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IoT’s Impact on the Data Center and the Role of Intelligent Power

By Marc Cram, Director of New Market Development, Server Technology

Once dubbed the next Industrial Revolution, the Internet of Things (IoT) has proven to be the movement that will drive the evolution of network, IT, and data center design into the future. To sum up the net impact of all of the new devices situated at the edge of all of the networks, consider this: there will be some 24 billion Internet of Things devices online by the end of 2020, which is actually more than double the 10 billion devices that will be used directly by people. Intelligent PDUs will play a critical role in the management of networks that support that traffic.

In fact, IoT has had a number of impacts on data center infrastructure, as well as data center services. Not only has IoT driven the creation of more robust networks and IT systems, it has also pushed the boundaries of what was previously understood as cloud and edge computing, and the networks that support those systems.

Lean and mean

When we look at the impact of IoT on data center infrastructure, the greatest tangible effect has been on data center networks. Most facilities have had to adapt in order to keep up with IoT—especially 5G IoT. This has meant an increase in the number of connections and in the overall speed of networks in most deployments, even ones that lean heavily on edge computing. Those edge devices still need to push data back to a central hub for more detailed computing and analysis.

Because of this, the majority of data centers are upping their networking and connectivity game. Another key impact IoT brings to data centers is a different type of capacity demand. IoT devices are continually running and delivering data, meaning that many data centers now have a much smaller window than before to take a network offline or make adjustments. Traditional maintenance windows are now closed, and network architectures have to be adapted to support uptime. The impact on data center infrastructure? It needs to be equally flexible.

More secure

An unexpected impact of IoT on data centers has been the need for an increased security presence at the edge. This new security challenge is the unwanted passenger on the train of network safety. It is the result of having more passengers on the new IoT touchpoints and endpoints.

This increase in the number of devices has presented a unique challenge for those in charge of their company’s networks. The proliferation of traffic has meant that companies are investing in new tools to monitor and manage traffic on their networks. While these tools are mostly in the form of software and IT appliances, there has also been an increase in the adoption of network PDUs.

Everything needs power

While they may seem like an unlikely player in new IoT data center infrastructures, intelligent PDUs are serving a key role in securing networks, supporting uptime, monitoring traffic, and managing systems.

Switched PDUs are the gatekeepers of all the power that is fed to the rack. After all, everything needs power, right? Not only is the rack PDU the bridge between the data center’s entire electrical infrastructure and the devices that run the network, it also provides the nearest touchpoint to monitor and manage that power. Talk about up close and personal!

Monitoring the edge

IoT computing demands more sophisticated monitoring solutions at the rack and PDU level. By definition, edge compute sites are not adjacent to the core data center facility. Lack of proximity means that there is an increased reliance on the ability to monitor power and cooling conditions remotely, as well as the ability to remotely control and reboot single outlets. As IoT has pushed monitoring to the distant reaches of the network, intelligent PDUs have likewise been deployed to provide feedback and control.

Monitoring the core

Intelligent PDUs arguably play a more critical role at the core, thanks to IoT. They provide information about equipment operation by metering the input and output power at the PDU. They also provide remote control operations that allow you to turn power on and off to individual receptacles. Having a network connection allows the data center manager to enable or disable outlets from a remote location or within the facility itself. As IoT has required more flexibility and fewer maintenance windows, intelligent PDUs have stepped in to assist with controlling the computing environment.

Monitoring to manage

Increased data traffic and shifting workloads increase the complexity of the data center manager’s power and cooling resources within the facility. By using intelligent PDUs, you can access real-time usage data and environmental alerts. All power usage data is easily tracked, stored, and exported into reports using intelligent PDUs and DCIM software. By analyzing accurate power usage information at the cabinet level, data center managers are now able to more accurately shift power resources within the white space.

In short, an intelligent PDU can be the control your data center infrastructure needs to support IoT applications. This is increasingly important as this infrastructure is being pushed closer to the edge with even less time for maintenance. Higher device demand comes with higher power demands, which means more challenges to the network. PDUs help you meet them and anticipate the next IoT evolution.

Marc Cram is Director of New Market Development for Server Technology, a brand of Legrand (@Legrand). A technology evangelist, he is driven by a passion to deliver a positive power experience for the data center owner/operator. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rice University and has more than 30 years of experience in the field of electronics. Follow him on LinkedIn or @ServerTechInc on Twitter.