Network Infrastructure 101: The Power Distribution Unit (PDU) / by DataStrait Networks

Your boss recently came into your office with a big announcement: they want you to implement an entirely modern network infrastructure. At this point, the details are sparse, but you know a few goals are a top priority, including enhanced automation and security as well as an ability to scale into the future. While your IT knowledge is extensive, you know that your organization could use a little help with picking the right equipment for this project, especially when it comes to power distribution. This guide is here to remove the shroud from the world of modern power distribution units (PDUs) so that you can choose just the right solution.

A Few PDU Basics

Modern racks and cabinets are designed to maximize the amount of computing bandwidth you can fit within any given space, and the ability to power all the routers, servers, switches, and other devices being used depends on one or more reliable power distribution units (PDU). In its most basic form, a PDU takes the primary power source going to a rack and distributes it among many different outlets. The purest form of PDUs, often found in homes and small offices, are small strips that can be moved from location to location. More complex PDUs, such as PDUs developed by Tripp Lite, are usually mounted to racks and have more high-tech features.

Tripp Lite Metered PDU

PDU Form Factor and Orientation

Apart from the commonly found movable PDUs, there are rack mount and cabinet form factors. Rack mounted Tripp Lite PDUs vary in size and can be attached to the floor of the rack itself. They can be simple or include a wide range of high-tech features, including remote monitoring and support for environmental sensors. Cabinet mounted PDUs are often used in large data centers, providing multiple high currents which sometimes come from different UPSs. Standalone cabinet PDUs are self-contained and include individual circuit breakers, main breakers, and power monitoring panels. Horizontal PDUs are designed for standard equipment racks and are installed above, below, or in between equipment. Vertical Tripp Lite units usually have more outlets and are mounted on the upright rails of an enclosure.

Your Power Demands

Determining how much power your new IT infrastructure will require is key to picking the right PDU. You'll also need to know where you'll be getting single or 3 phase power.

Single Phase Power

Single phase is usually found in residential homes and small businesses and may be adequate for relatively small networks. 

3 Phase Power

3-phase power sources are more common in larger enterprises that have high-power data centers. While converting to 3 phase may be expensive, the long-term efficiency and safer operation may be worth it for your business. DataStrait professionals can help you calculate your total voltage requirements to ensure you have the power required at your location.

Specific Types of PDUs

Metered pdu

This type of PDU can locally monitor load level and delivery power from both single and three-phase UPS power supplies.

Monitored pdu

Going a step further than the metered unit, a monitored PDU can access load level, voltage, and frequency remotely through a built-in network connection.

Switched pdu

A switched PDU give you the ability to remotely monitor, connect or disconnect power loads going to your racks, giving you the power to power on and off specific pieces of equipment. Unused outlets can even be locked.

Automatic Transfer Switch pdu

This unit provides redundant power to equipment that doesn't have built-in redundant power supplies, effectively eliminating downtime. A Tripp Lite ATS has dual AC inputs that can be connected to any combination of utility, generator, or UPS sources.

Hot-Swap pdu

Avoid taking your network offline while replacing a UPS by using a hot-swap PDU. It contains dual power inputs that can be controlled through a manual switch.

Dual Circuit pdu

These deliver dual sources of power to equipment with redundant power supplies through a single delivery mechanism. The dual circuit PDU solution can save you a lot of space and make the management of your racks a lot more straightforward.

As a busy network engineer, your plate was already full taking on the job of designing and constructing your company's new network. Acquiring PDUs and other equipment is likely to make your workload unbearable, but help is available. Experts from DataStrait Networks can deliver the exact products you need to make your network run smoothly and reliably while you focus on your area of expertise. Contact us today to find out which Tripp Lite PDU products are right for your upcoming networking upgrade.