Managing the equipment on a data center floor is a bit more complicated than plugging a home computer into a wall outlet. When a company decides to colocate their IT assets in a data center, their equipment will make up only a small percentage of the facility’s infrastructure. Every piece of hardware within that environment has its own power demands, leaving data centers with the challenging task of distributing and managing power efficiently to keep everything running safely and efficiently.
A data center’s power usage effectiveness (PUE) measures how much energy is used by its computing equipment. The value is expressed as a ratio, indicating how much of the total power delivered to the facility is actually used by the computing equipment. Inefficient power distribution is usually one of the main culprits when a data center has a poor PUE score.
Power distribution units (PDUs) are integral to solving this problem. Fitted with multiple outlets to accommodate many different types of equipment, these devices distribute electrical power throughout the data center. Available in many shapes and forms, PDUs are an essential part of a data center’s physical infrastructure. They can be mounted horizontally or vertically to provide power to an entire rack of servers and other equipment. Depending upon the cabinet design, they might even be located inside or be integrated into the cabinet itself.
Determining the appropriate power distribution needs for an IT deployment is important because PDUs have a longer life cycle than servers and other equipment. The typical refresh cycle for servers is about 3-5 years, but PDUs last for much longer. When looking at a data center’s power infrastructure, then, it’s vital to know whether or not those PDUs will be able to accommodate both today’s colocation equipment, and tomorrow’s as well.
Versatility is a good quality to look for in data center power distribution setups. Different types of computing equipment utilize different sizes and styles of plugs (c13, c14, c19, c20, etc). A good data center should be equipped with versatile PDUs that feature multiple outlets to accommodate different hardware deployments as their customers’ IT needs change in the future.
Regardless of their design and features, the most important aspect of a PDU is its power ratings. The device’s primary purpose is to supply power to computing equipment, so it’s important to know whether or not a data center’s architecture has the capacity to handle any colocated assets a company might throw at them.
There are three key indicators of a PDU’s power capabilities:
PDUs come in a variety of styles, so potential colocation customers should be aware of what kind of units a data center utilizes. Here are the most common types of PDUs in use today:
When selecting a colocation provider, companies should carefully review the needs of their IT infrastructure. Evaluating a data center’s power distribution is an important step in this process because poor power usage effectiveness can easily result in higher costs and damaging downtime.
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