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Eaton Introduces Remote Power Device Management Tool for SMBs

The new Visual Power Manager Essential is designed to give organizations with limited IT resources and up to 1,000 UPSs or PDUs to administer an easier to install and operate alternative to the original, enterprise-oriented edition of the program. By Rich Freeman

Eaton’s power quality division has rolled out an edition of its Visual Power Manager (VPM) remote administration tool for SMBs. 

Available now, the new VPM Essential is designed to provide organizations with limited IT resources that have 1,000 or fewer uninterruptable power systems (UPSs) and power distribution units (PDUs) to manage an easier to install and operate alternative to the original edition of VPM, which has been renamed VPM Professional.

“It’s giving you everything that a user would need from a monitoring and control platform in a very simple to use application,” says Eaton Product Manager Mike Jackson.

Many smaller customers have requested such an option, he continues. “We got a lot of feedback from end users and partners that they love VPM, they love what it can do, but at the same time it could be a bit of an undertaking, especially for a small partner or a smaller customer, to really take on.”

VPM Essential, by contrast, features a wizard-driven installation process that automatically discovers power devices across a distributed network. “It’s easy to set up,” Jackson says. “You’re inputting a couple of IP addresses, selecting a couple of settings, and then the rest happens on the back end automatically.”

Equipped with a simplified HTML 5 user interface, VPM Essential comes with most of the same core functionality as VPM Professional, including bulk firmware upgrades, node-settings configuration tools, customized alarms, support for third-party power hardware, and trending and analytics capabilities. 

Users can shut off and restart individual power outlets remotely as well should a device require re-booting. Like the system’s remote deployment capabilities, that functionality has become important recently for organizations that can no longer manage UPS and PDU devices in person due to safety concerns and stay-at-home orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nobody ever has to actually physically be at the server or the equipment,” Jackson notes. “Given the current situation, remote capabilities are becoming more and more essential.”

The biggest feature in the Professional edition of VPM not also found in the Essential version, according to Jackson, is the ability to do location-based navigation of power products. “You don’t get the map view,” he says. The tradeoff, he adds, is that you also don’t have to go through the labor-intensive process of defining locations in the system, establishing floor plans, and assigning managed devices to specific racks.

Introduced in 2016, VPM was originally designed chiefly for organizations like national retail chains that have as many as 500,000 power systems at widely-dispersed sites. VPM Essential, by contrast, targets regional merchants, modestly-sized universities, and other users that have network closets in dozens rather than hundreds or thousands of places.

VPM Essential is available only at subscription-priced rates that according to Jackson are a little less than the cost of comparable VPM Professional licenses. 

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