Dominion PX Harnesses Data Center Power

The Raritan device provides effective, secure power management and remote reboot.

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The Raritan Dominion PX is a 1U power distribution unit that provides control over individual outlets to measure power utilization and enable remote reboot. The Dominion PX is a good device for gaining an understanding of real-time power usage in the data center while extending labor-cost-saving control to rack-mounted equipment.

It looks like a big power strip, but the Dominion PX can play an essential role in helping IT managers get a grip on energy costs; the resulting data center changes could demonstrate cost cuts of 10 percent to 20 percent on recurring energy bills.

Click here for a closer look at the Dominion PX.

To gain full advantage of the Dominion PX's remote shutdown/restart capabilities, IT managers would have to install the device wholesale throughout the data center. That said, using the device in even a limited way will support a green energy reduction plan.

In addition, using optional, easy-to-install sensors, the Dominion PX can provide remote temperature and humidity data to round out knowledge of the data center operating environment.

Device Security

I tested the Raritan Dominion PX DPCR8-15, a 1U (1.75-inch) form factor, 120VAC, 15-amp, 8x NEMA 5-15R outlet unit that costs $649. The device competes with the APC Cyclades Alterpath ATP0601.

With great power comes great responsibility, and that is true with the Raritan Dominion PX, which started shipping earlier this year and works with Raritan's CommandCenter Secure Gateway.

The Dominion PX's embedded operating system is inaccessible from the outside, and the power management system uses 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) to secure command and control data between the management interface and the device itself. The product also supports the use of strong passwords.

During tests, the Dominion PX integrated with my Windows Active Directory infrastructure to ease user management while enabling me to keep a close watch on who was authorized to access the power management features. I was especially happy with the granular control afforded by the outlet-level permissions I established for various users and groups of users.

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I created several groups inside the Dominion PX administration system, and I could tightly define access and control for each. For example, I created a network group that could access only the outlets that powered the switches and routers in the network. The systems group, meanwhile, was allowed to view only real-time power usage and remotely contol those outlets used by servers. The electrician group was the "god operator," with full control over the switch, while the security group was able to see all power activity on the Dominion PX but wasn't able to power cycle the outlets.

I have to admit that I had a fair amount of trepidation when I first installed the Dominion PX because of this extensive remote power cycle ability. And IT managers with any doubts about the strength of their internal security systems--including certificate management-should pause before considering a smart PDU (power distribution unit) implementation. This has nothing to do with any weakness of the Dominion PX or other comparable systems; rather, it has everything to do with ensuring that the underlying network security infrastructure is in place to accommodate such systems.