An Overview: Remote Power Management Solutions

By: Lisa RiCharde

Remote power management solutions allow administrators to remotely power cycle servers and devices and troubleshoot problems, both locally and remote, from any location in the world. This provides administrators with the ability to manage servers more efficiently and reduce server downtime by affording direct access to power control. Remote power management solutions are also used by many businesses and organizations to manage servers at offices and branch locations where there are no IT staff members, offering cost-efficient "lights-out" operation at those sites.

Remote power management solutions add increased functionality over traditional metered and basic power products. While many power distribution units (PDUs) can provide basic information and amperage readings, only intelligent or 'switched' PDUs truly provide the benefit of outlet-level management.

In determining an appropriate power management solution, integration with today's KVM over IP solutions should be considered. Most enterprise KVM over IP solutions provide the ability to integrate power management within the same interface as the console session on each attached server. This integration can provide datacenter administrators with comprehensive remote power management capabilities.

Recent advances in remote power management include:

o - Branch Circuit Protection-several products now provide branch circuit protection-each branch of grouped outlets has its own fuse and circuit breaker, to isolate power anomalies and issues.

o - 3-Phase Power-the use of 3-Phase power in server room and datacenters is on the rise. 3-Phase power provides more balanced power loads and allows a greater flow of power into a server rack, while using fewer circuits.

o - Power-Up Sequencing-several products offer the ability to inflow of power to each receptacle, to prevent circuit overload and allow systems to reboot in sequence, such as firewalls, then routers, then servers.

Advantages of Remote Power Management
Compared to traditional power management solutions, remote power management offers significant and unique advantages.

Reduction of Server Downtime and Labor Costs-As remote power management solutions provide administrators with the ability to recycle power to non-responsive systems and troubleshoot problems remotely, they can lead to a reduction in server downtime and significantly reduce outages and losses. With traditional power management systems, when it is necessary to perform a cold reboot, technicians must be physically present to reboot a system, often at a substantial cost to a company or organization. With remote power management, in most instances, the dispatch of field personnel to manually execute a hard reboot is unnecessary, as administrators can immediately access the PDU via a browser and reboot the switch.

Status Monitoring-As server densities increase, power requirements and heat output are also on the rise. Remote power management solutions allow remote monitoring of amperage draw per circuit, humidity, and temperature. Many products are designed so that probes can be mounted directly onto the strip, eliminating the need for external hardware. Most remote power management solutions are SNMP-enabled so that alerts can be sent automatically when amperage, temperature, or humidity levels exceed established thresholds.

Frequently Asked Questions About Remote Power Management

Question: How do you know when circuits are at capacity?
Answer: An administrator will be notified when circuits are at capacity in two ways. An onsite administrator can check an LED on the PDU itself, which will display the total amperage draw. Additionally, administrators can view amperage remotely through a feature in the web-based management tool or utilizing SNMP integration.

Question: How quickly and effectively can power be recycled using remote power management?
Answer: Once an administrator sends a command for remote reboot, it takes place immediately.

Question: Can all remote power management solutions allow administrators to gain true redundancy and simultaneous control of multiple power supply devices?
Answer: No. However, there are several manufacturers that provide simultaneous reboot of redundant power supplies, grouped across separate circuits.

Question: What security features do remote reboot power devices offer?
Answer: Remote reboot power devices have many security features. Basic features include user name and password authentication and communication via SSL or using SSH. Additionally, the use of LDAP, Active Directory, RADIUS or TACACS+ can be added to provide integration with existing authentication schema.

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