Home       About Us      Media Coverage      Micro Monitors
 
 
IT WatchDogs’ MicroGoose Temperature & Humidity Monitor Costs Little & Can Save A Lot
 
Complex climate control systems are not usually found in companies with just a few hundred employees. In fact, although the HVAC systems in a data center might have some external controls and sensors, they are rarely tied into servers for temperature monitoring and automatic alerts. IT WatchDogs’ new MicroGoose, a low-cost, Web-enabled indoor climate monitor, is designed to monitor temperature and humidity levels in a server room or data center. The product provides alerts that can be sent to up to five email accounts and up to two SNMP managers. For example, you might send an alert at one user-defined temperature threshold to two people and then send another alert at other escalating temperatures or humidity levels to a different set of recipients. 
 
MicroGoose is part of a product line designed for the SME market. Gerry Cullen, the founder of IT WatchDogs (512/257-1462; www.itwatchdogs.com), created the product line when he was working in Houston during a cold weather spell. One Friday afternoon, employees at his place of work thought it would be a good idea to raise the thermostat’s temperature setting because it was getting cold, but forgot to lower the setting when they left for the day. The weather turned warm and the heat kept rising during the entire weekend, and it ended up costing the company about $100,000 in damages to servers and other equipment in the server room. Cullen realized there was a place for low-cost climate monitoring and alert equipment and eventually formed IT WatchDogs. 

The original product, the WeatherDuck, is a palm-sized device that must be attached to a PC to operate but provides the same monitoring and alert features. The WeatherGoose and SuperGoose are next-generation products with embedded Web servers that IT managers install into server racks to monitor environmental variables using sensors built into the device that monitor such conditions as temperature, humidity, light, sound, and airflow, as well as a wide variety of optional remote sensors (water sensors, smoke detectors, door switches, electrical power monitors) that can be plugged in. 
 
MicroGoose & The SME 
 
As the latest product in IT WatchDogs' lineup, the MicroGoose is an entry-level product designed for smaller companies. To keep the price low, it only monitors temperature and humidity and does not use remote sensors. Instead, it is designed to monitor just one area in a small data center or server room. The MicroGoose, which is about the size of a candy bar, can be installed almost anywhere—above the rack in the ceiling, near racks, or on a 1U faceplate in the rack itself. Additionally, the MicroGoose is capable of running on PoE (Power over Ethernet) so data center managers do not need to run a power cable to the device.
 
MicroGoose is a good fit for an SME because of its low price ($199) and because it does not require a complex climate monitoring infrastructure like those found in larger enterprises; instead, managers can view reports over a Web browser and receive email alerts if conditions worsen. The product is also ideal for larger data centers because it supports SNMP and can communicate with SNMP managers commonly used in data center monitoring. The MicroGoose supports SNMP v1, v2c, and v3 with security features such as commercial-grade authentication and encryption. 

“Our target audience for MicroGoose is more server room-oriented than data center-oriented,” says Charlie Mayne, IT WatchDogs’ president, who took over for Gerry Cullen following Cullen’s retirement last year. “The thing that makes the product good for smaller installs is that our devices are standalone—they can serve up Web pages and send email alarms when temperature or humidity measurements are over user-defined limits. You don’t need custom software running on a computer anywhere. You can receive the email alerts on your standard email reader or have them directed to your cell phone You can access the device with a standard Web browser (such as Firefox or Internet Explorer) to monitor the status and set threshold limits. One of the Web pages shows a historical graph of the measurements being logged so you can see trends.” 

As with the larger members of the product family, the MicroGoose can be configured with optional Web cams for remote monitoring of data centers. The camera images are displayed on the Web pages. 

Mayne says the MicroGoose, like the entire family of climate monitor products, uses nonvolatile memory, so settings on the device and measurement history logs will not be lost in the event of a power failure. The product is designed for “lights-out operation” so that a limited IT staff does not have to monitor the device or the server room temperatures, which is helpful for smaller data centers in which the staff is not always onsite after hours or over weekends, when heat and humidity problems can sometimes arise. 
  IT WatchDogs MicroGoose 
(512) 257-1462 
www.itwatchdogs.com 

Description: The MicroGoose is a temperature and humidity monitoring device designed for server rooms or small data centers that offers a simple Web interface for monitoring and sends email alerts and SNMP traps when conditions reach a user-defined threshold. 

Interesting Fact: In addition to the MicroGoose, IT WatchDogs’ flock of environmental monitoring devices includes the SuperGoose, the WeatherDuck, the WeatherGoose, the PowerGoose, the MiniGoose, and the
MiniGoose 2. 
 
“Small companies very often do not have climate monitoring systems because they can be relatively expensive,” says Mayne. “Large, enterprise-level data centers have very sophisticated air-conditioning systems that monitor the room for climate changes. Enterprise-level climate systems are on UPS backup systems and generators, but your typical office server rooms and even smaller data centers do not have those options, so as the heat builds up, there is no way of knowing. As the room gets hotter, there will be physical damage to the servers and other equipment, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and is also very disruptive to business operations.” 

The MicroGoose provides flexibility because the unit’s small size and PoE capability allow it to be installed almost anywhere. As a data center grows, Mayne says, IT managers can install products from the IT WatchDogs family that use remote sensors to let managers measure a much wider variety of climate conditions and monitor many points within several hundred feet of each climate monitor host. 
 
Latest Features 
 
Mayne says the MicroGoose uses IT WatchDogs’ most recent generation of Web server hardware to provide the best functionality possible. The Web-based access for reporting and graphs to see heat and humidity levels and trends is accessible by either standard HTTP or the more secure HTTPS protocol. The user can download historical log data in CSV (Comma Separated Values, for importing into spreadsheets or databases) from the MicroGoose over the Internet. 

Mayne says that with the next product offering, IT WatchDogs will include contact closure relays tied to the alarm system, so external devices such as strobe lights, sirens, telephone voice dialers, pumps, and auxiliary cooling systems can be activated automatically. Wireless remote sensors, Wi-Fi access, and cell phone modems are also on the horizon.
 
by John Brandon