24/7 Monitoring: The eyes and ears of the data center

24/7 Monitoring: The eyes and ears of the data center

Around-the-clock monitoring is essential in the data center.

Data centers are finely tuned facilities. Power usage, environmental conditions and security are just some of the aspects of data center management that need to be monitored on an ongoing basis in order to:

  1. Optimize resource efficiency.
  2. Protect equipment from the ravages of overheating, humidity, condensation and other environmental threats.
  3. Ensure the physical security of the entire data center.

The struggle for data center operators is to do all of this at a reasonable operational expense without cutting corners. For instance, a few wall-mounted thermometers here and there are cheap, but they won't supply detailed enough temperature monitoring. Other hazards such as condensation and water leaks risk permanent destruction of expensive equipment. Conversely, if there isn't enough humidity in the air, electrostatic charges can damage sensitive electronics.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, perpetually staffing the data center with designated teams to monitor power usage, temperature, humidity, security and the many other components of data center integrity would be far too expensive. Not to mention, manual methods are time-consuming, and entirely unnecessary thanks to remote monitoring tools. Let's take a closer look:

The drawbacks of local monitoring 

"Once operators leave, they're basically blind to what's going on in their facilities."

For modest-sized data centers or small server rooms, operators may be able to get away with local monitoring tools. For example, power distributions with graphical displays can indicate how much energy is being used. Likewise, PDUs with hot-swappable intelligence allow for the insertion of temperature and humidity monitoring units. 

The main drawback of local monitoring is that once operators leave the data center, they're basically blind to what's going on inside of their facilities. If not just for peace of mind, the ability to remotely monitor facility assets through a web-based console ensures that conditions are within allowable limits at all times. 

Furthermore, local power monitoring is incredibly inconvenient. Some operators still walk around a facility with a clipboard to log power usage and other metrics based on local meter readings. This method introduces significant margin for error because energy usage fluctuations may occur at different times of the day. 

A 24/7, 360-degree view of a data center isn't easy to achieve through manual monitoring techniques.A 24/7, 360-degree view of a data center isn't easy to achieve through manual monitoring techniques.

Filling in the gaps with remote monitoring

Remote monitoring addresses the problem of being unable to see what's going on in your data center during off hours by aggregating environmental metrics in real time, and then making them available via a web-based dashboard. These include temperature and humidity levels, power usage and even live surveillance feeds that supply an actual view of the facility. Granted, it would still be somewhat inconvenient to task someone with checking on these metrics during the wee hours to make sure nothing is amiss – which is why the second that there's a deviation from an allowable range, the proper staff will be notified via SNMP, SMS or email. 

As for the problem of manual power usage metering, continuous real-time data aggregation makes it easy to have an accurate measure of energy consumption that's based on more than just a few "sneaker reports." 

To learn more about remote environmental and power monitoring, contact Geist today