In many data centers and computer room mistakes are made in not monitoring effectively. This can lead to expensive equipment failures and downtime. Implementing an effective monitoring solution will ensure business continuity and can account for only a small fraction of the total cabinet purchase and running costs.
Rack and cabinet monitoring
Of particular importance is measuring temperature and humidity within the cabinet. High-end server and rack-mounted equipment will have their own auto shutdown to safely turn off equipment and protect it from catastrophic failures due to high temperatures. This is however an emergency shut down and should not be relied upon. There is still risk of component damage, computational errors and stress to the cooling fans. Shutdowns also result in business continuity losses. AKCP recommend a minimum of 3 temperature sensors per rack positioned at the bottom front of the rack, top front of the rack and one finally at the top rear.
Bottom front temperature sensor
This sensor is positioned to check the temperature of the cold air that is being delivered to the rack. The intake air temperature should be 18° – 27°C.
Top front temperature sensor
Here we can monitor and check to verify that the cold air being delivered is finding it’s way to the top of the rack.
Top rear temperature sensor
The top rear of the rack is typically the warmest position. Monitoring here is recommended to ensure the maximum temperature of the rack equipment is not exceeded. This should not typically exceed 20° – 35°C.
In addition to temperature sensors, humidity and airflow are important aspects to be monitored. Insufficient airflow can indicate failure of fans and cooling systems. This failure, accompanied with rising temperatures can lead to system failures. Failure of a single cooling fan may not result in complete catastrophe, but will increase the load on other cooling system, that can affect longevity and maintenance. Airflow sensors can be positioned in the same location as the temperature sensors to check the flow of air around the rack, and at the openings of cooling ducts and fans.
Humidity is also an important factor. Too much humidity and it can lead to corrosion of electronics due to the airs moisture content. Too little humidity and a build up of static electricity can cause electrical sparks that damage sensitive components.
Air conditioning systems
Computer rooms are equipped with air conditioning and cooling equipment not only for racks but for the ambient room temperature as well. It is important to ensure they are cooling effectively and efficiently and detect early failures in the system. Should one unit fail the effect will be compensated for by other cooling equipment. This however leads to increased load on the other systems which can lead to a total failure due to overloading. Therefore it is recommended by AKCP to place temperature and airflow sensors on every air-conditioning unit, not just for the ambient room temperature.
If the computer room utilizes the “cold corridor” cooling strategy to lower energy costs, the temperatures outside of these cold corridors can reach much higher levels, 37°C+ is not uncommon. In these instances it is of increased importance to monitor each air-conditioning unit, as a single failure will have a much faster impact on the ambient temperature and abilities to effectively cool equipment.
Energy savings can also be made by combining temperature and humidity monitoring with sensor controlled relays. This allows cooling systems and fans to be switched on and off based on the sensors status.
Flood monitoring with water sensors
Server rooms and data centers usually contained raised floors underneath which cable trays are run. This means it is possible for water leaks to go unnoticed and cause severe damage to the infrastructure beneath the raised flooring. By the time systems begin to fail it’s already too late. Rope water sensors and spot water sensors can be deployed underneath raised flooring to detect the presence of even a small amount of moisture and alert you. This allows action to be taken immediately before water damage becomes too severe saving potential disaster, costly repairs and downtime.
Water in a server room usually comes from leaking air conditioning systems, leaks from the ceiling above the room or water pipes that run through the server room. Therefore it is recommended to either place spot water sensors beneath air conditioning units and at strategic points water leaks are likely to come from, or snaking a rope water sensing cable around the room beneath the false floor.
AKCP Monitoring Solution
AKCP provides a complete computer room monitoring system tailored for computer rooms, data centers and rack mounted equipment. A range of intelligent base units provide everything from a simple 2 port SNMP, TCP/IP monitoring device, to 8 sensor ports, Modbus, video surveillance and room or cabinet level access control. A complete range of sensors, extensive notifications suite and central management software completes the solution.