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Taking A Look At The Latest In Environmental Monitoring
It isn’t virtual take downs, such as distributed DoS attacks, or natural disasters, such as hurricanes, that often take a data center offline. Environmental factors, such as HVAC loss and power fluctuations, can quickly lead to critical equipment failure. Even more frustrating than outright breakdown, elusive intermittent glitches can plague hardware after exposure to environmental elements slightly above an acceptable thresholdhumidity instead of flooding, an overheated rack vs. fire.

Regardless of the cause, downtime can rapidly add up to significant losses. The Meta Group puts an average price tag of $1 million per hour when companies go offline, and for industries such as energy and telecom, that figure can more than double.

ATEN Guardian Over the NET

A highly scalable solution that allows users to monitor and control environmental conditions, including remote locations, using the enterprise network

“The world is divided into two groupsthose who have suffered a meltdown, and those who haven’t,” says Gerry Cullen, president of IT Watchdogs (, a manufacturer of environmental monitoring solutions. Cullen began the company after he experienced an overheated server room that destroyed close to $150,000 of equipment and took six weeks to bring back online.

While environmental monitoring systems serving data centers have been around many years, the growing trend has been to integrate sensors and alerting into IP-based networks. “The traditional physical security industry is converging information technology and IT security, creating value and innovation in the world of doors, locks, and video surveillance,” says Steve Hunt, founder of 4A International ( consulting firm and former analyst at Forrester Research and Giga Information Group. Hunt estimates that the convergence of physical and logical security will create a market exceeding $22 billion by 2010. “By moving alarms, alerts, video images, and security data more efficiently across shared networks, organizations can benefit from lower costs of operation, more value, and greater security,” he says.

No Host Needed

Avtech Room Alert 11E


Offers extensive real-time monitoring, including power, temperature, and humidity; can be deployed without a host system and accessed via either a built-in Web server or included software package

As environmental monitoring equipment has entered the digital age, solutions are designing systems with onboard Web servers, so sensor data can be accessed via Web browser instead of through a dedicated host machine or software client. The distinct advantage of this model is that monitoring data can be accessed from any location on the network, making an excellent choice for monitoring remote and unmanned locations. It also lends to more affordable and dependable solutions as there is less electronic equipment needed.

The SuperGoose (WxGoos-2) from IT Watchdogs is a standalone, rack-mounted climate monitoring system with internal temperature, humidity, airflow, light, and sound sensors, along with inputs for a door positions switch and Web camera. Additionally, up to 16 remote sensors can be added using RJ-11 (standard telephone) connectors to monitor conditions in other racks.

SuperGoose is managed through a browser interface and supports several protocols (HTTP, SMTP/POP, PDA display, WAP, XML, and Excel) for monitoring and alerts. Firmware upgrades are delivered via FTP. Users can also be instantly alerted by an audible warning horn.

Geist RacSense RCM Series

Provides comprehensive remote power management in addition to environmental sensing of light, air, sound, humidity, and temperature

Cullen has witnessed IT Watchdogs grow 20 to 25% annually. He attributes the growth to the competitive pricing of his products, “Our goal was to make the product so inexpensive that IT managers don’t think twice about making a purchase.”

The Avtech Room Alert 11E is an Ethernet-ready appliance, which is equipped with an external temperature/humidity sensor, temperature-only sensor, an external power sensor, and eight built-in contacts for additional sensors such as water, smoke, airflow, motion, and contact.

Alerts can be sent to any mobile device as well as to network monitoring systems such as Tivoli (, OpenView (, and Unicenter (

Room Alert can be managed through either a browser interface or the included PageR Enterprise software that lets users manage multiple Room Alert boxes and log real-time data to be used later for trending and reports. The unit is available in a standard and rack-mounted form factor.

IT Watchdogs SuperGoose


Includes a full set of sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, airflow, light, and door position along with support for Web-based cameras in a compact, rack-mounted unit

Uptime Devices created the first SNMP-based environmental monitoring devices nearly 10 years ago, and today its SensorHubs continue to bridge the gap between physical environments and the network without the need for any additional software or interface other than a Web browser, through which users can easily set four individual thresholds per each of the two sensors on the hub. The units support DHCP and HTTP.

In addition to comprehensive SNMP capabilities (traps and polling), alerts can be delivered through email and SMS. The SensorHubs are fully secured through password protection and encryption.

The SensorHub interface also provides graphing of collected data, so administrators can quickly spot potential problems and identify trends, so environmental controls can be adjusted accordingly.

Power Control & More

Aten’s Guardian Over the NET (GN0116) supplies comprehensive remote environmental monitoring and management via TCP/IP. A highly scalable solution, up to 255 stations can be daisy-chained together along with extensive power monitoring and control. Each unit includes eight AC power outlets and cords, four power source connectors, RS-45 LAN jack, RS-485 input and output jacks, two temperature sensor inputs, and digital and analog inputs.

RLE Technologies Falcon FMS


An enterprise-class environmental monitoring solution offering up to 104 inputs and 34 outputs for live data feeds including video, temperature, and humidity along with extensive alarm notification features.

Configuration and administration is maintained through a browser-based interface offering individualized port control for environmental threshold settings, such as temperature, humidity, voltage, etc. With multiuser access (one admin, four users), more eyes can be keeping a watch on critical systems. The GN-116 also ships with a Serial Server Console (Windows only) in addition to the Web GUI.

The RacSense RCM series power distribution unit is the latest from Geist Manufacturing for remote power and environmental monitoring. Besides power monitoring, the PDU includes two RJ-11 jacks for external sensors.

Uptime Devices SensorHub SH-2+I


Small form factor monitoring device that ships with two sensor portsone for the included temperature/humidity sensor and the other for additional sensors such as airflow, flood, contact, voltage, etc.

For management and alerting, the Ethernet port offers access to a multitude of protocols and applications, including DHCP, HTTP, HTTPS (SSL/TLS), ICMP, TCP/IP, SMTP/POP3, HTML, SNMP, CSV, text, Telnet, WAP, PDA-formatted HTML, and XML.

In the latest firmware upgrade, RacSense has added support for DNS names, control via PDA, support for D-Link DCS-6620 wireless IP camera, and added Telnet functionalities.

Extended Management

RLE’s Falcon FMS includes extensive support for video monitoring along with physical and environmental conditions. Recognizing the growing requisites for environmental monitoring controls to be integrated into third-party network management systems, RLE has partnered with IBM Tivoli and Ipswitch WhatsUp Professional 2006 (, so users can centrally manage all Falcon devices on the network. In the event of a network failure, the Falcon includes an internal modem that can transmit alerts via standard telephone lines.

Supporting up to 104 sensor inputs, RLE offers a variety of sensors, including temperature/humidity; gas detectors for volatiles, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, refrigerants, heating gases, etc.; current/ voltage transducers; smoke detectors; power failure; motion; and door. Up to 34 output channels provide control for keypads and power supplies to additional equipment. Each Falcon appliance also supports up to 10 IP-based video cameras.

RLE also offers the Falcon Lite for smaller installations.

Ultimately, through the emergence of improved environmental monitoring technologies, users will be able to improve operations, cut costs, and decrease downtime.

by Sandra Kay Miller