In today’s digital world, data centers are crucial to the success of individual businesses and the global economy, which includes more than 8,000 data centers around the world housing upwards of 80 million servers.
Data centers are charged with the critical responsibility of being on, accessible, and responsive 24/7/365, and the consequences of them going down are enormous. Downtime is also financially painful for data center operators. According to the Uptime Institute, more than two-thirds of all outages cost more than $100,000. The objective for data center operators—to maximize uptime/minimize downtime—is simple, but achieving it is another matter.
Data centers face several challenges in their high-stakes mission to maintain uptime. First, artificial intelligence and other technological advancements like machine learning are creating increased demand for high-density deployments, which place ever-higher demands on existing power chains. Second, as data gravity continues to shift outside of core data centers to the edge, hosting equipment is also being leveraged in multiple non-typical data center locations like warehouses. No matter the location, all sites introduce a challenging concern: power quality issues like harmonic distortion and voltage dips and swells. At the same time, the shift to the edge to reduce latency means more flexible remote management and monitoring capabilities of devices are necessary. This is all coupled with rising staff and servicing costs driving higher operating expenses for data centers.
What’s the solution? Power redundancy, reliability, and monitoring are important, but they are only as good as the last mile of critical infrastructure, where power quality also poses a significant challenge. This is where intelligent rack infrastructure that supports enhanced power quality monitoring at scale and across locations comes in. Next-generation rack power distribution units (PDUs) that support higher densities with embedded continuous power quality monitoring and predictive analysis capabilities help meet future-focused uptime and sustainability goals. Furthermore, in the case of an unplanned outage, these PDUs can help data centers identify the device that caused a fault so service can be restored quickly. Lastly, they allow data center operators to measure rack-based power consumption at peak times, which can also lower costs. With legislation being introduced to support energy usage and sustainability, intelligent last-mile PDU technology will ensure operators have the tools available to optimize rack power quality and usage.
Image 1: Server Technology PRO4X Rack PDU
Legrand’s next-generation Raritan PX4 and Server Technology PRO4X Intelligent Rack PDUs offer significant advancements in rack-based power quality monitoring and metrics needed for rack power optimization to ensure uptime. The power quality metrics they cover include total rack energy consumption, individual server energy consumption, harmonic distortion, crest factor and distortion power factor, among others. These intelligent rack PDUs are designed to identify power quality problems that create data loss, power supply failures, loss in power efficiencies and other problems within mission-critical facilities and data centers. They also feature enhanced tools to reduce troubleshooting time, like enhanced breaker trip forensics, which identify which device tripped the branch breaker, saving a ton of time in diagnosing and troubleshooting these types of problems.
Image 2: Example of Circuit Breaker Trip Forensics with Waveform Capture
Next-generation PDUs take advantage of improved measurement and monitoring architecture. Older generation PDUs used 8- and 16-bit microcontroller technology to provide metering accuracy to customers. Next-generation PRO4X and PX4 PDUs are based on ARM Cortex M4 microcontrollers in combination with 24-bit ADC (analog to digital converter) chips, providing powerful and scalable energy-metering circuitry. The increased volume and accuracy of available data support precise calculation of electrical energy delivered to the device to understand annual IT operations costs better, provide more detailed costs for customers using IT equipment hosting services, and more.
Legrand’s new intelligent rack PDUs also leverage demand-side power quality metrics to optimize power consumption. It is imperative to measure unbalanced current within a three-phase power distribution system to achieve efficient power distribution and preserve the longevity of upstream infrastructure. These next-generation PDUs can aid in balancing three-phase loads and identifying faulty server power supplies. With their ability to measure current total harmonic distortion, they are an alternative to expensive rack-based power quality monitoring products.
Image 3: Power quality monitoring web UI shows unbalanced current, among other values.
Data center reliability, efficiency, intelligence and automation, and remote management are critical to maintaining uptime and reducing revenue loss. Legrand’s Raritan PX4 and Server Technology PRO4X Intelligent Rack PDUs ensure the last mile of the data center power distribution is covered.