The Raritan Blog

What is an intelligent PDU?

Rick Gonedes
April 11, 2018

An Intelligent Power Distribution Unit (iPDU) is a networked power distribution unit that increases the efficiencies of data centers with real-time remote power monitoring, environmental monitoring, and data center infrastructure integration. Intelligent rack PDUs deliver technologies which enables a smarter IT infrastructure so you can stay ahead of problems before they occur. They help achieve the ultimate goal of any data center manager, maintaining uptime while reducing cost.

Different Types of Rack PDUs

Intelligent PDUs

  • Metered Inlet PDUs:  Metered inlet PDUs meter power at the PDU inlet-level and display data both locally and over a network.
  • Metered Outlet PDUs:  Metered outlet PDUs offer the same features as the metered inlet PDUs, in addition to metering at the outlet-level, and they also display data both locally and over a network.
  • Switched PDUs:  Switched PDUs offer the same features as the metered inlet PDUs and enable authorized users to securely power-cycle outlets in a specific order, remotely.
  • Switched PDUs with Outlet metering:  Switched PDUs with outlet metering combine all the capabilities of the switched PDUs and the outlet metered PDUs.

Intelligent PDUs are the best choice to reduce cost, increase availability, provide energy efficiency, and manage existing capacity.

Non-Intelligent PDUs

  • Basic PDUs:  Basic PDUs are power strips used in data center environments.  They distribute voltage and current to supply power to racked IT equipment.
  • Monitored PDUs:  Monitored PDUs allow a user to view a local display that typically provides information on the electrical current.  These units have no network connectivity capabilities and cannot be accessed remotely.

Why Should Today’s Data Center Utilize Intelligent PDUs?  Here are some distinct advantages intelligent PDUs deliver:

Increased uptime.  IT administrators can monitor power at the device level or PDU level with user-defined thresholds and be alerted on potential issues before they occur, keeping mission-critical systems running at peak performance.

Capacity planning: Be aware of your power consumption down to the device level, baseline utilization to predict equipment failure, identify stranded capacity to accurately plan floor expansions, and better negotiate your colocation/facilities SLAs.

Reduce costs and power consumption.  Utilizing outlet level power monitoring together with trend analysis, iPDUs can monitor server performance and quickly reboot crashed systems without incurring the cost of site visits.  IT Equipment not being used during off-hours can be powered down to conserve energy.

Green data center.  Conserving energy by providing optimal control over AC, heat, and humidity will reduce carbon footprints.  Environmental sensors attached to intelligent PDUs can help data center managers improve efficiency.

Real-time data collection.  Intelligent PDUs collect real-time current (amps), voltage, power (kVA, kW), and energy consumption (kWh).  Intelligent PDUs work in conjunction with DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) solutions to provide reports that alert any unforeseen issues and help comprehend real-time power load, capacity, and trends at all levels of data center infrastructure.

With a discernable increase in the amount of data generated due to process automation in the typical ever-changing data center, the demand for intelligent PDUs has increased recently.  The ability to access critical information both locally and remote play a pivotal role as well.

Basic PDUs retail for less and may initially appear to be a better buy in today’s budget-restrained data center, however, Intelligent PDUs deliver much greater value and cost savings in the long term in addition to providing a reduced carbon footprint leading to a greener data center.

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