Data Centers

Reduce Downtime Risk with the Right Data Center PDUs

Keith Kramer
While nearly all data centers have PDUs in place, there are risks associated with using the wrong PDU—or using old or outdated PDUs—as data center power demands soar. Learn more in our recent blog.


As data centers prepare to take on emerging trends like artificial intelligence, machine learning and IoT, their power demands are also set to soar. These up-and-coming applications will require higher levels of processing power from data centers.


According to McKinsey, for example, U.S. data center power consumption is anticipated to reach 35GW by 2030, up from 17GW last year. Global asset and wealth manager Schroders estimates that energy use for AI deployment alone could increase from approximately 1GW in 2023 to 7GW by 2026.


Meanwhile, energy costs are also on the rise. The 2023 Global Data Center Market Comparison by Cushman & Wakefield reports that the industry is experiencing a median 16% growth in electricity costs for industrial and commercial purposes.


Finding efficient ways to monitor and manage data center power usage has never been more critical to the bottom line as mission-critical applications call for more power.


Do you have the right PDUs in place?

Rack-mounted power distribution units (PDUs) can be one of the keys to preparing for increased power demands. They’re used to distribute, monitor and control the power used by equipment and devices in the data center. They provide controlled and stable power supply while telling you what you can’t readily see about power consumption.


While nearly all data centers have some type of PDUs in place, there are risks associated with using the wrong type of PDU—or using old or outdated PDUs. This can lead to unplanned power outages, increased energy costs and more downtime. And everyone knows that data center downtime equals lost revenue: The 2023 Annual Outage Analysis from Uptime Institute reveals that more than two-thirds of outages cost more than $100,000.


4 types of data center PDUs


Basic PDUs

These devices are barebones, as their name implies: They act as a version of a very reliable power strip that distributes power to critical data center equipment, offering choices in terms of power type/amount, outlet type, etc. They don’t provide any level of intelligence or insight into power usage, they don’t collect data about the equipment they connect to and they can’t be monitored or controlled over a network.


Metered PDUs

Think of metered PDUs as a step up from basic devices. They too distribute power to equipment, but they also feature a local display that provides information about local power consumption and load level (current, voltage, power usage per phase, etc.). The information displayed on the device is contained within the PDU—it isn’t shared on a network or transmitted elsewhere for further analysis.


Monitored PDUs

Monitored PDUs build on the functionality of metered PDUs by adding the capability to monitor the device over the network, which is vital to optimize power distribution and consumption.


Data center managers can remotely access data about power consumption in real-time. This added functionality offers many benefits. For example, notifications can be sent when a threshold is exceeded so operators can quickly identify and respond to issues. It can also help colocation data centers improve billing accuracy for customers.


Switched PDUs

These PDUs are the highest-performing units available. They offer the most intelligence along with complete control of the unit on an outlet-by-outlet basis.


Because they are remotely managed, individual receptacles can be turned on and off, reset or scheduled for power cycling from anywhere. If a piece of equipment malfunctions, for example, the individual receptacle connected to that equipment can be rebooted remotely instead of someone having to be onsite to complete the task.


Switched PDUs can also support reporting so operators can identify trends and patterns for better decision-making about things like power usage and distribution, scaling and optimization.


Is it time to go beyond basic?

Selecting the right PDU means finding the balance between your budget and the functionality required to preserve and protect data center power.


If you want to surpass simple power distribution and be able to monitor, respond to and control power usage in your data center, then it’s necessary to go beyond a basic, surface-level overview of electricity consumption. Monitoring what’s happening at the outlet level is the best way to minimize data center risk.



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