From an external physical perspective, an intelligent PDU must combine ease of use with maximised performance. It is becoming apparent that PDUs with an ultra-slim chassis and low profile circuit breakers best enable users to access other components within the rack, reducing crowding and interference. Physical size of the PDU is often overlooked until a critical event highlights the utility of this core attribute. Take, for instance, a hot-swappable fan, power supply, or network card in many blade or large form-factor rack mount equipment; in these cases, a large rack PDU can interfere with the removal of these server components and physically prevent hot-swapping in times of equipment maintenance.
Other external features that data centres should look for in an intelligent PDU include a large, easy-to-view LED display, locking outlets, field rewireable, adjustable tool-less mounting and colour-coded outlets and breakers. These features help data centre technicians to simplify installation, avoid errors during installation and maintenance, and create a cleaner, customised installation fit without hassle.
The colour-coded aspect also reduces downtime, as it allows IT teams and data centre managers to reduce human connectivity errors, and quickly and accurately identify any issues. This improved accuracy is an important factor as studies estimate around 30 percent of downtime is due to human error. If the potential for human error is reduced, so is the risk of avoidable downtime.
The UK Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and European Union Energy-Using Product (EuP) are increasing the pressure on data centres to measurably reduce the energy used and carbon produced by their IT facilities. With China having announced plans to implement a carbon tax in February, it is possible that Southeast Asian nations will be pressured to do the same. Intelligent PDUs can help data centres achieve this goal.
Of course, it is not just a question of installing the technology. It also requires a change of employee mindset. Most people, particularly those with smart electricity meters installed at home, understand the need to switch off lights and electrical equipment when not in use, and are growing accustomed to monitoring and adjusting their daily power usage. Powering a data centre is perhaps not the same as boiling a kettle or putting the washing on, but the same principles apply: understand your power needs and usage and adapt to optimise them. PDUs provide data centres with a unique opportunity to achieve this - don't let that opportunity pass you by.
Mike Jansma is Co-founder of Enlogic.
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