Data center management: What, why and how to monitor

Data center management: What, why and how to monitor

How do you keep your data center running?

The moving parts of the data center are like the pieces to a complicated puzzle. In order to make sure all of these pieces are working properly and fit together, it's crucial for data center managers to keep up with every measurement and metric they can. And, as server rooms become more advanced and complicated with the advent of new cooling technologies and other tools, it's doubly important to ensure all the parts are in working order.

This is where efficient monitoring solutions come in. By keeping an eye on these moving parts and making sure power use, temperature and humidity all fall within acceptable ranges, managers can improve server uptime. TechTarget noted that by reporting on fluctuations within the computing facility, effective monitoring can alert administrators of potential problems before they occur.

Let's take an in-depth look at where monitoring can be useful and how to get the most out of these kinds of tools:

1. Power

Measuring power usage is probably one of the most important parts of managing the data center. Power usage effectiveness is a measurement of how much energy is being utilized by server equipment and other functions divided by the amount of power coming into the facility. The closer this number gets to 1, the better a data center is at not wasting energy.

According to the Uptime Institute's 2014 Data Center Industry Survey, the average PUE of the largest facilities of industry leaders was 1.7 in 2014. This is an improvement from the 1.89 reported in 2011, which was in turn a step up from 2007's number of 2.50. The steadily improving PUE measurement indicates that companies are continuing to put stock in the importance of being energy efficient.

Power monitoring is one way to keep up with PUE in the data center and make sure the facility isn't wasting energy. And, as efficiency becomes even more important with the rising costs of electricity, it's crucial to have an accurate readout of power usage. Reliable power distribution units with monitoring capabilities can give IT managers real-time information about current power usage so they can modify equipment if necessary.

2. Temperature and humidity

When it comes to climate control in the data center, a "just right" approach is best. According to guidelines regulated by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers, the temperature within the data center should remain between 59 degrees Fahrenheit and 89.6 degrees F. This helps to ensure that server equipment doesn't get too hot, resulting in a greater potential for fire or machine malfunction due to overheating. In addition, relative humidity should stay between 20 and 80 percent.

How can monitoring help here? By making sure the temperature and humidity are within acceptable ranges, data center managers can help enhance energy efficiency and also prevent potential outages before they occur. For instance, if the temperature rises one degree, it may not seem like anything to worry about. However, if the temperature keeps rising, this can become an issue that could lead to overheated servers and unexpected downtime. Monitoring tools help protect against outages.

Putting the puzzle together

When IT departments invest in efficient monitoring solutions like the ones from Geist, they can ensure their facilities are in good shape as far as the computing equipment, power, temperature and humidity are concerned. For instance, a climate monitor like the Watchdog 15 would allow managers to monitor the atmospheric conditions of the data center and make sure it isn't too hot or too cold, or too wet or dry. This helps ensure continuity of the computing facility and keeps equipment functioning at optimal capacity - meaning outages are kept to a minimum and customers are satisfied.