The CTMT staff researched new alternatives from seemingly every major PDU manufacturer.

Increasing power densities combined with enhanced product functionality have created strong demand for cabinet power distribution units (PDUs) within today’s data centers. IT and facilities personnel now know that the type and amount of power delivered to the cabinet can greatly affect their costs, cooling efficiency, redundancy, and future expansion plans within their facilities. Additionally, this surge in demand is being fueled by newer PDU features such as secure remote access and re-boot, environmental monitoring, SNMP traps, email alerts, current and power information, and others. Progressive organizations like Colliers Turley Martin Tucker (CTMT) who are committed to customer service, product quality, and uptime implement switched PDUs to help better service and support their data center customers.

Colliers Turley Martin Tucker (CTMT) is a full-service commercial real-estate firm committed to expansion and market leadership by offering superior and differentiated client value. Their beliefs are based on four cornerstones of commitment; client solutions, committed employees, civic involvement, and constant growth. These beliefs are demonstrated on a daily basis with a guarantee of success for their clients, associates, communities, and the firm.

CTMT’s Critical Facilities team, directed by John Scheer, currently manages prominent data centers in St. Louis, MO; Tempe, AZ; Orlando, FL; Cincinnati, OH; Toronto, ON; and the UK. Critical factors when specifying IT equipment for these facilities includes reliability and functionality, with strong customer support and service. This commitment to client value has led CTMT to search out vendors capable of delivering high-quality products that provide unique technical advantages and solutions.

CTMT took over the management of the St. Louis, MO, and Tempe, AZ, data centers after the data centers were already populated with racks and power distribution units. The existing PDUs on the original build out were the product of another popular manufacturer. Since CTMT desired to keep things uniform, the same PDUs were also used for all new installations.

The CTMT staff thoroughly tests each PDU prior to installation in their data centers. Each site is equipped with a custom-built test station and has written and approved testing and configuration procedures for each type of PDU in use. However, this practice was not in place during the initial build-out of these data centers. Because of its internal installation testing, CTMT began to notice a high rate of failure in the PDUs that they were receiving. Additionally, after only a couple years of service in the data center environment, PDUs also began failing in the cabinets with numerous and varied types of failures. Just prior to researching other alternatives the failure rate of new and previously installed PDUs had reached 12 percent, which is completely unacceptable in their critical environments, so it was clear that changes had to be made.

The CTMT staff researched new alternatives from seemingly every major PDU manufacturer. They received a number of evaluation units with more than adequate time to test them per their internal procedures. While certain PDUs excelled in some areas, they also fell short in many others. Conversely, Server Technology, Inc. (STI) offered all the options that CTMT thought they would ever need in a PDU. Additionally, STI offered a highly customizable product. This extensive research promoted CTMT to switch suppliers and go with PDUs manufactured by Server Technology, Inc. To date, CTMT has not received a defective STI PDU, and those that have been in service for more than two years have not had any problems.

During installation and support, a laptop computer and the native Hyperterm application provide access to the Server Technology integral user interface. “ServerTech has done an outstanding job with the PDU software, and it provides more than enough critical information to the user, all through the very simple Hyperterm application” explains Data Center Manager Chris Wanger. A secure web-based, IP-enabled interface is also available, allowing both in-band and out-of-band communications with the PDU. The IP-based communication protocols include HTTP, HTTPS, Telnet, and SSH. Other communication tools include LDAP, LDAPS, TACACS+, DHCP, and, of course. a serial interface.

Some years ago, CTMT began to use Sentry Switched CDUs because of its need to have the ability to control individual outlets. The CDUs come in both the single- and dual-fed power configurations. In the past IS employees installing and plugging in equipment and completely bypassing the facilities team had caused problems. Of course in most cases the equipment was plugged in incorrectly, either having single cords plugged into non-static circuits, or dual-corded devices plugged into the same source of power. These instances always create extra work because once they are discovered outages must be requested to make corrections. With switched PDUs, unused outlets are turned off so the facilities personnel must be present during all new installations, allowing direct supervision of the installation, including which power sources and outlets are utilized for any new equipment.

Additionally, product availability has always been a big issue for CTMT. Customers will often decide to quickly install new hardware, and their requests must be supported in a timely fashion. Previously, the average lead time was 5 weeks, and in several instances orders were delayed more than six months.

The PDUs also offer other features, including temperature/humidity probes that have generous lead lengths. The capability to install and monitor two individual probes per PDU ensures that these measurements can be made exactly where they are required providing the highest level of accuracy. Alarm and output information is available via an integral interface, SNMP traps, or email alerts.