Power reliability has always been a major concern for the data center industry, but with energy insecurity a weekly headline across all major publications, the need to have complete control and visibility over your data center’s power use has never been more important.

Rack power distribution units (PDUs) have long been used to regulate and manage the power usage within a data center, but according to Calvin Nicholson, we shouldn’t take them for granted.

“Many of us take power quality for granted within the data center market. But what's really happening is that a lot of our customers have looked at the power that they're getting at the device or cabinet level, and they are seeing some issues,” said Nicholson in a recent DCD>Talk.

“Within the devices themselves, with the switch mode power supplies, they're creating a lot of harmonic distortion and issues as well. You can't assume anymore that, based on power type, quality, and location, you have good-quality power being distributed through your devices.”

Power requirements need to be looked at on a device level or cabinet level to be properly managed. But in a data center, the level of insight a basic PDU (or lesser capable intelligent PDU) provides is simply not sufficient anymore. After all, 55 to 60 percent of power consumption in a data center is by the racks and devices.

Nicholson offered a simple comparison of how a next-generation intelligent PDU could change the way power is approached in a data center.

In the case of a blown branch breaker, the employee tasked with fixing it would have to physically go into the system, unplug everything, reset the breaker, and plug everything back in (in a slow one-after-another slow process) to see what devices and corresponding outlet caused the blow in the first place. But an intelligent PDU could do this for you.

“With new tools today, we're going to be able to tell you it was outlet 13 and therefore which device it was. Upon a power event at the outlet or the infeed level, we're going to do a waveform capture, and you're going to be able to see the voltage and current of that waveform and what actually happened at that event. So, it's just going to save you a huge amount of time, effort, and understanding,” said Nicholson.

The ability to remotely monitor and manage your power system is a major benefit of the new generation of intelligent PDUs Server Technology, and Raritan offer. It is constantly gaining data on the system’s functionality, identifying power conditions like dips and swells, total harmonic distortion for current and voltage and other parameters via a variety of sensors.

Not only can this be useful when attempting to diagnose an issue, it can also come into practice when looking at capacity planning.

“A good use case would be ‘I want to install a new server.’ I may know the power draw and temperature at that particular point in time, and while that's interesting and nice to know, what I want to actually know is my actual worst case say on Black Friday.

“So, we can look at this min/max data, we can determine safely over the last year what the min and max values actually were and, therefore, whether you are capable of safely installing that server, whether there is a power constraint or temperature constraint because we can look at worst case,” explained Nicholson.

The new Server Technology PRO4X and Raritan PX4 intelligent rack PDU designs revolutionize capacity planning, workload optimization, environmental monitoring, physical and digital access control, and uptime initiatives, helping solve the power needs of data center operators today while helping them anticipate tomorrow's rack power distribution challenges and problems.

“With all these features, whether it is a dip or swell, breaker diagnostics, or the min-max, we can automatically do waveform captures for those and store the data. You can also manually activate a waveform capture. The diagnostics tie in directly with the remote monitoring in a holistic system that gives you the information you need to command your cabinets and manage your devices, and therefore manage your data center.”

To find out more about Legrand’s PDU solutions, tune into the full DCD>Talk here.