White Paper Wisdom: Circuit-saving PDU secrets

The data centre is being drained. Rising energy demands, along with the associated costs, have spurred the entire IT industry to start thinking about so-called green IT. It’s also got them thinking about how to make better use of their existing resources, which is where power distribution units come in.

In a white paper called “Give me a break: Circuit Breakers and Branch Circuit Protection for Data Centers,” Raritan offers a six-page summary of the things IT managers and network administrators need to know before they purchase or deploy power distribution units. Here are the highlights:

Amp up your compliance efforts: Unless you’re scrounging through the bargain bin of used equipment, any product released since 2003 has to have built-in circuit breakers based on Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards. Requirements vary, but 20 Amps is an important threshold. If you are using a PDU that exceeds that limit, there are specific standards and codes you have to meet, which the Raritan white paper explains.

Stay ahead of the current: Working with circuit breakers is like playing a game of Survivor – you want to outthink what could happen so that your equipment will outlast its energy requirements. A circuit breaker’s resiliency depends in part on how severe a short circuit will be, of course, but also the magnitude of its current. To gauge this, you have to understand its ratings, which Raritan defines in order to explain how far circuit breakers can be pushed before they’re useless.

But also stay ahead of the curve: There’s no point in buying a circuit breaker that’s going to be placed in hot area of the data centre if they’re sensitive to temperature. Others work better if they’re mounted on a wall rather than on a flat surface. According to Raritan, making the right choices means studying the four different types of delay curves, which include thermal, thermal-magnetic, magnetic and hydraulic-magnetic. Each has a different “trip profile” in terms of how long it takes the current to move through the system.

Don’t blow a fuse: An appendix to the Raritan white paper explains the pitfalls data centre managers could fall into if they rely on out-of-data products which create additional points of failure in a mission-critical IT environment. Yes, fuses are still around, but who wants to wait for an electrician if they need to be called in? A checklist of seven questions will help guide the PDU purchase process. Get that and more by downloading the Raritan white paper here.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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