Datacenter Trends

One Solution to the Problem of Rapid Datacenter Expansions

Constant equipment refreshes mean a constant need for new power configurations. One company has a fix for that particular side effect of all this expansion.

The news outlets are rife these days with headlines about massive datacenter investments from the likes of Facebook (huge new hyperscale datacenter in Singapore) and Google ($140 million datacenter expansion in Chile).

And it's no wonder; the needs of data-driven applications, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are behind a burgeoning global demand for physical space to store servers. A BCC Research report published early this year ("Colocation Data Center Industry: Global Markets to 2020") expects the market for that space to reach $54.8 billion in 2020, a 77 percent increase from 2016.

Of course, this trend isn't exclusive to the big datacenters. Facilities of all sizes are feeling the pressure to expand within the same square footage as new hardware devices are virtually stuffed into rack-mounted server bays to support new apps or additional processing capabilities.

"Datacenter managers are coping with an incredible amount of change," Marc Cram, marketing director at Server Technology, told me in a recent interview. "It's growth, but it's not just about the real estate. They also face a continuing evolution of the functionality of the services available in those datacenters, which derives from new hardware and architecture being deployed on an ongoing basis."

Cram is understandably focused on these changes. His company, which is a brand of Legrand, is a leading provider of intelligent rack power distribution units, or PDUs -- those power strips hanging in the back of the rack. 

"It's the one thing that's common to the whole rack," he said. "Servers, load balancers, storage; everything needs power."

Cram's company last week took the wraps off a new PDU, the HDOT Cx, which is designed to solve one particular side effect of all this expansion: constant equipment refreshes that require new power configurations and the purchase of new PDUs. This new product is a hybrid of the C13 and C19 outlets. (HDOT stands for "high density outlet technology.")

You'd think this would be a no-brainer solution; the need for a two-in-one PDU is kind of obvious. But Server Technology is promoting the HDOT Cx justifiably as "a groundbreaking advancement in rack mount power strips."

The Cx rack-mounted PDU is UL-tested for combination C13 and C19 outlets. All HDOT Cx modules utilize Cx outlets that can accommodate either a C14 or C20 power cable without the need for additional parts or adapters. The complete line of Server Technology's Smart, Switched and POPS PDUs can now be configured with HDOT Cx modules.

"All kinds of advances are putting pressure on datacenter managers these days," Cram said. "For example, one of the big trends at the moment is AI. But AI isn't just about the software. There's also a way to accelerate certain AI algorithms through hardware. It could be an Nvidia GPU, a Tensor chip from Google, or some sort of an FPGA as per the Microsoft approach. Each of those different pieces of hardware is probably going to come with a different enclosure, and they're going to try to wedge that into an existing rack somewhere in the datacenter, or they're going to have to deploy something new. And as the workloads change over time -- as the demands of things like IoT, voice interfaces, or autonomous vehicles are added -- datacenter managers have to adapt.

"We're relieving a bit of that pressure, and breaking that never-ending cycle of purchasing PDUs with every hardware change."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].


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