Eaton PDUs Review

Power monitoring alerts us when there is a commercial power issue to help ensure we don't lose equipment

What is our primary use case?

We have distributed our data center into four different locations, and two of the locations house our new Nexus 9000 network cores. That's where we are using the Eaton High Density PDUs.

How has it helped my organization?

The power monitoring capability alerts us so that if there is a commercial power issue we can ensure that we've gone to generator power, so we don't lose equipment. That means we can respond to power outages faster, and make sure that everything's working. It definitely saves us time, and it saves us money in the sense that our customers are happy.

Another benefit is that the solution’s ease of identifying outlets and it’s hot-swappable communications module make managing our environment very easy. The number of outlets definitely makes it very easy to wire your power cords.

I also expect these units have prevented downtime because we've had a lot of people working in these closets. There have been a lot of electricians and a lot of AC guys and I'm sure they've bumped into the PDUs, and nothing's come unplugged.

The high density of outlets helps us save space and reduce the number of PDU strips. In our situation, it does not have that much of an effect because we've distributed our data centers. So right now we have plenty of space. But I'm sure, as the university grows and the data center grows, it's going to allow us to use those rack units for servers and switches, as opposed to PDUs.

While the solution offers outlet switching control and detailed power-consumption measurement, those have not had any effect on our data center or power distribution operations, yet. But in the future, they will enable us to see where we're using the power and decide how to adjust that.

In terms of overall power management, now that we've partnered with Eaton High Density PDUs, we're working on getting their management solution installed. Hopefully we'll have that done by the end of October, and then we will be able to monitor all of their PDUs and UPSs. They promise me that we should be able to monitor other brands that we currently have on campus as well, although we won't have as much control over them as we do with the Eaton equipment.

The management solution will enable us to have a network engineer reboot a switch from home instead of having to come in and physically plug and unplug it. It will make things quicker. We will be able to get back up faster. And it prevents me from making a guy leave his house at 2 o'clock in the morning and drive 45 minutes to get there.

What is most valuable?

One of the best parts is the number of outlets on the PDU. It allows for excellent wire management so you don't have a spider web of power cords.

I also really like the way they lock, so that somebody can't accidentally bump a power cord and it will come out. I, personally, was working on the back of a systems rack and it was a very tight space. As I was moving, my knee bumped across a power cord, not very hard at all, and it took down half of the rack. We were right in the middle of updating some OS files and we lost two servers completely that had to be completely rebuilt.

Also, the solution's color chassis options are a benefit. One of our new standards is that we've gone red and yellow with all power cables and PDUs, for primary and redundant. It's very easy for a technician to see that he's not unplugging both the power supplies of one unit. When everything is black and you're trying to trace it, sometimes your finger accidentally comes off the cable and you get on the wrong one. Next thing you know, you've unplugged both power supplies of a system and you have a crash. I've never done that one, but I have seen it done several times. The red and yellow make it almost idiot proof.

In addition, it allows you to configure as many outlets as you want, in a length that fits your specific rack size, so you don't have to have multiple PDUs.

What needs improvement?

My only complaint with it is that we use Panduit wire management and Eaton's PDUs will not lock into Panduit. There are two little knobs on the back where you can just slip it in and it'll lock right into the wire management, but it does not work on Panduit. It only works on their proprietary wire management. It needs to be able to integrate with other wire managers.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using Eaton High Density PDUs for about three months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been excellent. We have the vendor’s three-year service plan but we have not had to use it. We have not had problem number-one with these.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is also excellent. If I need to add more switches or other equipment, I can just rack them and plug them in because I have plenty of outlets.

Our usage of the Eaton PDUs is very minimal right now. It's covering about 10 percent of our needs. We only have four of these on campus, but we do plan on extending usage. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The tech support is excellent. When we first got the units, the mounting brackets they sent were not long enough and we needed to get different mounting brackets. We used their tech support then and they jumped right on it and got it taken care of. They were responsive, knowledgeable, and gave us a timely response.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We previously used Vertiv, which was formerly called Emerson. We switched because they had beyond-horrible customer service. I was spending tens of thousands of dollars with them and I couldn't get a call back.

How was the initial setup?

They were very easy to install. I didn't have to pay anybody to install them, so we saved money there. One of my guys just screwed them in and they were done. It was extremely easy, pretty much plug-and-play.

We had to use extenders because of the wire management we have, so it took a little longer than it normally would have. It took 45 minutes per rack to do both PDUs.

It's also easy to configure it. We haven't gotten all that far on that, because we don't have their other system hooked up. Right now we're just in the web interface. We just went to the IP and it worked.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing is higher, but you're also buying from a company that's been around for decades. It has the staff to support you so that when you call at 2 o'clock in the morning, somebody is going to help you out. You're not going to have to wait until 8:00 AM the next day. It's more pricey, but I definitely think it's worth the money.

The licensing seems to be very reasonable. It's not very complicated.

The only additional fee is if you want to opt in for their extended maintenance.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I looked at Tripp Lite and CyberPower. Both of those vendors have a quality product, but neither felt like an enterprise solution. Since this was going in our data center, I felt that Eaton, as a larger company, could support us better. The possibility of them disappearing three years from now was extremely slim.

In terms of number of outlets, I didn't really look into that because I didn't need that many. I just made sure it had enough for what I needed. Every product I looked at had enough outlets for me, although one definitely has more. I couldn't say that it has 10 percent or 15 percent more than any others, but I would definitely say it has more than anybody else's.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is to take your time and plan out your rack elevations in the beginning to make sure everything lays out the way you want it.

The biggest lesson I've learned from using this solution is to make sure you've got the right mounting brackets before you get started. We had to zip-tie the PDUs to the wire manager while we waited for the brackets to get here. We had downtime planned. We took them out of the box without looking at them ahead of time, which was my fault, and realized the brackets weren't long enough to accommodate our wire management, because we've got oversized wire management.

As for other solutions from Eaton, we're using all their UPSs now. The university has also gone to their automatic transfer switches. They just fired up their first ones a couple of weeks ago and they seem to be very happy with them. The comprehensiveness of the vendor's power management offerings is excellent.

My network engineers use this solution to monitor and do remote, so four people use it, counting myself. They do everything that has to do with that system.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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