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Monitoring system points in a Server Room application

Ways of choosing a monitoring system used in data center environments

If you have servers running applications and services for your business, you need to know what is going on in that room. Choosing a monitoring system for the Data Center or Server Room is critical. Whether you have a data closet, small to medium server room, or a large data center, you need to be in the know of your mission-critical environment. We do a breakdown of some key points on where to start monitoring, so you can avoid spending too much capital out of the gate. There are cost-effective solutions on the market for server room monitoring systems, depending on the size of your application. ASHRAE TC9.9 is an excellent white paper you can reference for details on guidelines and best practices.

Temperature data for your monitoring system is key to being proactive.

Temperature Monitoring is the most critical system to have in place when maintaining a server environment. To emphasize, if your room starts getting too hot, you can destroy your server hardware. Be proactive, knowing the typical temperatures in specific areas of the room. Setting a proper threshold gives you time to react before catastrophic damage happens.

  • Do not wait till you get the critical alarm from the field device
  • IT gear design allows it to run at a cooler temperature than Power and Cooling equipment (OT Devices)
  • Monitor the cool air intake of the server cabinet
  • Depending on the age of your hardware, 77° F (25°C) is a great starting point
  • ASHRAE TC9.9 shows the recommended temperatures since 2004
  • Have a sensor on the hot side of the cabinet(s), so you know the average output
  • Use warning thresholds for high and low settings at 7 degrees from the critical limit

Alarm contacts from hardware make your monitoring system a better alerting tool.

I have always considered this the first and foremost important alarm point. If the network does down, you do not lose the alarm signal from your field devices. The monitoring platform can drive an output signal (relay output) to an annunciator panel or other visual/audible device to alert staff.

  • The alarm contacts are also known as dry-contact or wet-contact
  • These contacts change position on an alarm event
  • Some devices may have multiple discrete contacts (specific alarms)
  • When the alarm activates, personnel can react and go to that device
  • Motion sensors, door sensors, fire alarm sensors, and power failure relays are other devices with dry contacts

Keep a view on that critical space for remote monitoring.

Having security monitoring in place with a camera(s), motions sensors, and door position sensors makes your remote monitoring system a better tool. Indeed doing this lets you see what’s going on, especially when not there. When connecting an Access Control system to your security system gives you the ability to have better control of that environment.

  • Install a security camera(s) to monitor the space
  • Some cameras have onboard storage to save the video (SD Card)
  • Depending on the camera model, motion detection might be an available option
  • A dry-contact input can trigger the camera to take pictures

Water leaks can cause an unexpected outage with high repair costs

Another critical point is that leak detection used in environments with servers and power protects your investment.

  • Whenever you have water sources below, above, or around the room
  • Small areas can use spot sensors for sloped collection points
  • Distance read controllers for raised floors, piping, and difficult to see areas
  • Mold damage affects your air quality which can impact your staff

Optimize the cooling so you are not going too high or too low.

To point out, overrunning your cooling costs more money in power usage and shortens the life of your equipment.

  • With data from your monitoring system, you can be aware of the temperature and balance of the room
  • Design the system to draft the hot air to the intake of the cooling system
  • You can reduce energy costs by not overrunning the equipment
  • More extensive systems using Building Automation Controls can reduce water usage and fan speed

Better level of information from devices with protocol data

When applicable, using protocol data from field devices gives more granular data. Modbus, BACnet, and SNMP are standard open protocols.

  • SNMP protocol is standard with rack-level devices such as intelligent Rack PDUs, Rackmount UPS, and Rack ATS units
  • Telecommunication applications commonly use SNMP with Inverters
  • BACnet is standard with mechanical or HVAC devices such as Chillers, CRAC/CRAH, and RTUs
  • Modbus protocol with electrical devices like Generators, Switchboards/Switchgear, Power Meters, Busways, and Branch Circuit Monitoring

Monitoring system for power efficiency and proactive alerts

For one thing, saving power saves your organization money. Next, you can ensure your power distribution is balanced for redundant operation.

  • To keep everything running, you need to know you have redundancy
  • Controlling power consumption to system capacity reduces overloads
  • Metering on the building load and IT load shows how efficient you are operating (PUE)
  • At the same time, monitoring to the rack level ensures a balance of the load
  • Rack level monitoring with smart-rack PDUs
  • Feeding panels using Branch Circuit Monitoring gets you data for those cabinet/rack circuits

The temperature efficiency drives the need for your cooling. A data closet or small room with limited access/foot traffic removes the increased demand for security measures. A more extensive system has to keep the hardware running 24/7/365. Small applications can use dedicated widgets or IoT devices to keep you in the know. Mid-scale operations need a better level of detail with their monitoring systems. Given these points, large applications have multiple devices to maintain the mission-critical function. We understand that not all facilities are the same when considering the electrical design and equipment used. If you have an application, you would like to discuss, please feel free to reach out to us at FMS Integration LLC. We would be glad to talk to you about the options available for your Monitoring System needs.