The ability to monitor your server has long been a demand from data centre and server room managers and, as a result, servers like modern desktop PCs are festooned with sensors. From these you can acquire and monitor - with alerts - the temperature and operational efficiency of just about every significant component. If a fan dies or a hard disk starts to show signs of melting, the system wakes up and warns you.
But isn't it about time you started thinking about the need for environmental monitoring? Instead of the server's fans having to work overtime to push already warmed air across the processor modules, with each chip likely as not generating 100W or more of heat, it makes sense to lower the thermal stress on CPUs and other components by lowering the room temperature. Normally this might mean turning the aircon up to full.
However, this may not be enough. All the standard single sensor attached to the air-conditioning system can do is measure the temperature at the point where it's located. Yet it's unlikely to be sited where the servers are, and research shows that the temperature can vary hugely in a single space, especially in an environment like a server room where the airflow is complex. So it makes sense to install sensors or probes on individual racks and, in the case of critical servers and other pieces of equipment, it's probably worth installing sensors for those bits of kit alone. This can give you advance warning of failures of both fans and air-conditioning systems.
What's more, you should be monitoring other environmental factors such as humidity, which can result in corrosion. Humidity shouldn’t be too low though as transistor-killing static electricity can result.
As well as water and current/voltage monitoring, which will be is built into your UPSes, it's also worth checking air-flow, as cool air that hovers in areas away from the fan intakes of your servers is running up cost but doing nothing for your equipment or data safety.
Cameras are crucial. This allows you to install movement sensing software so you can detect unauthorised entry. Even if it is authorised, you should be able to tell post facto what that individual did. In the case of remote offices, having a camera installed means you can walk an individual round the room while they're on the phone and get them to fix any problems.
Pressure mounts to think more and harder about such issues - new legislation, the growth of threats and soon-to-come pressure from insurers who will insist on a watertight business continuity plan. Ensuring your server room fully supports the expensive hardware and invaluable data inside seems more like a good investment than ever.
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