This article will help your organization in PDU Selection – During the build-out your company’s data center, you will eventually land on the question of which PDU (Power Distribution Unit) to run with. There are some very interesting and innovative PDU options on the market, but do they make sense for what you are trying to achieve? Before you decide whether to go with a “Smart” PDU or a basic solution, there are a few questions that need to be addressed. Choosing the right PDU will go a long way to influence how flexible, scalable, and ultimately reliable your data center will be over time.

It’s important to know certain specs before getting started regarding your data center’s power-strip selection. Do you want a vertical or horizontal rack PDU? How about the approximate amperage and voltage requirements for your data center? Based on your region, what are the plug types and cord lengths required? Finally, how important is scalability and real-time transparency into your power utilization?

Once you have a solid understanding of where your IT team stands concerning these questions, as well as where you are heading in terms of growth, then you can move on to selecting the right PDU for your data center.

Start with the Basics

While the “Smart” PDU options may sound like the smartest way to go, sometimes a basic solution is a much better fit. If your organization is on the smaller side, a basic PDU may really be all you need, and in the long-run will save you money and potential confusion. The basic solution is exactly what you would expect, nothing too fancy, just a power strip with a pre-selected number of power outlets. A lot of manufacturers will offer options like surge protection, color-coded receptacles, and even “basic-upgradeable” power strips that are designed for growth.

The cons of a basic solution are an absence of a graphical UI and internet connection, but for a smaller company with an IT team in close proximity to the data center, a basic solution is all you need.

The “Smart PDUs”

Metered PDU

The first of our three smart PDU options is the “Metered PDU”. Unlike the basic solution, the metered PDU tracks your company’s power consumption through a local GUI that shows key metrics like current, amperage, power factor and more. Certain metered PDUs come equipped with a light communication-enabled GUI. This allows access to your authorized staff to scan non-readable code on a digital display using a mobile device camera. This light communication-enabled GUI transfers the power consumption metrics to the device where they can be exported and utilized for capacity analysis and electrical load balancing.


Monitored PDU

Taking intelligent metrics a step further is the “Monitored PDU” option. Here, you have a PDU wired directly into the data center or server room’s network,  remotely transmitting real-time consumption metrics down to the outlet. These consumption metrics are transmitted to a secure web interface so your IT staff can monitor power utilization regardless of their location. There are several benefits with the monitored PDU option, including automatic alerts when the safe threshold is exceeded, increased precision in usage tracking, more precise load balancing, and additional ports for environmental monitoring.

Switched PDU

For large-scale or geographically data remote data centers, there’s no better option than a “Switched PDU”. By far the most innovative among the choices of smart PDUs out there, the switched PDU has everything that the monitored PDU has with one big difference: it can be controlled remotely.

A switched PDU solution enables your data center personnel to shut down individual power outlets from a web interface. Using this functionality, they can power-cycle equipment for troubleshooting or to power down equipment during non-peak hours. The switched PDU is especially useful for cloud providers that need to activate and deactivate equipment in a major facility or even an entire network of facilities.