When it comes to rack power distribution units (PDUs) you have, in general, two choices. You are probably most familiar with basic PDUs that contribute to business continuity by providing reliable power distribution to servers, storage devices, and networking equipment in your data center. The other option — intelligent power distribution units — further expand the list of PDU benefits by addressing energy consumption, the demand on circuits, and access control for cabinets and aisles.

There are telltale signs that it might be time to switch from basic power distribution units to intelligent PDUs. Here are three very compelling reasons to consider intelligent PDUs:

1. Your energy costs are through the roof. If you are looking for ways to trim your operating expense budget, consider intelligent power distribution units for your data center. As data center traffic grew, a lot of companies were caught off guard by rising energy bills. And with data center traffic projected to increase about 30 percent each year over the next few years — in conjunction with rising electricity prices — this situation will only become more critical.

It’s a difficult problem for data center managers to solve because it’s hard to see where electricity is needed (or not needed) at any given time. But an intelligent power distribution unit, unlike basic PDUs, can be designed with metering at:

  • the inlet, providing power data for individual pieces of IT equipment; and
  • the outlet, to enable monitoring of individual devices — even if they have multiple power supplies.

Intelligent PDUs can also be used with environment sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, air flow, and air pressure. This allows you to optimize the cooling requirements of your data center environment while controlling operational costs, improving your power usage effectiveness (PUE).

2. Your data center grew too fast to avoid blown fuses and downtime. If your data center expanded to keep up with the growing functions of your network and increased demand, it’s possible that growth took place in an unplanned way. Technicians may have simply plugged in new equipment without concern for available electrical capacity. This could result in blown fuses and costly downtime. Intelligent power distribution units can be designed with metering at the PDU branch circuit level to provide a warning if a circuit is heavily loaded. They can also monitor circuit breakers so you know when and where a trip occurs — allowing you to reset the breaker quickly.

3. Regulations requiring infrastructure security are getting stricter. In light of high-profile data breaches that resulted in the loss of information affecting millions of people, you may be facing stricter regulatory requirements to secure access to cabinets and aisles. Intelligent power distribution units support door locks that restrict access to individual cabinets or entire aisles. The door locks use an ID card reader, and all user activity is logged. Sensors supported by intelligent PDUs can trigger a webcam to take a picture when a door is opened and proximity sensors can detect motion around a cabinet. Additional sensors can be added to detect smoke, water, and vibrations for early alerts to other types of threats to your data center.

Intelligent power distribution units have the ability to help you overcome challenges related to energy consumption, demands on electrical capacity, and access control — and to contain the costs, decreased productivity, and security concerns that go with them. It may be time for you to make the intelligent choice.

For information on how intelligent power distribution units can solve additional data center challenges, as well as for information on choosing the right PDU to meet your business’s needs, read the white paper Basic vs. Intelligent PDUs: Understanding the Differences.