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Wireless Data Center Solutions, DCIM, and Secure Cables

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Just after thanksgiving, we've got a cornucopia of information for you with Greg More, Senior Product Marketing Manager with Raritan.

Topics we'll be covering -
Raritan's new wireless data center solution and what led to Raritan's solution.

We'll discuss where wireless in the data center is heading. For instance, we recently saw that a team from Cornell and Microsoft have decided that a wireless data center could replace one with traditional links. Is it viable?

We'll cover the upcoming Gartner show in Las Vegas, December 3 - 6. A big topic will be DCIM.

Finally, we'll cover Raritan's new product called SecureLock that prevents interruptions of service.


0:25 Steve St. Clair

Everyone, welcome back to Raritan Radio. My name is Steve St. Clair. It's just after thanksgiving. We've got a cornucopia of information for you with Greg More, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Raritan. How are you doing Greg?

0:38 Greg More

I'm good. Thanks Steve.

0:41 Steve St. Clair

So let's start of because we've got a bit of ground to cover here. Let's start off talking about Raritan's new wireless data center solution, because we're pretty excited about that. First, why are data centers so interested in going wireless? What's up with wireless in the data center?

0:57 Greg More

Well, wireless is you can easily imagine, it means that you don't need to pull a lot of ethernet cable. So, if you decide you're going to design a data center and typically racks in a data center have two PDUs in them so that you have power redundancy. Each of those PDUs, assuming they are intelligent PDUs, so that you can communicate to those PDUs, you connect an ethernet cable to each one of them so that means a two ethernet drops at each rack and for however many racks you have. Well, each of those ethernet drops cost you money in terms of maintaining the ethernet connection in terms of the switches, quite considerable cost in pulling the cable and if you're not doing a new data center, but you have an existing data center, let's say one that currently has dumpy so you didn't have to run any ethernet, but now you want all the advantages that intelligent PDUs give you like metering your power and being able to attach sensors for environmental monitoring and things like that. You can be faced with not only a big expense, but it maybe very difficult to pull that cable. Data centers tend to have lots of cables; space for cables is often at the premium. So, that could be a real issue. So cost in an existing data center just as your ability to get it done. So by eliminating that cable pulling to get ethernet to the PDU itself, if I can communicate to the PDU wirelessly via wireless antenna talking to some set of wireless access points located in the ceiling of the data center that makes my deployment much easier, much less expensive and that's really the driving forest behind the wireless in the data center.

3:08 Steve St. Clair

I imagine if you are talking to somebody who gather some data centers who makes their decisions that one of their first concerns might be security and I am sure being a Raritan, you have already got an answer for that.

3:20 Greg More

Yes, actually the way to think about security with respect, and by the way this is a Wi-Fi system, the way to think about security is there's what's known as the OSI stack, they are the seven layers starting from the very basic hardware layer on up to applications. If you look at the physical network, yes the wired has this -- the wired network is physical so I can lock doors, build fences, put receptionist in the lobby and prevents people from getting to my network physically. In the case of wireless, most wireless waves propagate a fair distance depending on what frequency they are operating at. So I don't have that physical layer obscurity, but after that -- after that physical layer, it comes to all this different layers in the OSI stack and all of those can contribute to security. So actually what has happened is yes somewhere in this network early on the specifications for them weren't particularly well-thought out with respect to security so there were a few security holes, but several years in the past now, these specifications have really tightened up a lot of people, understood what they needed to do and filled in the holes and there is also additional security beyond just the physical layer.

5:06 Greg More

To take this a little further if you think about a firewall that all of us have in our home and businesses have it, that firewall is designed to prevent a malware attack of some sort from getting into your network physically, getting into your network the firewall blocks that. But if you have someone inside your company, who decides to do harm, that firewall is irrelevant because the person inside the company is inside the firewall. They are not blocked by the firewall. So in order to protect your network inside, you need things like authorizations, permissions, authentication, encrypting the data, etc. Well, wireless now is doing all that. There are the security levels that are designed in so that the right people have access that wrong people don't. They're also encrypting the information so that you can't just set up some sort of wireless scanner and listen to what's going on or pick up passwords or something like that. So the notion that wireless isn't secure is really not that relevant today because security has been implemented at many other levels. In fact, one might argue that any kind of communication want to have security at all these other levels whether it's wireless or wire line to really be secure.

6:37 Steve St. Clair

So what is it about Raritan PDUs that has allowed us to come about this wireless solution?

6:46 Greg More

Back in August 2010, we came out with our generation two intelligent PDU. These are the PX2 models, if you happen to be searching for a Raritan product and you see a product name, a particular model. We have PX.V2- and then a number and that identifies the particular model. If you see PX2-, that's our Generation 2 model and these have been out now for more than two years. They are the vast majority of the models that we make and the reason this is relevant is that when we went to our Generation 2 models, we did a number of things with respect to the controller including putting USB A and USB B ports on our PDU. In fact, I believe we are the only PDU manufacturer to date that has done this. The reason that's relevant for wireless is the way our wireless system works is we have a docking station. It's a cable may be about 6 feet long or so and on one end of that cable is a USB A plug and you plug that into the USB A port on our PDU, then you run this cable up typically to the top of a cabinet because that's where you would get the best coverage, wireless coverage, and into this dock, its may be 2 inches x 1 inch x 1 inch, there's a USB slot and into that USB slot, you put a USB wireless antenna, and that wireless antenna communicates to a wireless access point, one or more wireless access points in the data center.

8:44 Greg More

And by the way, Raritan is using their own wireless antenna because we want to be sure that we control the protocols so that we are sure that a third party wireless antenna does not change something and then we have -- there's an issue communicating, etc. And also, we want our wireless antenna to operate on 802.11a, b, g and n, those are different protocols, because data center is depending on when they deploy the wireless network may have a, they may have b, they may have g, they may have n. We want our antennas to be able to work with whatever the customer has.

9:31 Steve St. Clair

Okay. So where do you see this going, the Wi-Fi, the wireless and data centers where does that lead to, where companies had it?

9:42 Greg More

Well, I think it's already starting to take hold. Certainly, if you want to add capability to an existing data center, that's a great place to bring in wireless because as I said at the beginning of this conversation, you don't need to pull cable, but even for new data centers, some data centers now have the objective to minimize the number of ethernet drops because it gets expensive. It can be depending on where you are doing it and some of the issues involved, it could be anywhere from $500 to $1000 to deploy an ethernet drop and then you have ongoing overhead cost of maintaining that drop because you have to have the cable, you have to have the switches, but there is the physical labor of pulling the cable, etc., etc. So even for new data centers, they're beginning to look at wireless and say, "Gee, I can deploy a wireless network for the same amount of money or less, than just the cost of pulling the cable, right?" Forget about the switches or everything else just the cost of pulling the cable I can do a full wireless solutions for less demand. Another advantage to think about is, if at some point you are going to relocate your data center, may be you have a colo facility and they give you ethernet connections, maybe to the case, but anything you do beyond that is up to you and someday down the road, you decide, "Gee, I want to relocate all my equipment to my own enterprise, owned data center instead of doing colo." Well if you've gone and worn a bunch of ethernet cable, that's pretty much just going to stay there right? I mean that's a sunk cost.

11:41 Greg More

Whereas with wireless, I can take my antennas, take my wireless access points and move to my own data center and I have all this recoverable equipment that I can use when I move, whereas with a wired network all that investment in pulling cable at some cost that I don't get that back when I move to another location. So there are a number of very solid economic reasons to look seriously at doing wireless communications.

12:15 Steve St. Clair

The reason why it's just within the __12:16__ not to move if you are doing a rearrangement of your rack, for instance. It makes __12:23__ easier.

12:24 Greg More

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Sure. Sure. Yeah there are a lot of benefits.

12:28 Steve St. Clair

Very cool. So if someone is doing like a large appointment of this, do they have any concerns? What are their issues for large appointments of these antennas and you fix and everything was intense.

12:44 Greg More

Sure. I think at the PDU level, there really isn't much to be concerned about. The dock plugs into the PDU itself. We run this base up to the top of a cabinet that dock. The bottom of it is magnetized, so it makes it very easy to have it stay on top of the cabinet and then of course, the USB antenna just slips inside of that. I think one of the design considerations to bear in mind is when you're deploying the wireless access points. And by the way, we're not in the wireless access point business that would come from a third party like series, for example make wireless access points, is you want enough access points so that you have some communications redundancy. This by the way is another reason that wireless can be a real boon. If somebody disconnects an ethernet cable from a PDU, that PDU is now disconnected. But if there is a communication problem with wireless, the way these systems are designed is that you can skip to another frequency or if a wireless access point is down the way your waves seek an available access point, so there's a lot of nice communications redundancy in a wireless deployment, but when you are designing where those access points go and what the frequencies are, etc., you want think about having this redundancy so if one access point happen to go down, the antennas in your data center would be within range of other access point and could communicate to them.

14:36 Steve St. Clair

Oh that's a huge benefit. Very cool. Now, how people learn more about these solutions?

14:42 Greg More

Well, we're gonna be introducing it at the Gartner show which is coming up next week. It opens on Monday in Las Vegas at The Venetian. That's really we're introducing this and we're gonna be sending out a usually sounded, I believe on Monday.

15:03 Steve St. Clair


15:04 Greg More

But after Monday, there's -- there will be information about it on our website. We have a white paper that just about to come out that we co-authored with Sirius, this wireless access company. All about using wireless for monitoring your data center wirelessly. And the product information, there will be a section it -- we consider this wireless deployment to be sort of an accessory to our IPDUs. So, if you go to raritan.com go into the power management section of products and there you'll be able to find information about our wireless solution there.

15:56 Steve St. Clair

Awesome. Greg you gave us a good segue there, but here's my next question was about Gartner? You guys are going next week right!

16:03 Greg More

Yes! Yes! We have a booth; I guess you call it a kiosk at the data center conference. Again, that's at The Venetian and we're planning on both manning the booth during the exhibits hours, but also attending various sessions. We don't happen to be speaking this year, but there should be some interesting topics and I always look forward to hearing what the Gartner is to have to say.

16:32 Steve St. Clair

Now you guys December 3 or 6 in Las Vegas for anyone listening and make sure you do look up at Raritan. We will be posting a booth number or a table number on the website and on the social media, Facebook or Twitter.

16:47 Greg More

And the exhibit -- there are certain hours for the exhibits. The exhibits are open Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; I believe that's the 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

16:57 Steve St. Clair

That's great! Now I understand the topic out there especially if you guys is gonna be a DCIM.

17:00 Greg More

Yes! We're obviously very interested in DCIM. We have DCIM software on the asset capacity and change site that's our DC tracks software and then on the energy management environmental monitoring site, we have Power IQ. So, those two individual pieces of software that are designed to work together, but can also work stand alone that creates our DCIM software product. So, we're very interested in knowing more about DCIM. One of the Gartner analysts, Jay Pultz, we have spoken to him on a number of occasions and I have a meeting set to talk to him and find out his latest views on where the DCIM market is going. So, I'm looking forward to doing that.

17:50 Steve St. Clair

And we could say that where - if it is allowed after he get back that will be great.

17:54 Greg More

Yeah, I'm sure I could mention some of the insights that sounds like a great idea.

18:05 Steve St. Clair

So, what else is happening at Gartner that got you interested and you gonna check out any other papers or presentations that are going on __18:14__.

18:14 Greg More

Yes, not only in my meeting Jay individually, but he is also doing an update on DCIM because I think it is maybe like an hour long session or so. So, I'm looking forward to that. And there is just a number of interesting sessions at this conference. They're doing things on the green data center, being more efficient. They're a ton of topics. One interesting session that I definitely want to attend is the Keno presentation and they have Sullenberger, the pilot who landed the airplane on Hudson River.

18:57 Steve St. Clair

That's gonna be so cool.

18:59 Greg More

I'll be interesting to hear what he has to say and I think the theme this year, they're a couple of themes you know being efficient and what not. But I think part of the theme this year is disaster recovery. So, I think that may be (crosstalk).

19:20 Steve St. Clair

It just great, it's a perfect sticker for that cool (laughter).

19:24 Greg More

Yes, so I think that's why they brought them in and it should be interesting and obviously they're will be breakout sessions on disaster recovery techniques and you know how virtual servers how do you handle them differently and physical servers if she is gonna disaster things like that. So, I'm thinking that will be very interesting as well.

19:48 Steve St. Clair

Yeah, very cool guy. Finally, I want to talk about another new product that is called Secure Lock that's perfect for guys like me who not conserve a lot.

19:59 Greg More


20:00 Steve St. Clair

Can you tell me about it and...

20:02 Greg More

Sure, the Secure Lock is a Raritan product. We in all our PDUs that had been made since June 2012. The C13 and C19 outlets, the relevant model PDUs those that have those outlets. Those have SecureLock now. So the SecureLock outlets can be used with a standard cord that plug in plain gen-cord, it works fine. However, it does not lock in place. In order for the cord to lock in place, you would need to purchase a Raritan Secure Lock Cord and that comes in lengths anywhere from 2 feet to 15 feet and its configured C13 and C14, 14 being the male plug, 13 being the female. On either rand or C19/C20 on either rand in those different lengths and the C19/C20 have heavier gauge cable because they're handling more current circuit.

21:18 Steve St. Clair


21:20 Greg More

The SecureLock plug-in has tabs on it and so when you plug this SecureLock plug, the male portion, into the female outlet on the Raritan PDU. This tabs latch into the outlet and make it so that the cord does not pull out without pressing on the side of the plug to disengage these tabs and then you can unplug the cord. The reason we did this is a lot of data centers complain about how both IEC C13 and IEC C19 outlets and their mating plugs have a tendency to come out. The slots are vertical, so gravity tends to want to pull the cord down these vertical slots. There is no locking mechanism like there would be with a twist-lock NEMA connector. So that has become a concern when you are working on a rack, you may accidentally knock a cable out or if there is a certain amount of vibration the plugs might vibrate out. So data centers are very concerned about not losing power to their servers, this is a way of making sure that the cords fits in and locks in place. And we think it's a very cost effective solution because most of data centers buy this power cords whether they are SecureLock or just standard cords. They buy them in different lengths so that they can dress their cables nice and neatly. Well, the SecureLock cables if you take the purchase of standard cables, a SecureLock cable is minimally more expensive than this other cables and you get the huge benefit of the plug not falling out of the IPDU. Another point to mention is our SecureLock cables are available in black, red and blue in all the different lengths that I mentioned so that you can color code which power cord is going to which PDU and that really makes for a very nicely dressed data center rack.

23:33 Steve St. Clair

Yeah very cool. Then it is a system. It is an integrated system of the cords and the PDU outlets.

23:39 Greg More

Yes, and I said the outlets, all our PDUs manufactured since June of this year have those SecureLock outlets on them in order to take advantage of the SecureLock outlet though you would need to purchase SecureLock cables from Raritan or actually one of our distributors, the various dealers, etc.

24:03 Steve St. Clair

Well I think it is a thoughtful solution too because the data center doesn't have to go all or one. It's not a write and replace. If you want standard AC power cords, it's made with those perfectly.

24:15 Greg More


24:16 Steve St. Clair

Want them not to fall out then you get the SecureLock outlet cords.

24:19 Greg More

Yes, exactly. Exactly.

24:20 Steve St. Clair

Which is great. What is the buzz in the market on this? They must be pretty excited about this and I love the simplicity of it. Anything simple to me is great. There's too much complexity out there already.

24:33 Greg More

Yeah. It is very simple and actually we've just launched the campaign and just starting now where every Raritan PDU, and again these are the ones that have C13 or C19 outlets on them. Some of ours have NEMA, all NEMA outlets on them, in which case that is not SecureLock, but for all the ones that have C13 or C19s, we are including a sample cable with that PDU. So we are giving away free, a sample cable with a tag on it that says, I read this to you, "Plug me into your Raritan IPDU, I'm a SecureLock power cord, I have integrated locking tabs, no kinks just coils, black, red and blue colors" and then there is a little information on the other side and we have one of those QR codes. So, you can scan that QR code with your smart phone and get additional information. We're only supplying one, but it is a sample. You can try it, check to see how well it holds in the outlet and then you can buy whatever you need to outfit your data center with SecureLock cables.

25:55 Steve St. Clair

Well that sounds great Greg. I'm looking forward exploring more about these and see how to sales go. Now I'm sure its going to be hot. So you are heading out to Gartner. When do you take off?

26:05 Greg More

I'm flying out Sunday evening and then on Monday, I have a couple of customer meetings and then I'm going to help our team. There will be a total of three of us out there. Get the booth ready for Monday evening's exhibit. I believe the exhibit opens Monday at 6:00. So we will have all our staff up and ready to go. We will have sample SecureLock cables out there. We will have a sample of our wireless system with the dock and the antenna and of course all our other products including our asset tracking devices, some sample PDUs etc. In fact, we have a rack that is configured with a number of different devices in it, so that really gives you a sense of how all these things work and what they look like installed, etc.

27:08 Steve St. Clair

And I will tell the listeners also, Greg is great at trade sales because he tweets regularly what is going on now if want to follow. I'm sure we can get them in following your progress at their own Twitter and repost and share photos on Facebook as well.

27:25 Greg More

Yeah, you just reminded me that I need to do that. I tend not to think about this new social media stuff as much as I should, but that is a good reminder. I will be sure to let you know what I learned during the day.

27:38 Steve St. Clair

You're very good at it, trust me in the last show you were great. Speaking of the last show, I believe it was in Tennessee and you have to go and see a band perform. What is on your social agenda at Vegas?

27:49 Greg More

Well, you know, I don't really have thought about that a lot. There are some restaurants out in Las Vegas, so I may take in a good meal. I'm debating whether I will spend anytime in a black check table. When do gamble that is what I do, but I'm not a big gambler. So I will say I intend to get in one of those Powerball lottery tickets today because I could sure use whatever it is up to now, 350 million or something, but I think I've good a shot. It is only like 135 million to one so I figure, you know, that $2 is a solid investment man.

28:34 Steve St. Clair

Is that right? Well Greg, it is always a pleasure and have a great time out at Gartner and I look forward to our next show when you get back, maybe we will schedule on to hear some of the insights that you learned out there.

28:44 Greg More

That would be great. I'd love to do that. Thanks a lot Steve.

28:47 Steve St. Clair

Alright talk to you soon.

28:49 Greg More

Okay take care.

28:50 Steve St. Clair

In the meantime, please check out Raritan.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and keep up with what Greg is doing in Las Vegas and how much money he is winning at the gambling tables. Have a good one Greg. We'll talk to you soon.

29:04 Greg More

Thank you. Take care, bye.