Server room monitoring essential for effective IT deployments
Wednesday, Jun 19th 2013

Regardless of the size of a company's data center, server room monitoring plays a critical role when it comes to effective IT deployments. Energy management company Schneider Electric recently discussed infrastructure best practices for IT deployments conducted in smaller server rooms, according to Standard Digital Reporter. The company noted that the majority of server rooms for small businesses are particularly space constrained, sharing common problems with organization, security, monitoring and heat density. While many data center managers at smaller businesses are already overloaded with work and are unable to spend time researching infrastructure best practices, there are numerous ways these less than ideal server room conditions can be improved to help businesses reduce energy costs and prevent disruption or downtime.

The biggest areas where following best practices can have the most significant impact include power provisioning, effective rack use, security, lighting, cooling systems and data center monitoring, according to the source. Most of these areas relate to one another and are influenced by temperature variances produced by active equipment. The human component of IT work should also be considered.

"While the human element is an integral part of IT operations, we have seen that staff members are often responsible for much of the IT downtime through accidents and mistakes," said Samuel Nelson, East Africa enterprise and systems account manager for Schneider Electric. "With servers and other IT deployments becoming increasingly mission critical, locking a server room and limiting access is essential. In some cases, the installation of security cameras, equipped with additional temperature and humidity monitoring capabilities, are also recommended."

Altering cooling strategies to better monitor server room temperature
According to Schneider Electric, recommended IT equipment temperatures are between 18 and 27 degrees Celsius, but  this can be stretched to 15 to 32 degrees Celsius. Since servers produce heat while in operation, server rooms that are not properly ventilated or do not have proper environmental control systems in place can reach dangerous temperature levels.

There are many different cooling systems and strategies that are implemented in modern data centers, but certain approaches may be more ideal for particular server room designs. Nelson recommended considering IT equipment locations when selecting the best cooling method. Portable cooling systems are one type that was recently discussed by Sustainable? Plant contributor Buddy Phillips. While much data center infrastructure will incorporate cooling systems directly into the design, portable air conditioners can serve an important role, particularly in emergency situations when monitoring reveals dangerously high heat densities that need to be resolved in a pinch to avoid system degradation.

Datacenter Dynamics contributor Penny Jones also recently highlighted liquid cooling strategies, noting that thus far it has mainly been used as a means of boosting computing capabilities in important research laboratories across the globe. Jones emphasized that this technology is now reaching maturity and is being increasingly implemented to facilitate the demands of large cloud operations.

Regardless of the cooling system utilized, data center managers will need to engage in proactive data center temperature monitoring to ensure that their systems continue to function effectively. This emphasizes the importance of maintaining visibility in the data center environment, as servers and other IT equipment can malfunction when exposed to improper conditions.