3 PDUs that are smarter about power consumption

Eaton, APC by Schneider, and Racktivity are all pushing units that offer better granularity about energy usage -- down to the outlet and device level.

I've noticed a trend when it comes to next generation models of power distribution units (PDUs): more of them are focused on device-level power monitoring. That's a great thing, if your IT organization is looking for ways to get more granular about the energy usage.

So what's out there? In the past couple of months, here are three of the products that have hit the market. I'm betting I'll hear about more as soon as I publish this, but these are notable because of the companies behind them: two are major forces in power conditioning and distribution equipment (Eaton and APC by Schneider Electric), and one is an upstart that is completely focused on improving data center energy management (Racktivity).

Here's what I am talking about:

  1. New APC rack PDU features metering by outlet: The latest offering from well-known data center power player APC is a rack power distribution unit that actually lets IT professionals watch power trends at the component level, which can help with capacity planning. Not only is this helpful when consider expansion and consolidation, but the technology also includes remote outlet controls so that equipment can be rebooted or powered down according to certain load parameters.
  2. Eaton ePDU brings eliminates inefficient conversions: Eaton has added a 480-volt configuration to its ePDU power distribution line. The technology is targeted at data centers that use 480/277 volt custom hardware and the net effect is that it helps eliminate some of the power conversions that would normally be required to get electricity to servers. Notes Eaton product manager Joe Skorjanec: "Power distribution units at this voltage are usually only available as custom solutions."
  3. Racktivity PRDU offers real-time metrics: The EnergySwitch ES1008 PDU offers per-port energy monitoring on a real time basis. The company behind this technology is completely focused on data center energy efficiency: the PDU integrates with the Racktivity Energy Sensor series of environmental monitors, which keep tabs on data center temperature, humidity, motion, light, sound, leaks, smoke, air pressure and air-flow. Says Racktivity President and CEO Marco DeMiroz: "The ES1008 provides the most comprehensive set of performance analytics for every port along with per-port switching. Our ES1008 actually sees voltage spikes, ripple and sag, along with harmonics produced by attached IT devices before they actually fail."

I'm not suggesting that you go out and ditch the PDU infrastructure you have in place today, but as you consolidate servers across your data center and IT infrastructure, it is definitely worth asking how the PDU your team is considering will contribute to intelligence about energy efficiency and energy consumption trends.