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How to Monitor Server Room Temperature and Environmental Conditions

It’s not enough to just monitor the activity and performance of your network to prevent issues and downtime from data based threats. Environmental conditions can pose just as much of a threat to the hardware of your network: extreme temperatures, high humidity, water leaks, and physical security should be on your list of priorities as well.

Maintaining proper server room conditions relies on a number of different variables which include ensuring proper ventilation for cold air intake and hot air return, humidity of the room, as well as verifying that proper airflow and temperature is circulating through your data and telecommunication racks. This is why you will need to monitor the environmental conditions in many places.

In this post, we will show you how to monitor server room temperature and other environmental conditions to prevent unexpected and often costly downtime and damages to your network infrastructure.

 

 

How to Monitor your Server Room in 5 steps.

1. Ambient Room Temperature Monitoring

The ambient temperature of your server room should be maintained between 18°-27°C / 64°-80°F with the relative humidity between 40% and 60%.

Room temperature monitoring is recommended in addition to rack monitoring because it will allow you to measure the incoming air temperature/humidity to compare to the rack mounted sensors in order to make adjustments.

Deploying temperature and humidity sensors near air conditioning units is recommended to measure the incoming air temp and detect failures. If you are concerned about potential “hot zones” inside the server room or data center you can also deploy sensors in these areas to as well.

Monitoring the humidity in server rooms is sometimes omitted but is equally important as temperature monitoring. When humidity is too dry it will result in the buildup of static electricity in the room and on network systems. When conditions are too humid, corrosion can start to damage equipment as well, resulting in permanent equipment failures. Humidity or temperature and humidity combination sensors can help you maintain the proper humidity levels which should be between 40% and 60% rH.

2. Rack Level Temperature Monitoring

The inlet temperature for your server racks should be between 18°-27°C / 64°-80°F and the hot air exhaust should not be more than 20°C / 35°F above the intake temperature.

Relying only on ambient room temperature monitoring is a common mistake, as your servers and devices will reach temperatures much higher than the recommended levels before the ambient temperature changes drastically. At the point ambient room temperature is above +80ºF, your servers and network equipment could very well be at +100ºF and at risk of failures and damages.

To ensure that your servers are receiving the proper air temperatures, at least 3 sensors should be mounted for each rack. One at the bottom front of the rack to measure the temperature of the cold air arriving to the rack; one at the top front of the rack to ensure that all cold air gets to the top of the rack; and finally one at the top back of the rack for exhaust air, which is typically the hottest point of the rack.

Free Server BTU Calculator

If you are in the process of planning or scaling your server room. Check out our Free Server BTU Calculator to help you plan your A/C Cooling and Server Electricity costs.

3. Water Leak & Flood Monitoring

Water leakage is a lesser known and less common threat for server rooms & data centers but it can easily be just as damaging as temperature, if not more. Most commonly leaks or flooding in server rooms can be caused by leaking air conditioning systems which is why it is recommended water sensors should be placed under each AC unit located in the server room. Though not as common, water leaks in floors or roofs above the room can cause serious damage to your equipment. Rope water sensors are recommended around the perimeter of the room or under raised floors.

Enviromon provides two type of sensors for water leakage: spot and rope based sensors.

Spot water sensors will trigger an alert when water touches the unit, and are best used for low-lying areas where water may pool in a centralized location.

Rope water sensors use a conductive cable whereby contact at any point along the cable will trigger an alert. Ideal for use in basements and under false floors and roof spaces. This water leakage sensor is the most recommended because its higher area of coverage and can be daisy chained in extendable 10ft lengths (or can be pre-ordered in custom lengths). Additionally, Enviromon’s rope water sensors can be used underneath backup battery banks to give advanced warning of battery acid leaks.

Both types of sensors support email and SMS alert notifications and are powered by SecurityHawk/SensorHawk base units so no additional power is required, meaning they can operate 24/7/365 with minimal human involvement.

4. Physical Security Monitoring

Now that we have covered how to protect your server room from the elements, it's time to briefly take you through how you can protect it from unauthorized access. Another concern to take into account is unauthorized employees or others who should not have access to your business’s critical infrastructure.

door security smart sensor is a magnetic on / off switch, which closes when one-half of the sensor is in close proximity to its mate. It is designed to be mounted on doors or windows. When the two sensor pairs are moved apart from each other they open. The base unit senses this closure and opening, and reports the condition.

A motion detection sensor can be used to record and alert of after hours or unauthorized accesses in your server room. Enviromon’s motion detection sensors can also be used to trigger security camera recording.

Installing security cameras for server rooms can allow you to visually monitor your assets to view and record any problems in your server room remotely. When connected to a SecurityHawk base unit, security cameras can be used to view live video via the base unit’s interface or can be configured to start recording when peripheral sensors such as the motion detection or door security sensors are triggered.

5. Implementing threshold standards with Sensorhawk and SNMP smart sensors.

Enviromon’s SensorHawk & SecurityHawk smart sensors and base units are easy to setup and simple to configure. Depending on the base unit you can monitor between 2-8 ethernet smart sensors and 20 dry contact sensors with the option to expand to another 8 smart sensor ports with the SecurityHawk 8-Port Smart Sensor Expansion Chassis.

Each smart sensor from Enviromon is quick and simple set-up to configure. Simply connect the ethernet cable to base unit, and the base unit will automatically recognize the type and allow you to define preset thresholds and alerts. Alerts are listed within the web interface and can be sent via email, or SMS to key personnel. Additionally, Enviromon’s base units support SNMP traps and sensor polling to connect with third-party network monitoring tools such as Netmon, SolarWinds, Nagios, etc. (MIB file supplied).

For more detailed information about configuring SensorHawk and SecurityHawk base units and smart sensors, you can see the product datasheets here.

Contact us at Enviromon to discuss your server room situation and we will be able to provide you with the best recommendations to monitor your server room and prevent avoidable disasters like these.

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