Data Centre PDU Innovation of the Year
The interconnected world is placing new demands on power management in data centres, and with rack densities rising globally, equipment monitoring at the rack level has never been so critical. Chatsworth Products’ (CPI) eConnect® Power Distribution Units (PDUs) provide data centre managers with all the information they need to make informed decisions when it comes to capacity planning, rapid deployment, reduced networking costs and regulatory compliance.
CPI, a pioneer of power and infrastructure solutions for the information and communications technology (ICT) and industrial automation segments, has recognised this increase in demand and has evolved its popular eConnect line of intelligent PDUs to provide improved, data-driven rack-level monitoring in data centres and remote sites. These enhanced features add more simplicity and efficiency to power distribution, while setting customers up for success as new compliance requirements go into effect in the new decade.
Adhering to growing safety standards and compliance requirements such as UL® 62368, a new 2020 requirement for Europe and the United States, CPI’s next generation of eConnect PDUs include greater outlet density, as well as an industry-first Redundancy Pack, which includes two PDUs, one in black and one in Glacier White, for easy identification of the primary and secondary unit.
“As the enterprise data centre space gravitates toward multitenant and edge compute locations, our customers demand solutions that can allow their sites to be up and running quickly and reliably,” explains Ashish Moondra, CPI Sr. Product Manager, Power, Electronics and Software. “To that end, CPI has focused on capabilities that provide high availability while reducing the complexity of installing, networking, servicing and managing the power distribution solutions,” Moondra adds.
eConnect’s market-leading features—Secure Array® IP Consolidation Technology, 65° C (149° F) temperature rating, and software integration with environmental monitoring and RFID Electronic Lock Kits—are now complemented by the following advantages:
• Redundancy Pack option for easy identification of the primary and secondary (failover) unit. Distinguishing the A/B power feed within the cabinet is one challenge data centre operators face. The standard practice to overcome this is to deploy two PDUs and colour-code each, with the industry-wide standard rack PDU colour being black, and a further upcharge for an alternative colour for easy identification. CPI addresses this issue with a Redundancy Pack, which provides two matched rack PDUs one painted black and the other painted Glacier White to visually identify the A/B power feed within the cabinet. Both PDUs are kitted together, so there is no additional upcharge for the alternate white unit.
• Latest UL 62368 compliance. CPI’s eConnect PDUs are third-party tested to ensure electrical safety in powered electronic products. This new safety standard is a required standard for Europe and bears the CE marking to indicate conformity with health, safety and environmental protection standards.
• Secure Array IP consolidation of up to 48 units under one IP address, with the option for a second one for failover support; reducing networking costs by 90%. Although IP consolidation is not unique to CPI PDUs, Secure Array IP consolidation allows up to 48 PDUs to share a single network connection as well as dedicated IP addresses. This can also simultaneously support networked electronic locks and environmental sensors without the need for any additional network connections, making this the most robust system available on the market. With Secure Array IP consolidation, expenses are significantly reduced for data centre operators when deploying intelligent rack PDUs, where, in some instances, a new network connection for every PDU is not possible.
• Phase-balance outlets on three-phase models that simplifies equal loading across all phases. The challenge for data centre operators when delivering three-phase power to the rack level is to ensure each sequential outlet is powered through a different phase/breaker so that load is evenly distributed, which is achieved using phase-balance outlets. Without it, groups of outlets are associated with each phase/breaker, therefore creating an imbalance of loads. Phase-balance is not unique to CPI rack PDUs, but it is part of a complete, combined feature set that is unique.
• Integrated environmental sensors that provide notifications of hot spots within cabinets. Data centre operators face the pressures of ensuring that environmental conditions, in particular the temperature and humidity at each cabinet, remain within a certain input range and do not exceed a certain delta at output. This can be achieved with a separately derived environmental monitoring system made up of additional hardware, network connections and IP addresses for each cabinet, however with added cost and efforts. CPI integrated sensors can be included on the rack PDU, meaning each eConnect PDU allows attachment of environmental sensors and will collect, store and share that data in the same way that it will collect and share the power measurements. By monitoring data at the inlet and outlet of the rack, this allows operators to ensure they are maintaining the correct operating range for equipment and to quickly identify when equipment is outside of that range. That means less hardware and less networking overheads to monitor large networks.
• Integrated RFID electronic locks that provide managed cabinet-level access control. Now more than ever, there is a growing interest in physical protection of data, right down to the cabinet level. The challenge data centre operators have is to ensure complete physical security within their facility, with many options requiring additional hardware and software installations. CPI’s award-winning electronic locking system provides the benefits of easy management of user rights and a digital record of access attempts; something which is a universal requirement. Unique to CPI’s eConnect PDU, there is no requirement for additional hardware or software for each cabinet, as each PDU can support a pair of electronic door locks. The PDU powers and controls the locks, which are accessed through the PDUs network connection and firmware; also compatible with Secure Array. Additionally, CPI’s electronic locks have field replaceable card readers, allowing the card technology to be updated without the need for replacing the entire lock system. This allows for both an upgrade path from single factor to dual factor with biometric access as well to adapt quickly and cost effectively when access card technology changes.
• Field-replaceable controller for easy serviceability and upgradeability while maintaining power to critical loads. One major concern for data centre operators when deploying intelligent rack PDUs is that the controller will fail and the they would need to power down the equipment to replace the PDU. The controller is the component of an intelligent rack PDU that provides the collection, storing and transmission on measured data. Although rare, if the controller does fail this also effects the remote monitoring and control functionality of the PDU. A field replaceable controller ensures confidence that if the controller fails in a deployed array, it can be replaced to restore monitoring without the need to replace the entire PDU and interrupt power to the equipment. In the case of CPI’s eConnect field replaceable controller, each one has an SD memory card port that can be used to transfer the identity and settings for even quicker changeover.
• Bistable latching relays for reduced energy consumption and increased service reliability on Switched PDU models. Switched PDUs provide data centre operators with the ability to remotely control each outlet on the PDU. This allows remote reboot of hung equipment and unused outlets can be placed in the off condition to ensure a formal review before additional equipment is deployed. Switched PDUs can also designate a power-on sequence and timing so that if power to the rack goes down, then power returns, it will power outlets in a specific timed sequence. The bistable latching relay is one of three techniques used for controlling the condition of the outlet in a rack PDU, and is arguably the best. The bistable latching relay only uses power when it changes the condition of the outlet on or off and it will retain the condition of the outlet after power loss on reboot. This ensures the intent for the condition of that outlet is maintained. The alternative methods require constant power to the relay to maintain the state of the outlet and do not maintain the condition of the outlet during a reset. Bistable relays are not unique to CPI rack PDUs, but are an important part of a complete, combined feature set that is unique.
• Patent-pending locking outlets, which prevent accidental disconnections without requiring special cords that can cost upwards of £150 (€180) per PDU. Most equipment power cords no not include a locking plug. Therefore, data centre operators have a natural concern that power cords may become loose or unattached from the rack PDU. Locking outlets on the PDU ensure that the equipment power cord remains attached to the PDU, preventing disconnection from the weight of the cord, slight movements of equipment or accidental bumps by technicians. There are several locking cord systems on the market that require a special power cord to be purchased in addition to the rack PDU to provide the locking function, adding overall cost to each rack install. CPI’s eConnect locking outlet accepts a standard, straight or angled IEC connector, so the cord included in the equipment, or a standard, low-cost jumper for all power connections can be used.
• Native software integration from CPI partners Sunbird® Software, ZPE Systems and RF Code—Power IQ® for eConnect, Nodegrid Manager™ and Centerscape. Intelligent rack PDUs are typically monitored through a third-party monitoring software, like a DCIM software. The challenge for data centre operators is integrating the PDU with the software. Monitoring software collects data from intelligent rack PDUs in the form of SNMP traps. The trap is a data file with the readout from the PDU. However, the readouts vary by manufacturer, and in some instances, by model or product SKU. Operators must take the extra step of programming the third-party software to read the SNMP trap. Native software integration is the effort by the PDU manufacturer to work with the software provider to eliminate or simplify this step. So that the device is either automatically recognised and or there is a “wizard” that makes the programming faster and easier. CPI seeks partnerships to not only integrate its PDU and control of its functions from the management software, but also so that the software will recognise CPI Secure Array and distinguish the arrayed devices from the software interface. The value-added benefit is that in many instances, the software assumes an individual IP address for each device to be monitored. CPI’s integration efforts with various software partners provides the physical network overhead savings of Secure Array and quick or automated setup of CPI PDUs within the monitoring software.
• Support for RESTful Application Programming Interface API and Command Line Interface CLI. Some organisations prefer to monitor PDUs through their own software, through a specialised interface or alternately to directly monitor off network with command line interface. All the data that can be delivered through the SNMP interface described above can also be delivered through API or CLI. This allows customers to access all features of the CPI intelligent rack PDU through their own custom monitoring application or through command line interaction.
• Pre-integration into cabinets. CPI has the unique ability to not just provide separate components to create a complete data centre ecosystem including PDU’s, but to install the cabinet, accessories and PDUs into a single solution ready to deploy, ensuring rapid installation for data centre operators.
CPI’s extended expertise in data centre power management solutions spans over two decades, and the addition of eConnect as a complete solution for intelligent power distribution since 2012 highlights CPI’s core mission of protecting and powering our customers’ technology investments from the data centre to the edge. CPI’s eConnect power portfolio includes 350+ standard configurations, shipped separately or pre installed within CPI cabinets from dedicated manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom and the United States.