required, which can possibly lead to reduced cooling costs. Plus, keeping equipment at the right temperature prolongs its lifespan and improves its operational effectiveness. You will also be able to reduce downtime from accidents related to overheating. It should also be noted that PRO2 was specifically designed to perform in high density/high temperature environments.

Easier capacity planning: PRO2 will let you know how much power your cabinets require. It will also let you know how much power you have available. By using PRO2, it’s possible to determine whether it’s safe to install new equipment into your data center, without causing an outage. Use PRO2 to guide new purchases and installations.

More uptime: One of the greatest benefits of PRO2 is the redundancy that it affords. As a standalone product, PRO2 offers the highest level of density for its form factor on the market. Additionally, you can link PRO2 units together. It’s possible to link one master unit with up to three linked units; and doing so will only require using one IP address. This setup can even be split between two cabinets. The benefit to linking—aside from greater cost savings and added flexibility—is that if one unit fails, the others continue running. As a result, power will not be lost in the cabinet.

Here is a list of PRO2 products to choose from:

  • Single-phase PIPs switched 200-240v, up to 32A
  • Single-phase PIPs + POPs switched 200-240v, up to 32A
  • Three-phase PIPs switched 208v, 30A
  • Three-phase PIPs switched 415v, 32 A
  • Three-phase PIPs + POPs switched 208v, 30A
  • Three-phase PIPs + POPS switched 415v, 32A

Want to learn more about Server Technology’s PRO2 solutions? Check out our white paper.

Topics: switched PDUs, PRO2

With SPM Onboard, Switched PDUs Gain Superpowers

Posted by Josh Schaap on Jul 6, 2016 4:19:44 PM

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Previously, we’ve talked about how networking giant Cisco tapped into the power of Server Technology’s High Density Outlet Technology (HDOT) when it was time to update the infrastructure in its labs. This week, we’ll look at how Cisco also turned to Server Technology to keep its highly successful WebEx technology at the top of its game.

Anyone who has ever participated in an online meeting or webinar is probably familiar with Cisco’s WebEx technology, which brings high definition audio and video, clear images and more effective communication to virtual collaboration and learning. As you might imagine, the demand for bandwidth and infrastructure to keep WebEx running optimally is a high one. As this demand has steadily increased, Cisco has sought to grow its datacenter infrastructure to avoid exceeding power circuit capacity levels at its internal data centers and colocation facilities.

Ultimately, what Cisco needed most was the right information to make crucial decisions that would impact its capacity planning. Cisco concluded that it needed intelligent power strips featuring the ability to report power consumption remotely. Remote power outlet management was also a must-have for Cisco. Server Technology’s Power Strategy Experts helped guide Cisco toward PDUs from our Switched family of products. With Sentry Power Manager (SPM) installed, Cisco now had the power to gather and analyze data from its PDUs.

As a result, WebEx data centers feature PDUs configured with capacity warning levels, proper strip and outlet naming in addition to outlet management restrictions. Now, Cisco can deploy hardware in rows and exceed the rated power capacity while maintaining the aggregate load under the circuit’s ability to deliver. Uptime has increased and breaker trips are down. Also, Cisco has the ability to monitor temperature and humidity in its Switched PDUs, allowing it to predict whether its hardware is failing or about to fail.

To learn more about how Server Technology helped support Cisco’s capacity planning efforts, read the full case study here.

Topics: switched PDUs

Keeping Up With Data Demands In The Medical Field

Posted by Erik Stabile on May 3, 2016 4:37:15 PM

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Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Wise, biological scientist in the oncology lab of Christopher Cogle

Things, as they say, change. This statement holds particularly true in the medical field, where advancements often take place at lightning speed. New technologies supplant old ones overnight, and best practices are rewritten with each passing day.

No one knows this more than our client, University of Florida Health. As technologies such as X-ray and PET scans have been converted from film to digital imaging and as medical records transition from paper to digital, the need for secure, HIPAA-compliant servers has grown exponentially. As a result, UF Health has expanded from a single data center to four over the past decade, with Data Center Manager Joseph Keena overseeing each move.

Keena and UF Health were recently eyeing a new data center space with a higher ceiling than normal, which would allow his team to deploy racks taller than 42U. To accommodate this new space, Keena needed a customer power solution to fit the cabinets and increased power densities that came with them. Unsure of whether blade servers or 1U would work best, Keena and his team contacted the power strategy experts at Server Technology.

The answer came in the form of Server Technology’s Switched family of products, which enabled Keena’s team to access their PDUs remotely while gathering environmental and power data. With Sentry Power Manager added into the mix, Keena was able to add environmental probes to his cabinets so he could see the temperature and humidity at a granular, rack-by-rack level.

Today, Keena and the UF Health team are armed with detailed data they could have only previously dreamed about. With the environmental data at his command, Keena can draw up graphical representations of all points within the data center, overlaying this information with real time data. He can also use SPM’s graphs and trending reports to prevent outages due to bad power supplies.

UF Health’s decades-long partnership with Server Technology is a testament to the power of working with customers to find workable solutions to their problems, something we do every day.

Click to Read the UF Health Case Study

 

Topics: switched PDUs, SPM, case study

An Answer For Every Challenge: Switched PDUs for Capacity Planning

Posted by Josh Schaap on Feb 22, 2016 10:36:30 AM

Switched PDUs for Capacity Planning

Our client was facing a very nice – but very real – problem: as a facilitator of webinars, it was experiencing unprecedented growth year after year. Webinars, those ubiquitous online teaching and conference platforms, are bringing people across the globe into the same virtual meeting rooms with increasing frequency each day. With this expansion comes the need for increased bandwidth and infrastructure requirements, resulting in technical challenges for the webinar operators.

Our client decided it was time to take action when its hardware was running at such high levels that they exceeded the capacity of power circuits both in their internal data centers and colocation facilities. Another key challenge involved having enough granular data to show the power consumption of a particular application. Coupling that with the need for better power capacity planning and the desire to reduce “remote hands calls” at colocation facilities, it was clear the Server Technology experts were needed.

Server Technology provided the perfect solution to our client’s problem in its Switched product family of CDUs. Thanks to the wide variety of Switched products we offer along with the regulatory requirements of the geographies needed to be supported, this turned out to be an ideal solution. With the Switched solution, our client was able to configure its CDUs with capacity warning levels, perform strip and outlet naming and generally maximize the effectiveness of its power management tools. Our client also implemented Sentry Power Manager to help gather and analyze data coming from the Switched CDUs.

For the client, the time spent with the power strategy experts at Server Technology resulted in better data, better utilization and better uptime. Of course, every case is unique. That’s why our team takes the time to understand your particular needs before developing a solution for you. Sometimes the answer involves new hardware, but often it comes in the form of better understanding the capabilities within your existing hardware and software combinations. That’s just one way we help you “Be Supported.”

Learn more about how STI can help find a tailored solution for your data center challenges here.

Topics: switched PDUs, capacity planning

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