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  • Top 3 Reasons to Monitor Your Server Room / Data Center

    It's 2013, a new year with a smaller budget and of course a higher expectancy for better equipment efficiency. In order to have this higher level of efficiency while meeting budget constraints, you would need to essentially extend the lifespan of your equipment. Expanding the lifespan requires a monitoring system that would ensure your equipment is operating in an acceptable range of environmental conditions. Here are our Top 3 Reasons to Monitor Your Server Room / Data Center:

     

    (1) Protect Your Mission Critical equipment from Failure

    The humming of servers is generally a good indicator that equipment is working diligently. However with the increase in productivity, comes an increase in temperature created by your efficient equipment. Although ASHRAE did increase the temperature envelope to 80.6°F for data centers, many still try to push the envelope in order to promote higher efficiency while trying to lower energy costs and usage. To achieve this, you would need to use less coolers and chillers yet still run equipment at a high rate of productivity; such as Google's Data Center in Belgium, which has been deemed Google's most efficicent data center.

    Innovative approaches to running your server and other technical equipment at a higher temperature have greatly improved productivity levels while lowering energy costs. However not every company has the budget for the latest in server room and data center technology. Less technologically innovative servers that try to run at higher productivity in hotter climates can fail, resulting in damaged or melting equipment as well as data loss, not to mention unhappy IT people crammed into that hot room as well.


    (2) Inability to Physically & Personally Monitor After Hours

    In the IT realm, servers are most certainly mission critical; however, servers are rarely viewed as a life or death matter. Considering how much data and information has been collected and stored, these pieces of equipment surely serve an important purpose to all. After all, technology is the backbone supporting a company's operations nowadays.

    Just like a human cannot function at high efficiency without a healthy spine, it is very difficult for a company to function productively without technology in such a tech-savvy timeBut since servers are not often seen as mission critical by ones outside the IT realm, there is a lack of a budget for monitoring these servers. Often overlooked and forgotten, there is rarely a person designated to monitor after hours when IT staff have left for the day. This often leaves these pieces of mission critical equipment unmonitored, resulting in not only informational loss but financial loss as well: During 2009, an estimated $50 million to $100 million losses occurred due to environmental issues going unmonitored!


    (3) Be Green Friendly: Lower Energy & Costs

    With decreased budgets presented and increased efficiency expected along with meeting green and sustainability initiatives, IT staff are forced to make due. This means working in hotter enviornments in order to run machines at full productivity levels while not over-using the air conditioning, cooler, chiller or HVAC systems. Even Google's Data Center in Beligum uses only fresh air to cool off the equipment. Despite the risks of high temperature, many must make these choices in order to meet departmental changes.

    By at least monitoring temperature, you can help extend the lifespans of your servers. Considering the fact that running them at higher temperatures is a must, making sure your servers are not working in too hot of an environment is therefore crucial. At some point, the envelope will be pushed to such an extent that equipment will malfunction and even melt. By efficiently limiting use of cooling & HVAC systems, you would save in costs and lower energy consumption while still protecting your mission critical equipment. By using temperature monitoring equipment with SNMP traps, you would even be able to program in a shut down mode for your equipment if the temperature threshold has been breached.

    By taking the initiative to meet all the new requirements ranging from budget to sustainability by doing temperature monitoring, you will be able to prevent disaster instead of having to clean up melted server. Learn more from our FREE E-Book on Temperature Monitoring:

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  • Prepare for Winter: Quick Monitoring Tips for Property Managers

    Despite the low temperatures and resulting struggles of late (particuraily in the Northeast) , 2012 data remarks this year as the hottest on record (for many states). Still, even with reports of record "highs" throughout the country despite no new "lows", the daunting winter months lie ahead. For homeowners and property managers, this can be a stressful time of year; failed water heaters and/or burst pipes. We've put together this short list to help you prepare for 2013's arctic assault:

    1. Know the heat thresholds!

    Most states have different guidelines for heat and hot water within homes and apartments, from specfic temperatures to seasonal adjustments. Temperature Monitoring devices are perfect for detecting faults in room temperature. This chart from the NYC  Department of houseing preservation and development illustrates a nice rule of thumb. During the winter months, homes should be kept above 68 degrees at a minimum. For hot water, a year-round minimum of 120 degrees farenheit is the baseline for New York dwellings. Propety managers need to make sure that they fall within state guidelines on both room temperature and hot water. For specific information on your state and law requirements, please check with the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    heat and hot water poster resized 600

     

    2. Monitor and insulate those pipes!

    As winter brings the coldest temperatures to your basement, water pipes are of particular concern as the temperature drops. Air temperature in zones with delicate heating and/or water pipes must be adequately monitored to prevent bursting. Still, the question remains, when exactly does this become a concern? For southern states (and as a general rule of thumb, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, 20 degrees farenheit* is the calculated threshold for pipe bursting. Be sure to monitor rooms with pipes closely when the temperature drops below 20 to prevent bursting

    Quick Tip! If you suspect freezing in your pipes, run a faucet or drip from the sink to help relieve some of the pressure that may be building up within. Be aware that a 1/8'' crack in a pipe can leak up to 250 gallons of water a day! 

    Quick Tip! Double up on insulation. An exposed pipe is a hazardous pipe, and any further exposure to the elements can lead to bursting. Also, be sure to check for leaks or gaps between sealants. Cover all of the nooks and crannies! See our blog article on pipe bursting for more information and applicable solutions.

     

    3. Listen and Respond: Your Occupants

    Aside from our suggestions, we can't stress enough the importance of communication. For the property managers that may not always be on premises, your tenants will have the best feedback as to the real-time concerns of your building. Make sure to alert (and educate!) them to the potential hazards that cold weather can bring to their homes, and encourage tenants to address concerns or problems quickly. 

    Quick Tip!

    Devise a two-fold strategy that relies on both technology and the human element for your property. Temperature sensors can alert you to major changes or potential problems for your property, a must for a remote owner. The human monitors ensure that no small problem goes unnoticed, and the incremental insight can help prevent an impending disaster. Check out our FREE E-Book for more tips.



    *This threshold is based upon research conducted by the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois. Field tests of residential water systems subjected to winter temperatures demonstrated that, for un-insulated pipes installed in an unconditioned attic, the onset of freezing occurred when the outside temperature fell to 20°F or below. This finding was supported by a survey of 71 plumbers practicing in southern states, in which the consensus was that burst-pipe problems began to appear when temperatures fell into the teens. However, freezing incidents can occur when the temperature remains above 20° F. Pipes exposed to cold air (especially flowing air, as on a windy day) because of cracks in an outside wall or lack of insulation are vulnerable to freezing at temperatures above the threshold. However, the 20°F temperature alert threshold should address the majority of potential burst-pipe incidents in southern states.

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  • How many temperature sensors do I need?

    What is the temperature in the room you’re in right now?  Take a guess, you’ll be correct within a few degrees.  Now, what is the temperature of the room?  Don’t bother answering that, it’s a trick question because in fact there is no “temperature of the room”, the temperature of the room is a 3D matrix that likely varies by up to 3°C (5.4°F) from one point to another.

    In spaces as different as commercial refrigerators and data centers, temperature differences can be even greater.  Computer modeling demonstrates how, in a data center, server racks can be cool at the bottom and hot near the top.  Commercial refrigerators can have very cold areas near the chilled air outlets.  Whether or not the temperature variations are meaningful depends on what they impact.  Consider the last time you turned your refrigerator down a little and noticed the next morning the milk container in the direct blast from the cooled air outlet was partially frozen.

    Temperature@lert’s White Paper Library has an entry titled “Why isn’t the sensor reading the same as my thermostat?”   (Link to White Paper) The paper shows a room cycling through a twenty-four hour cycle in a second floor, sunny bedroom temperature differences at the floor and 6-feet from the floor can be as much as 5°F, and are never equal.  MIT’s Building Technology Group is explores design, technology and implementation of environmentally responsive urban housing in China.  Figure 1 shows temperature variations from room to room in a sustainably designed apartment.  This one plane model shows a 1°C (1.8°F) temperature difference in rooms with heat sources.



    Figure 1: Modeling temperature variations in an environmentally responsive urban home shows average of 24°C and high of 25°C.   Source: MIT Chinahousing Research  (Link to MIT China House)

    To make informed decisions about how many sensors to deploy, consider whether or not the heating and cooling sources are in direct line with sensitive materials.  Enough sensors will be needed to insure the warmest and coolest locations are within established parameters.  Too many sensors can lead to “sensor data fatigue”, having too much data.  If you’re unsure, experimenting with a few in different locations is a good start.  A balance of protecting valuable materials, cost, and variability within the space being monitored will insure that when problems occur, they are noticed.

    For questions or additional information, contact Temperature@lert at info@temperaturealert.com.

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