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IT WatchDogs’ Flock Of Monitoring Devices Keep An Eye On Your Environment

The SuperGoose features a built-in LCD for easy monitoring.
  The data center or server room houses an organization’s memory and nervous system, and there are many threats to its integrity—cooling failures, water leaks, sustained and too-high levels of noise, or unauthorized entry, to name a few. What’s more, specific conditions in other types of equipment rooms can threaten data in unpredictable ways. It all makes an extra set of digital eyes and ears, which keep track of conditions when humans aren’t around, a desirable alternative. 
The most common condition that IT managers want to monitor is temperature. Companies spend a lot of money to keep their mission-critical IT equipment, such as servers and switches, from overheating. That’s because although the cost of cooling is a large line item, it’s nothing compared to having to replace those servers or switches. 

Rather than assume that everything’s fine in the data center, companies install environmental monitoring systems to make sure that the temperature remains within a healthy range for equipment to keep operating. That was the driving force behind IT WatchDogs’ WeatherGoose line of environmental monitors. 
WeatherGoose & More 
IT WatchDogs (512/257-1462; launched its WeatherGoose line of environmental monitors in 2004 with the release of the WeatherGoose, a monitor with an internal Web server and Ethernet port so that sensor data can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection. It has built-in sensors for temperature, light, airflow, sound, and humidity and includes three analog ports to add other sensors for a full capacity of 16. Other sensors might monitor smoke, door access, or other conditions. 

The WeatherGoose ($399) installs in a 19-inch 1U rackmount panel. A crossover cable connects the monitor to a PC on the local network through an RJ-45 port, and users access a simple Web interface to assign the monitor an IP address and set thresholds for sensors and alarm types. 

Since 2004, IT WatchDogs has released several more models in the same line. The SuperGoose ($499) came out in 2005. It has the same features as the WeatherGoose, but it also has an LCD screen, audio alarm, and built-in rack plate. 

For in-cabinet installations with limited space, the MiniGoose ($199), released in 2006, has the same features as the WeatherGoose but is housed in a small metal box. Like the WeatherGoose, it supports up to 16 sensors, but it only has one internal sensor for temperature. The MiniGoose 2 has 16 external sensor jacks and three input/output ports. 

The latest in this line, the MicroGoose ($199), is for the simplest monitoring tasks; it has temperature and humidity sensors built in, as well as Power over Ethernet. 
The Market For Monitors 
There are other lines of environmental monitors on the market, but Pepe Ramos, sales and operations manager for IT WatchDogs, says that the WeatherGoose line has two advantages over others: price and support. “Our monitors’ price points are less than those of competitors that are doing the same thing, and some [competitors’ offerings] are even twice the price,” says Ramos. “But maybe even more importantly, our tech support people are the same programmers and engineers who designed our monitors in the first place. When customers call to get support, they’re not talking to some guy in India who’s reading from a script; they’re talking to the people who maintain and write the code.” 

Ramos also touts the monitors' track record of reliability. "Over the years, we've probably had over 20,000 devices deployed, and we’ve never had a report of one of them failing to report a problem when there was a problem,” he says. “It’s only been when the device was set up wrongly or when the alarms went off but nobody paid attention.” 

Ramos suggests that there are many more uses for environmental monitors than the usual temperature/humidity/power trinity. For example, one customer is a researcher at Emory University in Atlanta who is studying the mating behavior of certain animals. She uses a monitor with a light sensor because the lights in the room where the animals are caged were frequently turned off, which interfered with her research. Another client, a national billboard company, uses a MiniGoose with a sensor that monitors city power and another that alerts the company when a small access door on its billboards is opened. 

There are many uses for WeatherGoose monitors, Ramos says, but the main one is consistent. “Whatever the condition you’re monitoring, if it could threaten your data or operations, a WeatherGoose monitor is an inexpensive insurance policy,” he says. 
by Holly Dolezalek