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Power Distribution Units or PDUs are used to distribute electric power. Rack-based PDUs are used to take high voltage and current and to reduce it to more common and useful levels, for example from 240V 30 A single phase to multiple 120V 15A or 120V 20A plugs.
Eliminating power management issues is essential for IT and Facilities managers to maintain system availability as they deploy higher density equipment. Power Distribution Units are an essential element in managing power capacity and functionality. Premium power distribution units include power real-time monitoring and individual outlet power state control down for remote power recycling to the unit or individual plug level.
There are two types of PDUs: Heavy Floor Mounted PDU devices which take main feeds and distribute into a handful of smaller feeds. Facilities professionals will refer to these as PDUs as well, but these are only floor mounted. The second type of PDU is the rack-based PDU. Sometime called Smart-PDU, PDU, or Power Strip by IT professionals.
Rack-based PDU refers to what amounts to a well-constructed power strip suitable for data center use. Two basic varieties distinguished by the type of input power are common: single-phase and three-phase. The output power (i.e. the power to the load device) is almost always single-phase, however. In the case of a three-phase PDU, each of the three phases appears individually on one-third of the included receptacles. Rack-PDUs can be dumb—meaning that they have no instrumentation and are not manageable, or they can be metered—meaning that they are equipped with a display that shows current load on each phase, or they can be switched and metered meaning that some or all of their receptacles can be individually switched on or off remotely and the meter usage as well.
Some PDUs provide a means of remote access. Common methods are a RS-232 serial connection or a LAN network controller that can be accessed though Telnet, SSH, SNMP or a web page. This allows an administrator to access the PDU from a remote terminal and interface with it to turn on or off outlets, schedule power shutdowns, control load, etc. This can be helpful if a remote machine has gone into an unresponsive state and cannot be restarted though normal means. An administrator can connect to the PDU the machine is plugged into to power cycle the machine.
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