Power solutions provider Janitza aims to play a key role in edge infrastructure

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Power solutions provider Janitza aims to play a key role in edge infrastructure

Janitza is a German company that has been building power monitoring solutions for over 50 years. The company’s products serve a key role in powering edge computing infrastructure because preventing problems in distributed systems will be key to maintaining service uptime.

The company offers a wide range of products, from energy meters and power quality analyzers to the GridVis network analysis software. These tools are designed to monitor and optimize energy consumption and reduce costs. Janitza’s solutions are used in a variety of industries, from data centers to industrial manufacturers, to ensure a reliable and efficient power supply.

Janitza is raising its profile in North America by opening a new U.S. headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia in December 2022 and hiring key executives over the last 12 months. Most recently, the company named Mike Raths as CEO of Janitza LP North America in January 2023. Raths’ career began as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps and spans leadership roles at companies such as Atkore, Power Distribution, Inc. and Corning.

Edge Industry Review spoke with Andrew Ruef, director of sales and marketing with Janitza, about the company’s expansion in the U.S. market and the role that power analysis systems play in the edge computing ecosystem.

EdgeIR: Tell us about the decision to expand into the U.S. market after being focused mainly on Europe?

Andrew Ruef: The company has always had goals of expanding globally and has done so in other regions. It was an easy transition to the North American market because we had a client base ready from global companies that are customers. Our service, support teams and sales teams have been serving these customers since we opened in North America four years ago. Managing those existing customers was the baseline of what got us through the first year so, and since then [we’ve been] building out the brand name and the company from there.

What is power quality equipment and what role does it play in data centers?

Andrew Ruef: Consumption is the main issue when you’re talking about energy, and monitoring energy consumption is the number one thing that comes up. You want to review those consumption points that are racking up your energy bill every month, especially from an edge or a data center perspective. But there’s so much more to keep a data center, and especially the edge system up and running beyond just understanding energy consumption.

The biggest enemy of a data center is downtime. There are all sorts of scenarios that can cause production to stop. Power becomes a very big topic of conversation. When you’re diving into the details of the power distribution of a data center or an edge system, they’re even down to the small containers of the edge. You want to have a high level of detail in the energy flow and the power quality that’s happening in your data center. There are so many different aspects of power quality that can affect your operations and keep your servers from running.

You could have harmonics, for example, running down to the server level and disrupting the power supply of that server. It actually might either damage the power supply or degrade it to the point where it’s not going to have its full life. And so those are the kind of things that Janitza is monitoring. We monitor those power quality events and features down to the individual circuits, the branch circuit level.

If you have a good filtering system between your transformers, between your UPS and even in your backup generator sets, you could have power quality issues going down to the server level, but you never realize how much your facility itself is causing power quality issues down the line to the servers.

What does power quality mean in the context of regional and edge data centers?

Andrew Ruef: Forty-three percent of all downtime in data centers is electrical. That’s what our focus is. The key feature [at the edge] is having that remote connectivity of the data that’s been monitored out there so the power quality of that edge center is being monitored remotely. We also have tools for this, as well as the hardware that’s monitoring the physical lines. Data is getting pulled out of those monitoring tools into a separate remote package that you can monitor from multiple locations and then use that data to make the decisions that you need to keep your system running.

How are customers using software to monitor the health of power distribution networks and how does that relate to the use of DCIM tools?

Andrew Ruef: For data centers, DCIM tools are very focused on the operation of the server racks for a data center. That tool is specialized to monitor those systems, including the heating and cooling aisles, the conditions of the servers and the IT network connectivity. What Janitza does is focus on electrical distribution. If you look at all the monitoring tools that are needed for a data center, you’ll have a DCIM, a BMS (building management system) that focuses on the fire system, the IT security, the cooling and HVAC system, and then the electrical monitoring system will be another piece.

Using all three of those monitoring tools at a data center gives you a full look at the operation of that facility. From an edge standpoint, if you have multiple locations and pull all that data in to compare them, that is very useful. That is our electrical power monitoring system or EPMS system. while GridVis is our software that pulls in the electrical power distribution, power quality data, alarms and alerts that are happening in the facility, the waveform capture, and then storing that data for evaluation purposes.

Whether it’s a containerized data center sitting on the edge of a factory or a self-contained rack, being able to monitor devices is important. Do you have examples of customers that are already monitoring their edge systems?

Andrew Ruef: We have quite a few edge customers and colocation providers and even hyperscalers that use our products in their facilities right now. For the edge customers we work with, one of the big advantages of our software is remote connectivity into all facilities and utilizing one piece of software to monitor all those facilities.

That doesn’t have to be within a specific territory; it can be around the globe too. We have customers who are utilizing our software in Europe and Asia as well as North America. They can bring all of the data into GridVis and can monitor the alarms and see what’s going on around the world.

What can customers do with the data from your software in terms of ESG initiatives?

Andrew Ruef: If you can see your consumption and your power utilization effectiveness (PUE) ratings and things like that, you want to keep an eye on those KPIs, especially when it comes to sustainability. You can even calculate some of your CO2 numbers in the GridVis system and use that data to report on your sustainability efforts. There’s a lot of information you can gather from the data that’s being collected on-site and then use some simple tools that we have available, such as our analysis reporting. [That feeds] the KPI dashboards, and you can utilize all of that information to make the right decisions for your operation.

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