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  • Startup Time: Temperature@lert Goes To Cambridge, MA

    This startup represents the first winner of our USB promotion. We'll disclose company details and other specifics in an upcoming blog post. Keep an eye out for the post and pass along the Monthly Server Room Contest to a SysAdmin-in-need!

     

    Contest Details

    We will be giving away ONE FREE USB DEVICE per month to the server room with the most need! 

    Valued at $129.99,Temperature@lert USB Edition is a low-cost, high-performance device that monitors the ambient temperature in your server room and alerts you via e-mail when the temperature rises or falls outside your acceptable range.

    Please send a brief description, pictures, and/or videos to diane@temperaturealert.com for consideration! Our team will select one winner each month based on description and need, because we firmly believe that companies in every industry should take a proactive stance in monitoring temperatures to avert disasters.


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  • Vaccine Retrieval And Storage: Power Outages

    For most of us, a power outage is a sudden and temporary inconvenience that leaves us without our beloved gadgets and internet, that is, until the battery in your iPhone dies. But for vaccine storage, it's clear that a power outage brings larger and more troublesome obstacles. 

    It is virtually unavoidable to prevent all power failures. Storage faciilities must have back-up plans and back-up equipment to prepare for a power outage. Courtesy of the CDC's latest toolkit, here are a few procedures that you should be implementing in your power outage solution.

     

    1. Do not allow vaccines to remain in a nonfunctioning unit for an extended period of time, if you cannot forsee an immediate 'uptime' for the facility. 

    A homeowner might know this one instinctively; a power outage that lasts several hours can compromise the food in a home refrigerator/freezer. Though the food may be able to sustain an hour or two without cooling, it will eventually become a breeding ground for bacteria. Vaccines, on the other hand, are only effective when the temperature is kept within the required range. Avoid this by moving vaccines into emergency/secondary storage units as soon as possible after an outage.

    Generally, for attenuated vaccines, which contain a weakened form of the actual virus, exposure to heat and light can compromise the contents. Be sure to move these vaccines to cooler zones immediately during a power outage. On the opposite side, inactivated vaccines are sensitive to freezing temperatures. However, it is difficult to determine whether inactived vaccines are frozen/affected by variable temperatures, and a simple "eye test" is never sufficient. Stay tuned for next weeks post on the differences between attenuated and inactivated vaccines.

     

     

    2. If you are certain that power will be restored before comprimising temperatures can settle in, continue to use caution and be safe, not sorry.

    Do NOT open a storage unit door until the power has been completely restored. Even if the outage is temporary, make sure to avoid exposing vaccines to uncontrolled and uncertain temperatures. Vaccine storage is really a calculated science, and the environment outside of the storage unit represents uncertainty, fluctuation, and variation (not helpful). Whereas on the inside, the temperature and climate are controlled, certain, and show very little fluctuation (ideal for vaccines). In an outage, keep vaccines in their proper dwelling, and be sure not to disturb the natural, and controlled, temperature within the units.

     

    3. Once power is restored:

    Check all refrigerators and freezers that have been affected by the loss of power. make sure to to mark storage units that have moved beyond their set thresholds (Refrigerator 2C-8C , Freezer -50C and -15C). Document the changes in temperature from the thresholds and make sure to indicate how long vaccines were out of their required range. Such information is highly useful for disaster recovery plans, and can provide insight for future outages. If you ever have  suspicions about a vaccine(s) after a power outage, be sure to mark these with a "DO NOT USE" label and store them seperately. The key is to isolate the affected vaccines, and ensure that they're handled carefully after a power outage. With thorough planning, robust procedures and attention to detail, affected vaccines can be recovered and bacterial growth can be averted afrer power outages.

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  • Essential Tech Check List: Building And Retrofitting Your Server Room

    Whether you're building a server room, adding on or moving equipment, there are many considerations to mull over. From the basics to alarm systems, it is important to ensure your server room is efficient and to protect your mission critical equipment. Previously in our blog, we have addressed the issues surrounding the microclimate present in your server room; however, it is critical to have an understanding of how a server room should be laid-out and managed. Use our check list as a guide for promoting security, efficiency and productivity:

    Our Essential Tech Check List

    (1) Your Basics Of Space

    • -Examine the layout of the space and how many units of space you have to work with.

    • -The walls, including ceiling, and doors should isolate the sounds that your equipment is creating.

    • -Check to see which way the door opens. There should also be no windows or other entry points other than the doors in the room.

    • -Consider the floor and whether your equipment will need raised flooring. Aim for anti-static floor finishing to prevent an unwanted static charge.

    • -Make sure there is enough clearance for racks and that they are stable enough to hold your equipment.

    • -Check for aisle clearance too. Make sure your have enough room for exhaust to escape and not over-heat nearby equipment.

    • -Think about whether you need ladder racks, cabinets, shelves, patch panels or rack mounts.

    • -Take into weight and size of each piece of equipment into consideration when designing the layout.


    (2) Keeping Your Cool

    • -Check and see what type if centralized cooling is available, whether an under the floor air distribution or an air duct system.

    • -If there is no centralized system available, get an air conditioner or cooling unit that is able to keep your equipment working productively while minimizing energy consumption and costs.

    • -If at all possible, fresh air vents are great and save on energy costs and consumption!

    • -Remove any and all radiators or other heating equipment currently present in the room. You don't need to add heat at all!

    • -Monitor your cooling system(s) to make sure it is working properly, especially when no one is there.

    • -Make sure your cooling units are not too close in proximity to your electrical equipment, think condensation and flooding. Do not place air conditioning units over your servers.

    • -Monitor the humidity to prevent static charge and electrical shorts.

    • -See if a chilled water system is in the budget or find something within the budget constraints to ensure that the hot air has somewhere to go.

     

    (3) Using Your Power

    • -Check to make sure that you have enough outlets to support power to all your equipment and not to overload them.

    • -Get backup power, preferably UPS to prevent data loss from power blinking or outages.

    • -Don't surpass the maximum electrical intensity per unit of space.

    • -Consider shut down capabilities of equipment (SNMP traps for example).

    • -Make sure your equipment is grounded.

    • -Monitor for power outages if you are not using back-up power systems.

    • -Monitor your back up power systems to make sure your mission critical equipment is not failing due to power loss.

     

    (4) Keeping Secure & Safe

    • -Have at least one phone present in the room in case of emergencies.

    • -Either check for a preexisting fire alarm system and install one if there isn't.

    • -Get a fire suppression system if there is not one there. Take into consideration of whether you will have a wet or dry suppression system and the effects that will have on your equipment. (Halon is a great choice!)

    • -Have reliable contacts to help resolve issues immediately, or form a system of escalation.

    • -Monitor for flooding, especially if this has happened historically in the past.

    • -Secure entrances/exits, this is expensive equipment with critical data, you don't want just anyone in there messing around!

     

    (5) Other Considerations

    • -Get the best cabling/wiring available within budget constraints. 

    • -Keep extra cabling/wiring around, because you never know when you may need it.

    • -Consider color coding wires/cables, a little more work now but definitely a time-saver in the future!

    • -Think about lighting: location and heat produced.

    • -If there is someone sharing the space, get them some earplugs! It's going to be loud in there with the equipment being used.

    • -Consider networking/phone lines being run in there and how much space you have left after that.

    • -Plan for future expansion or retrofitting (again).

    • -Leave the service loops in the ceilings.

    • -Label outlets.

    • -Get rid of dust, your equipment hates it!

    • -Check if you have a rodent/pest problem.

    • -Cover emergency shutoff switches so that it can't be accidentally triggered.

    • -Try to centralize the room in the building so that you can eliminate having to use more cabling/wiring than you need to.

    • -Meet OSHA and ASHRAE guidelines as well local codes.


    Is your server room or do you know of someone's server room that is not being monitored for temperature? Are you concerned with energy consumption, ability to monitor off-hours, and/or preventing mission critical equipment from failure? If you or know someone who is experiencing such issues, we want to hear form YOU!

    We will be giving away ONE FREE USB DEVICE per month to the server room with the most need! Valued at $129.99,Temperature@lert USB Edition is a low-cost, high-performance device that monitors the ambient temperature in your server room and alerts you via email when the temperature rises or falls outside your acceptable range.

    Please send a brief description, pictures, and/or videos to diane@temperaturealert.com for consideration! Our team will select one winner each month based on description and need, because we firmly believe that companies in every industry 


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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 And 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 And Costs

    With decreased budgets presented and increased efficiency expected along with meeting green and sustainability initiatives, IT staff are forced to make do. 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 and 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 as of late, particularly 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 with the potential for failed water heaters and/or burst pipes. We've put together this short list to help you prepare for 2013s 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 N.Y.C.  Department of Housing 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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  • It's Hot! It's Cold! Oh No... It's Your Fluctuating Server Room Temperature Again...

    We know that every room, especially a server room, has its own microclimate. Even sensors that are inches apart can read different values! Although similar applications might share the same temperature threshold range, every sensor placement location is unique. It sounds strange that there would be such fluctuations in temperature within inches, but this happens because your server room has its own minature weather pattern!

    So how do you figure out the correct temperature range for monitoring your server room or where to place your sensor? As many conditions as there are for the actual ourdoor weather patterns, there are many variables for sensor placement and operational range because of the changing indoor microclimate.

    Essentially, in order to determine the right thresholds for your server room "environment", you need to acquire adequate baseline knowledge. This process is called "baselining", which involves monitoring your server room first to establish a history of normal conditions. Temperature is a significant threat to your equipment and in order to battle this, you need to discover and establish your server room's microclimate (i.e. baselining)!


    Baselining is basically achieved through studying the space of your server room while considering the components within it. Thic can be done to determine the proper ranges for both temperature and humiditySo what spots are the most critical for consideration when it comes to sensor placement?

    1. Hot Spots
    At the bare minimum, place at least one sensor in a central location in the room. Note: every room has its own mini weather pattern and conditions from one part to another can vary based on what the room contains and where vents/returns are located. The simplest rule of thumb is that heat rises so, the higher the sensor placement, the warmer the temperature

    2. Cooling Vent Locations
    Whether it is an air conditioner, economized cooler or another chilling device, it will affect the sensor reading depending on proximity of the sensor to the vent. If you want to monitor whether your cooling unit may be going out at different times, place a sensor in the air duct and you can determine when the cooling unit is off. Placement of a sensor in close proximity to the cooling unit may cause the sensor to pick up cooling unit "cycles", sending you false alerts in the process.

    3. Exhausts
    Besides cooling vents, you need to also consider hot vents from server cabinets or compressors. Placing a sensor near or in between these areas is crucial as high temperatures can cause damage to hardware. The exhaust-based alerts will draw attention to the high temperatures within the servers, allowing you to prevent loss of hardware (and revenue)!

    4. Ancillary Humidification Systems
    These systems help control humidity. Too much humidity can cause condensation which leads to electrical shorts. Not enough humidity causes one to have quite the mini-electrifying experience with static electricity at its peak. Place your humidity sensor in a location seperate from the ancillary humidification system in order to prevent the sensor from getting shorted and to avoid false humidity readings.

    By monitoring temperature and humidity, one can have early warning of any disasters looming in your server room. It is always better to prevent a disaster rather than mop up after it (speaking of, flood sensors are great too!). If you need assistance in determining the best practices and routines for your server room, please feel free to shoot me an email:diane@temperaturealert.com.

    Happy Monitoring!

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  • The Concerning Environmental Conditions in Your Server Room

    Scorching temperatures, flooding and humid conditions all come together to form the perfect storm. However, this doesn't occur in just nature. This can also occur in your server room! Servers are expensive pieces of equipment and the last thing you want to have is a server meltdown.

    Last week we discussed how temperature plays a significant factor in maintaining the lifespan of your server. When monitoring your server room, you need to be aware of the various conditions from temperature to humidity to flooding, the reason being that any of these environmental hazards can seriously damage your servers.

    Power outages, air conditioner failures, water leaks or high humidity can cause an array of problems. Together, these conditions can shutdown or even melt server room equipment. Flooding and high humidity can cause electrical shorts as well.

    Air conditioners and cooling units are neccesary to prevent your server room temperatures from reaching scorching temperatures. Nevertheless, power failure can happen to anyone. When the power fails, the cooling units stop cooling. Without fully-operational cooling units, server temperatures can reach catastrophic extremes. According to ASHRAE, you have about 15 minutes before a temperature problem arises, mostly due to the high rate of change. In summary, proper cooling systems, air conditioning units, and solid monitoring practices are important for any server room.

    Tune in next week to learn more about how to effectively monitor your server room or learn more now from our free E-Book.

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  • How To Increase The Lifespan Of Your Server

    It's Monday. You grab your coffee, toss in sugar and begin chugging your beloved caffeine. There's no feeling like walking into your server room or data center and having it swelteringly hot along with equipment malfunctioning. Even though you tried to prevent this from occuring by installing air conditioning units and other coolers, loss of equipment and information still can happen.

    In fact, for every 18 degrees that the temperature remains above 68°, servers lose approximately 50% of their reliability. Servers are an investment and one must take care in protecting such an important asset. Considering the average lifespan of a server is 4-6 years, it would be more cost-effective to maintain your server by keeping it at proper temperatures.

    Of course cooling units are a great way to cool down an already hot server room, but there's not always one person designated to monitor such a room 24/7. By implementing a temperature monitoring solution, you can increase the lifespan of the servers and maintain your reliability. Not to mention, you'll avoid a case of the Mondays.

     

    Get Your FREE IT/Server Room/Data Center Monitoing Guide Now:


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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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