The edge computing marketplace is currently experiencing a period of unprecedented growth. IT solution providers looking to support that growth are challenged with offering technologies that decrease complexity while speeding up overall deployment.
Unique opportunities for increased profitability and business expansion present themselves for both value-added resellers (VARs) and managed service providers (MSPs) since, in most cases, no local IT support is available in edge computing environments. Those with IT system sales and deployment expertise stand to gain from growing requirements for installation, support and maintenance services. VARs and MSPs also can address the accelerated end user needs for both hardware and software solutions that make remote management and monitoring an easier task. Monitoring extends beyond just servers and storage and can also include important uptime influencers such as power, temperature and humidity.
Why configure-to-order intelligent rack PDUs are a good fit for edge computing
A product that suits edge environments particularly well is the rack PDU. For years, these long, thin bars of intelligent electrical outlets have been placed inside of racks and enclosures to provide power to servers, storage devices, networking equipment, and other devices. Many PDU manufacturers have extensive catalogs of standard pre-configured PDUs with some customised offerings to meet unique needs. However, customisation can lead to longer lead times, minimum order quantities, and increased price. For edge deployments such restrictions are less than optimal.
Edge deployments are new and unique. Efficiencies gained in the past in traditional central data centers with one standard part are efficiencies lost when trying to make something work for a unique environment. An example might include work arounds over and over from site to site to tailor the standard solution to the unique needs of an individual site, not to mention that edge environments can include 10, 20, 100, and even 1,000 sites. Like fitting a round peg in a square hole, often times a standard off the shelf solution will not do for these unique demanding environments. So, today’s racks and rack PDUs are available as configure-to-order components via simple and quick local factory configurations. These are ideal for the massive amount of diversity that characterises today’s edge computing environments. Whether edge systems are installed in retail stores, factory floors, antiquated network closets, oil platforms, or other remote locale with varying IT gear requirements, a rack PDU can now be configured-to-order to meet the requirement of each individual IT deployment and its rack elevation.
End users with edge computing needs are particularly interested in these devices for four basic reasons:
1. Remote management capabilities
In edge environments, servers can get hung up, or particular circuits may be close to a power consumption overload condition. However, there is no local expertise to deal with these situations and unplanned downtime often results. Intelligent rack PDUs have power load monitoring and remote reboot capabilities built-in and can act as local touchpoints in edge environments, thereby avoiding potential instances of downtime.
2. Human error risk avoidance
Configure-to-order PDUs can be color coded, for example. In order to avoid the problem of plugging electrical loads into the wrong outlet, red outlets can be designated as “critical” if a local employee happens to be in the room that houses the IT system. System integrators can also use color as a part of their rack and stack service offering to their customers. The color coding of the PDUs and color powered cords connected to the IT gear provide a simple factory audit to overlook the rack during rack and stack and cabling to ensure high availability upon delivery to site.
3. Standardisation across sites
Configure-to-order rack PDUs optimise and tailor, to the user’s need, both the quantity and physical location of the electrical outlets. Once a configuration is specified and built, it can be deployed as a standard across the various sites that require smart PDU support. The configuration can be designed to match the existing IT stack within the rack, providing just the right location and number of outlets required. The design can also be configured to optimise the most logical and simple cabling routes within the rack, thereby speeding up installation. When compared to a standard PDU design, where a certain number of outlets may go unused because they are out of reach of the in-rack IT gear, the configure-to-order PDUs assure a more space efficient design.
4. Ease of deployment
Companies like APC have invested in rack PDU configure-to-order architectures and design tools to ease configuration in order to significantly reduce lead times when unique PDU needs are required. This is accomplished by allowing rack PDUs to be configurable in local factories versus centralised overseas manufacturing locations. All needed components are stocked in each of the regional locations. These factories have been quickly expanded to provide these configure-to-order capabilities in North America, Europe and Asia. Configuring and building these power related products to unique needs at the factory versus modifications by licensed electricians in the field ensures a safe and reliable product and reduces the need for planned downtime in the field to make adjustments.
In edge computing environments, competitive advantage falls to those who understand the diversity of edge applications and the importance of working within an edge-related ecosystem of partners. The right partners can offer products and the proper tools for configuring, ordering, delivering and supporting edge solutions. This approach also enables partners to provide Certainty in a Connected World to their end users which is vital in this era of digitalisation.
Easy access to edge computing solutions
Today, APC partners can access tools such as the Rack PDU configurator and the new Local Edge Configurator via the APC Partner Portal. These easy-to-use configurator tools produce only a single part number for each solution. Thus, partners avoid the time-consuming back and forth typically associated with most physical infrastructure order processes. To learn more visit our Rack PDU Configurator resource page.