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09/08/2020

How Smart PDUs Help IoT Device Power Management

Smart PDU IoT Applications

The Internet of Things (IoT) was bound to happen. Provide a way to connect billions of remote devices and allow them to share data easily and accurately, and the rest will follow. Most organisations are now dependent on some aspect of the IoT or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and will be processing data within their core IT server rooms, one or more Cloud datacentres and in Edge computing applications.

In 2020 there are now more than 50 billion IoT connected devices, generating 4.4 Zettabytes of data and this is set to rise exponentially. The IoT has therefore extended the boundaries of an organisation’s computer network and will continue to do so. As this complexity increases, so does the pressure and need to provide efficient power management, monitoring and control, both locally and remotely.

More information: https://www.networkworld.com/article/3207535/what-is-iot-the-internet-of-things-explained.html

Network Connectivity

Datacentres and server rooms are designed to run on a 24/7 basis to provide services to their clients. To adapt to the demands of a rapidly expanding network of IoT connections, most facilities have had to expand their infrastructures to cope with increased connections and speed requirements. Even if an IoT device processes its data at the Edge of the network, there may still be the need to collate, analyse, monitor, and store the data within a central IT server facility.

5G mobile connections will be a game changer in terms of the number of devices that can connect to the IoT. 5G should through faster mobile communications and Wi-Fi connectivity, make it easier to connect even more devices to the Internet of Things. The cost per connection being lower than Ethernet cabled devices and the amount of data streaming 24/7 from the Edge to the core of a datacentre network will rise exponentially.

For datacentre and facilities managers, the IoT will add additional pressures of resilience and maintenance. Server capacity management and utilisation will become even more vital, as will critical infrastructure system resilience (e.g. power and cooling). Network infrastructures will have to be flexible enough to maintain uptime and yet allow for system maintenance and upgrades.

Power Monitoring and Control

In a vastly more complex IT network, remote power monitoring and control will also become more important. Managing the power to hundreds and thousands of devices will require the deployment of smart power management devices that be controlled via an Ethernet/IP connection (cable or Wi-Fi) on-premise or via a Cloud-portal,

Power management solutions will have to be deployed right to the Edge to reduce downtime and ensure load balancing. Smart power PDUs (power distribution units) will for example provide facilities including individual socket outlet control, sequential start-up, reboot and even recovery to their previous state of operation if there is a power outage. Smart power strips and power cables will also be deployed to provide power and energy data usage and connected load control.

Local and Edge System Power Protection

Any device connected to the IoT will require a power source. This may be in the form of a connection to the local mains power supply or be provided by a built-in battery that will require eventual replacement. Most devices with a built-in battery will require its replacement every 2 years and the devices themselves will generally monitor the state of the battery and alarm before reserve power falls too low. Typical examples include wireless sensors (temperature, humidity, water leakage and air quality), network gateways, and access door controls.

A built-in battery should make a device tolerant of local power outages. Where this is not the case, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) may be deployed. It is important to remember that a single gateway failing due to a power outage can disrupt that part of the data network.

Local and Edge Device Power Monitoring

Whilst it may be relatively easy to manage power to central devices within a server room or datacentre, this may not be the case for those deployed at the Edge.

An IoT Edge device will be one that can both collect and locally process data, before sending this back to a datacentre. A typical example could be a factory floor computer or server rack for local process control manufacturing, video surveillance or occupancy tracking camera, smart street lights, automated industrial devices, smart electricity meters, RFID tags, smart office HVAC and lighting systems, smart fridges & freezers, and even autonomous vehicles.

At some time during their operation, Edge devices need to be taken out of service or rebooted. Examples can include service visits, firmware upgrades and load shedding as part of a wider energy management or demand-side power management plan.

Each device should therefore be connected to their local power supply through some form of smart PDU or switched PDU with individually controlled outlets, that can be remotely monitored and controlled. This allows for controlled power ON/OFF. Sometimes individual load control cannot be achieved by simply turning the power to the device on or off i.e. when the device has a built-in battery for backup. Here the device will need to be interfaced to an environment monitoring capable of issuing a digital input or software-based command.

Environment Monitoring

Aside from power and connectivity considerations, the other disruptive factor to IoT operations is temperature. For datacentres and server rooms some form of critical cooling infrastructure is vital to even short-term operation and resilience. This is because of the amount of energy required by servers and the potential for rapid heat build-up in server racks.

IoT computers, servers and devices tend to incorporate internal ambient sensor and these generally cut-off if the device gets too hot. Leave a mobile phone in the sun for too long and it will eventually alarm and power down to protect its electronics and lithium battery.

For IT facilities, best practice is to install an environment monitoring with sensors for temperature, temperature & humidity, water leakage and/or smoke detection. An alternative may be to use intelligent PDUs with accessory sensors for environmental factors such as temperature or temperature & humidity.

Either option should provide way to monitor ambient factors over the local or wider area network and to use power management to control devices should it be required i.e. power down when loads are ‘hot’ or operating in too warm an environment.

Summary

The Internet of Things is transforming society and how organisation and businesses operation. Billions of devices are already connected, raising concerns as to how to manage this complex network of interrelated devices. Smart PDUs and power strips provide a relatively easy way to manage and control connected devices, via an Ethernet/IP cable or Wi-Fi connection. Deploying relatively low-cost smart PDUs in an IoT network not only provides remote monitoring and control but can also reduce field service costs and response times. Environment monitoring also ensures IoT uptime through monitoring ambient factors using connected sensors for factors including temperature, humidity, and water leakage. Smart power and environment management is therefore critical to the overall success of the IoT and possibly as important as data speed and network capacity.

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