NetworkTigers on managing your network stack with a power distribution unit (PDU).
According to the Uptime Institute’s 2022 Outage Analysis, power-related surges and disruptions account for 43% of significant outages that involve significant downtime and financial loss. The single greatest cause of these incidents is uninterruptible power supply failures. The Data Center Resiliency Survey finds that 80% of data center managers and operators report experiencing significant outages over the last three years.
Ensuring appropriate power distribution is one of the most important steps to set up your network stack properly. When designing your data center, choosing the right power distribution unit (PDU) should simplify your maintenance needs, make your network more reliable, and save you money and headaches in the long run.
Understanding your power distribution unit
What is a PDU? You are already familiar with it and have used one or more for some time. In its most basic form, a PDU is a power strip and may come with or without surge protection. PDUs come into play whenever you need to simultaneously distribute power to multiple devices. The most common PDUs can turn one or two ports into eight power outputs.
It is important to note that PDUs are not secondary power sources and do not provide electricity independently. Instead, a PDU supplies AC or DC power from a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) or a generator.
What are the different kinds of power distribution units?
For anything more than a simple small office or home setup, you may want to consider a more advanced PDU than a surge protector. Investing in the appropriate PDU from the start can improve your business’s scalability and avoid data center failures and redundancies. Wall-mounted PDUs, rack PDUs, floor PDUs, and smart PDUs can monitor the power flow into your server or switch and help your network handle larger power loads.
For instance, a rack PDU can be mounted into a server rack and protect your system against electrical surges. Each rack-mounted PDU conserves valuable space, increases the number of available ports, and typically offers Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) remote management capability. Meanwhile, floor-mounted PDUs are intermediaries between your home or office’s primary power source and the equipment racks in a network operations center. Floor PDUs are best for larger offices or network stack setups that involve multiple server racks and need a steady power supply.
Think smart: what to consider when choosing a power distribution unit
The smarter the PDU, the better your power flow and reliability. You can also lower your electricity bill by choosing a PDU with monitoring capabilities to keep track of your power consumption. With an intelligent PDU, you can toggle off non-essential gear and prioritize power to specific resources to maximize UPS delivery. You can even remotely restart devices with certain smart PDUs, making them useful for businesses without onsite IT employees. The most up-to-date PDUs can even let you connect multiple devices via a single port and one IP address, creating a daisy-chain effect that saves you money and hassle.
Smart PDUs can help you monitor your network stack’s power consumption within a 1% billing grade accuracy. An intelligent PDU gives you a better handle on how power is distributed, what you can prioritize, and where waste is occurring within the system.
How to choose a power distribution unit
When deciding on PDUs, consider where your business or operation is growing, and select gear that will meet you where you’re going – not just where you’re starting from. The following are some important considerations when choosing a PDU for your data center:
- Outlet type: Select a PDU with the correct outlet plug and one compatible with your existing equipment.
- Quantity of outlets: Experts recommend choosing a PDU with more C-13 and C-10 outlets than you need now to avoid investing twice as your operation scales.
- Power capacity per IT rack: You may be able to use an online calculator to estimate your total power capacity and ensure you’re selecting gear that will account for all of your equipment.
- Single or three-phase power: Single or three-phase power supplies differ based on construction. Most homes are served by two-wire alternating current (AC) power circuits, known as single-phase power. Three-phase power, designed for accommodating heavier loads, is a three-wire AC power circuit, with each phase AC signal set 120 electrical degrees apart. Choose a PDU that is compatible with the kind of power your site voltage supplies.
- Control and setup options: Different PDUs offer different kinds of power monitoring and power consumption. You can customize many intelligent PDUs based on your current needs.
The main benefit of any PDU is that it makes your overall system more reliable. When surges or outages occur, you know you can protect the equipment you’ve invested in and prevent financial loss from major downtime. Having an appropriate PDU can significantly help get your system back up and running when there are issues with your UPS. In today’s interconnected world, you can’t afford to manage a data center without one.