Guide To Data Centre Monitoring

Discover more about monitoring solutions used in Data Centres

EDP Europe is a leading provider of monitoring solutions for use in Data Centres, Comms Rooms and IT environments.

Data Centre monitoring plays a vital role in proactively managing the Data Centre environment, helping organisations improve Data Centre efficiency by identifying potential or actual problematic areas that could cause issues with airflow management, as well as identifying other threats that can be harmful to IT equipment and its performance.

This Data Centre monitoring guide will help provide some insight into the types of monitoring found within the Data Centre and other IT environments.

What forms of Data Centre monitoring are there?

Data Centre monitoring comes in various forms and can be utilised to varying extents within the Data Centre. There’s monitoring the IT equipment such as servers and making sure they are operating correctly. Power monitoring enables better power management and identifies how much electricity IT equipment is using as well as being vital in understanding how much energy is being consumed as a requirement in calculating PUE – it also provides the visibility required when planning new IT capacity to enable informed decisions to be made regarding where to install new equipment.

More information regarding power monitoring can be found on our ‘Guide to managing power in a Data Centre’ page. Environmental monitors form another part of the Data Centre monitoring puzzle. Sensors can be utilised to monitor various conditions that can affect efficiency and performance of IT equipment and the Data Centre or IT Room as a whole. DCIM (or Data Centre Infrastructure Management) applications help provide centralised management of all these different types of monitoring systems by integrating them into one management system.

Why environmental monitoring is important to Data Centre management.

Environmental monitoring is an important part of effective Data Centre management, helping to detect and alert Data Centre Managers to areas requiring attention. For the past several years, Data Centre efficiency has been calculated using a metric called PUE. PUE compares the energy used by the facility (cooling, lighting etc.) against the energy used by the IT equipment itself. Monitoring equipment can be used to great effect in this process. Power monitoring can help identify how much energy is being used by IT equipment, whilst environmental monitoring equipment plays a vital role in enabling improvements in airflow management and cooling efficiency, while at the same time protecting IT equipment from potentially harmful conditions (more on improving airflow management can be found on our ‘Guide to airflow management in Data Centres’ page).

Environmental monitoring normally starts with two key parameters: temperature and humidity. Controlling these two conditions effectively plays an important part in Data Centre cooling optimisation and airflow management and can help with the performance and longevity of the IT equipment. Data Centres with poor airflow management can be over cooled and suffer from issues such as bypass airflow, latent cooling and hot spots. Temperature monitoring helps solve some of these issues by identifying areas that exceed minimum and maximum temperature thresholds, alerting when an area is being overcooled, is getting too hot or creating hotspots. Monitoring humidity within a Data Centre or IT environment is also important, if it is too low there is the risk of electrostatic discharge which can be damaging to IT equipment, too high and there can be electrical problems resulting from excessive moisture.

Power & Environmental Monitoring and Management

Environmental monitoring systems are more than just Data Centre temperature sensors.

Temperature sensors and humidity sensors are just the starting points for many Data Centre environmental monitoring systems. Some environmental monitors are built purely to monitor these two important conditions, for example the Geist Watchdog 15, but whilst these conditions are important, environmental monitoring systems are capable of much more.

Other sensors to consider beyond temperature and humidity include:

  • Water/leak – Water sensors sense the presence of water or excess moisture and can be used around pipework, CRAC units or in water cooled server racks.
  • Airflow – Airflow sensors can be used to monitor the flow of air under raised floors or in the front of racks.
  • Smoke – Smoke sensors detect the presence of smoke.
  • Power – Power sensors can detect the presence or not of utility power being supplied.
  • Security / Door – Security or door sensors can be used to monitor access to rooms or IT cabinets.
  • Dry Contact – Dry contact sensors can connect other equipment that offer an open or closed or high / low state output. Changes in state can be monitored and alarmed accordingly.

Environmental monitoring systems such as iSensor provide a more flexible environmental monitoring solution capable of monitoring 24 temperature / humidity sensors, and can also incorporate sensors to monitor dust particles and volt free contacts. Some environmental monitoring systems can also trigger other events to happen when thresholds are exceeded for instance sound a siren, turn on a warning beacon or switch on a fan etc.

How a DCIM monitoring system centralises server monitoring and environmental monitors for better Data Centre management.

Centralising Data Centre monitoring, power usage and environmental monitors into a DCIM monitoring system not only makes day-to-day management easier but improves overall Data Centre management enabling Data Centre Managers to make informed decisions about their Data Centre estate and to make capacity planning decisions to support immediate and future IT installation.

Most monitoring systems utilise IP web interfaces for managing the piece of equipment; each with a separate login. This is fine when you are only managing a few environmental monitors or smart PDUs, but in Data Centres or Enterprise IT environments where there can be multiples of devices, managing them can become difficult. DCIM or Data Centre Infrastructure Management solutions enable systems to be integrated into one centrally managed platform meaning that server monitoring, asset registration, security, power monitoring, building services, CCTV systems and environmental monitoring systems amongst others can be accessed via a single interface.

EDP Europe’s DCIM application Sensorium offers a powerful, flexible and cost-effective DCIM solution that uses a modular 64bit .NET architecture to deliver unrivalled performance and expandability and is suitable from small Comms Rooms to large Data Centres. It offers peerless integration and superior flexibility. Sensorium’s modular nature enables bespoke dashboards and home screens to be created so that the data relevant to your requirements are right where you need them. Create dynamic icon floor plans of your IT room as well as reviewing real-time and historical data of your cabinet data. You can even integrate your assets and cabinet population into another dashboard. DCIM monitoring systems can be configured in such a way that they provide access to the data needed for better data centre management, all from a single interface.

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