Now, more than ever, there is a growing demand for the establishment of effective and efficient data centers. An important factor determining the efficiency of a data center is its power distribution units and how the servers and devices are powered in a data center.


Power distribution units are power strips that transmit and control power in a data center. While this may sound simplistic, the functionalities of the data center rack power distribution unit have evolved over the years. Not only do they transmit electricity, but they also provide data on resource usage for use in a data center. This information can be used to understand how power is being used efficiently in the data center.

What is the data center rack power distribution unit?

The Power Distribution Unit (PDU) or Mains Distribution Unit (MDU) is a system with several outputs designed to distribute electrical power, in particular to computer rack and network equipment installed within a data center. Data centers face challenges in the field of power protection and management strategies. That's why many data centers rely on PDU monitoring to improve efficiency, uptime, and growth.

PDUs range from basic and inexpensive rack-mounted power strips to larger floor-mounted PDUs with several features like power filtering to improve power efficiency, intelligent load balancing, and remote LAN or SNMP monitoring and control. This type of PDU placement offers intelligent features such as inlet, outlet, and PDU power metering and support for environmental sensors.

The newer generation of intelligent PDUs allows for IP consolidation, which ensures that multiple PDUs can be connected in an array under a single IP address. Next-generation versions also provide connectivity with electronic locks, including the ability to network and manage PDUs and locks with the same appliance.

The progressive demand for data centers

The data center is central to the activities of the organization. It is a repository for most enterprise-critical applications where most company data is stored, processed, and disseminated to consumers. Most data centers use battery-based emergency power supplies that can cover for short-term power outages and bigger generators that can supply power in the case of longer commercial power outages. As 5G-fueled hyperconnectivity expands business networks and moves data production to the edge, technology leaders and engineers need to re-imagine the data center to remain in the race. Data center rack intelligence is utterly critical to business success.

Importance of data center racks

When it comes to moving equipment to a placement facility, it's important to consider how much room would be required to accommodate all of the infrastructures. It would be a fairly simple process, but it may be more difficult if the existing server equipment is not well organized or deployed. For many on-site applications, the IT infrastructure may be very disorganized and poorly documented. This is why auditing equipment is one of the most important steps in the migration planning process.

Assessing data center rack needs requires more than simply making sure there is enough room for server equipment to be installed. Power distribution is also critical because some servers can need a lot more power than others. Just because the cabinet has 42U of space doesn't necessarily mean that it can accommodate a lot of equipment. Cabinet capacity is limited by power delivery cables, so running so many servers in a cabinet could end up blowing a fuse.

The server cabinets today support a significantly higher power density than in the past. Although the typical cabinet used only about 3-5kW of electricity, the newer cabinets support more than 10kW on average. In a hyperscale facility with a more robust power system, it is not uncommon to see high-density racks capable of serving workloads of about 30-40 kW. If a facility supports high-density deployments, it might make sense to invest in newer blade-style servers to reduce the amount of space needed to provide the same level of computing power.

Why is there a need for a data center rack power distribution unit?

The most critical feature of modern PDUs is their ability to control and manage energy consumption in a data center. Armed with information such as power use from the power strip outlet, you can make informed choices that can help you maximize the power output of your data center. By finding areas in your data center that require easy rearrangement of devices for more effective power usage, you can be prepared for better capacity planning.

By monitoring device-level power usage, you can determine where much of your power is consumed, and analyze if the unit is highly significant to be used given its high power consumption. With companies around the world focusing on being more eco-friendly and governments introducing laws to reduce environmental impact, your organization's data center needs to consume as little power as possible to remain competitive.

Trends that mark the adoption rate of data center rack PDUs

The growing inclination among collocation service providers

The increasing demand for scalable data centers, the reduction of overall IT expenditure, and the increasing complexity of data centers are increasing the demand for data placement services. The collocation services of the data center ensure that the daily data demand is managed scalable and cost-effectively. This acts as one of the main drivers of the market for data center collocation.

Data center collocation end-users include small and medium-sized enterprises and large enterprises, which are expected to have the largest market share in the forecast period. Large-sized enterprises are inclined to offer collocation services because they can lease large areas and meet their power and computing requirements. Collocation services help large organizations to better manage the infrastructure of the data center. These services also support business continuity as a result of their disaster recovery benefits.

The increasing procurement of metered PDUs

Requirements for data centers are increasing, while space and budgets are declining. Since data center workers are obligated to be more efficient, they turn to PDUs. A metered PDU offers the possibility to conserve resources at a granular level – money, staff hours, and space, thus enabling employees to focus on more strategic tasks. The cost of regulating the temperature of a data center can be absorbed by the operating budget. Modern hot-air containment solutions help to minimize costs, but lower operating temperatures for legacy rackmount PDUs mean that they can only help a lot.

Newer meter rack PDUs have a higher operating temperature – up to 140°/60°C – which means a significant reduction in the cooling costs of the facility. The downtime caused by the plug being knocked out of place is an incident that occurs too frequently in data centers. Most rack PDUs rely on external plugs or cable trays to secure plugs. While these prevention methods are effective, they require additional time from staff and represent additional costs. Next-generation metered rack PDUs provide built-in IEC outlet grips that have the same protection without the need for proprietary power cords or cumbersome additions.

To sum up

The Power Distribution Unit (PDU) is a system that provides a power supply to the servers. Theoretically, this device looks simple and does no better than the alternating current distribution board conventionally referred to as ACDB. To a large extent, this can be a correct interpretation. But, as we start looking at the finer details of this language, we may understand that it is not at all a very easy subject. In particular with the application perspective, it is a very important facility in the data center. Apart from providing continuous loading power, this equipment can add a great deal of value to the entire system.

Free Valuable Insights: Global Data Center Rack Power Distribution Unit (PDU) Market to reach a market size of USD 2.4 billion by 2026

The world around us is evolving every day, and these developments are forcing all of us to discover new ways to adapt and transition towards a future powered by technology. To businesses, this involves partnering with organizations delivering the newest technology-backed tools to help them solve the challenges they face in today's ever-changing world. For data centers empowering these companies, this means embracing new technologies and improving the design concept to help them mitigate the concerns of their customers while at the same time improving the services they provide to them.

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