Server Room Monitoring: How it can help you

Server room monitoring is really important if you do not want to risk the costs related to IT downtime, which could severely hit your business. Since our acquisition by Worcestershire-based Ecl-ips we have gained expertise in real-time monitoring and this enables us to support organisations in south-west England to take steps which will help with business continuity.

Avoid expensive downtime: Our engineers can advise

Businesses and other organisations such as schools and healthcare settings require effective real-time monitoring systems to make sure that all of the support systems are running efficiently. Early warnings of potential issues are essential to ensure that the business can operate both efficiently and effectively. Otherwise, when you realise you have a problem you may already been hit with IT downtime that could cost you lost revenue and new business.

Organisations increasingly focus on the risk of cyber-attacks server rooms are also vulnerable from physical threats. There could be issues with equipment failure, such as overheating, or external factors such as a water leak that might cause IT devices to shut down. This is likely to result in loss of data or at least loss of time which means for most businesses means a loss of money.

Security Group engineers have been to various sites to install security devices and have spotted when IT spaces are not being monitored as well as they should be and then can demonstrate the value that server room monitoring will provide. We have expertise in APC Netbotz appliances and Schneider Electric’s StruxureWare Data Center Expert software which can be used to manage your devices and provides a single platform to view the real-time monitoring information and to take action in response to this if required.

The importance of maintaining good server room conditions:

Research has found the most common causes of ICT downtime are failures of equipment, which includes software and third-party failures; power outages and human error. Human or accidental error caused outages in 22% of cases according to Schneider Electric.

Maintaining proper server room conditions relies on a number of different variables which include:

  • Ensuring proper ventilation for cold air intake and hot air return
  • Humidity of the room
  • Verifying that proper airflow and temperature is circulating through your data racks

To guard against human error effective access control measures and surveillance cameras can be installed.

IT spaces: The need for an efficient air conditioning unit

The IT equipment in server/comms rooms work best if they are kept at a constant temperature. Ideally you should set the temperature so that the air conditioning units are not working too hard to retain that temperature.

In an inefficient system the air conditioning unit is likely to be switching on and off constantly as it works to maintain a temperature but if the system is working efficiently, you save the energy as the air conditioning units can have a higher set point. By monitoring temperature, you will be able to manage your energy use and boost your energy efficiency, which will save you money over time.

A faulty air conditioning unit can also be a cause of too much humidity, which could result in condensation and in water dripping onto your hardware. To monitor these kinds of problems there are humidity sensors and leak rope sensors which provide early detection of fluid in your server room.

Conversely if the air in the server room becomes too dry there is a high risk of electrostatic discharge (ESD). Sometimes the heat generated can be so intense that extremely small plastic parts in sensitive electronic devices can melt, leading to a much shorter useful life. Again, this emphasises the need for a range of sensors to monitor the physical environment.

Monitoring solutions from Schneider Electric and APC

The APC NetBotz appliances can operate independently or as part of an enterprise management solution. With the installation of monitoring products, the IT staff can monitor the computer room, whether at their desk or working from home. Units can also be configured to alert technical support staff of potential issues via email, SMS or via SNMP. You can group the Netbotz appliances together and offer a completely scalable solution.

Schneider Electric’s StruxureWare Data Center Expert software is installed through a web browser and so is easy to set up and use. You can find out more about the APC NetBotz appliances on the Ecl-ips website. Those we would recommend, include:

  • The APC Netbotz 250 rack monitor: This provides a comprehensive monitoring solution for both environmental factors such as leaking, overheating and fire or smoke as well as access control risks. When you purchase the Netbotz 250 temperature and humidity sensors are included and you can have up to six sensors, for other factors such as fluid, directly into the appliance. If you also want to protect against human error or deliberate human interference you can purchase APC Netbotz rack access handle kits, which will provide you with an audit trail about who is accessing the enclosures.
  • APC NetBotz Rack Monitor 750: This is the first of the V5 Netbotz appliances providing integrated surveillance, sensing, access control, and advanced alerting for IT environments of all sizes, from single-rack edge networks to large data centres. The Netbotz 750 includes an integrated suite of sensors, access control pods, and the HD Camera Pod 165. The NetBotz Camera Pod 165 is an IP-based, power-over-ethernet (POE) camera managed by a NetBotz Rack Monitor 750, either plugged directly into the rack monitor’s private switch or discovered over the network to aid intrusion detection and help maintain compliance.

Server room audits: improving your monitoring

We can provide a full server room audit if:

  • You are unsure what server room monitoring appliances or sensors you need;
  • You want to ensure that your existing monitoring infrastructure is meeting your current needs;
  • Or you need advice on how to store your IT appliances correctly

Our experienced highly qualified engineers will attend your site to carry out the thorough inspection to ensure that you have the right monitoring systems for your business.

What will the audit cover?

  • What security you currently have in place
  • Whether you have any fire detection in place
  • What fire fighting equipment is available
  • Hardware installed including switches, servers and storage devices
  • The peak electrical load required by the equipment installed
  • Checking the age and capacity of your existing UPS equipment
  • The condition of your comms room
  • The temperature of your comms room
  • Air conditioning equipment
  • If any Power Monitoring is installed

Following the visit we will provide a full written report including:

  • A diagram of the room layout
  • An outline of our findings, supported by photographs
  • Recommendations on where we can see any improvements that can be made

The engineers can spot where organisations are making mistakes that could mean their IT networks are not going to be as efficient as they could be. For example, a server or a critical switch, may have been located in a cupboard that has become used for other purposes, creating a sub-optimal environment.

If you need server room monitoring support contact us

If you are based in Bristol or across south-west England and want advice on how to monitor your server room effectively, or to book a thorough server room audit, please get in touch.