Environmental Monitoring

Keep an eye on your server room and data centre environmental conditions
environmental monitoring dashboard with sensors
Why environmental monitoring is important

The average server room is unmanned for more than 70% of the time, that's why it's critical to monitor the IT operating environment 24/7. Whether it is at room level or at individual rack level the same is true.

It's a staggering fact but evidence shows from our own customer base that although we do have clients with large data centres and a 24/7 presence; the majority of OmniWatch users operate in normal business hours.

This means that their server rooms are unsupervised for 14 hours over night during the week and for a period of 62 hours from close of play on Friday through to Monday morning. Overall this means that the critical IT equipment is in a 'lights out' state for around 70% of the time. Clearly this increases even more during extended holiday periods such as Bank Holidays, Easter and the festive period.

Upcoming UK public holidays in 2018
1 JanMonNew Year's DayNational
2 JanTueNew Year HolidayScotland
17 MarSatSt Patrick's DayNorthern Ireland
19 MarMonSt Patrick's Day HolidayNorthern Ireland
30 MarFriGood FridayNational
2 AprMonEaster MondayNational except Scotland
7 MayMonMay DayNational
28 MayMonLate May Bank HolidayNational
12 JulThuBattle of the BoyneNorthern Ireland
6 AugMonAugust Bank HolidayScotland
27 AugMonAugust Bank HolidayNational except Scotland
30 NovFriSt Andrew's DayScotland
25 DecTueChristmas DayNational
26 DecWedBoxing DayNational
Maximise business uptime

Furthermore when we quiz our customers on their working practices they often remark that even when they are at work the server room isn't somewhere that people base themselves for lengthy periods. Typically they operate a 'lights out' model and as a consequence they tend to visit a few times a day when required to change a tape, re-boot systems or supervise and implement server replacements etc. Even during these brief visits they would have no idea if a problem had occurred unless it was blatantly obvious like a catastrophic air con failure. For the more subtle problems; for instance air con units becoming less efficient, cabinet enclosure heat build up or water ingress under the false floor or within the ceiling void it would be impossible to know until it was too late.

unmonitored dark server room

Knowing there is a potential problem as early as possible gives valuable thinking and reaction time. Being able to remedy a situation in a controlled and managed fashion before it escalates to a situation you need to recover from can prove invaluable.

That's why environmental monitoring of server rooms, data centres and even server closets is essential to maintaining operating efficiency and maximising the uptime of IT services being provided to the business and end users.

An added benefit is that equipment manufactures often have recommended operating conditions they insist on to guarantee the warranty of kit. By measuring the environment and equally important, being able to audit long periods of time where equipment is housed, can prove critical.

OmniWatch On-Demand reports

A good example of the benefit of environmental monitoring with OmniWatch is our easy to use on-demand report function. One of our clients had a UPS installed and the batteries were guaranteed a lifetime of 10 years. However after 6 years the batteries needed replacing. Their UPS service provider told them that the problem most likely occurred because the UPS was not being kept within their recommended operating levels and therefore the batteries were out of warranty.

By being able to prove the operating condition of the environment of the UPS during this period with OmniWatch’s on-demand report function our customer was able to present audited trend data over the previous 6 years. This meant the manufacturer had to replace the batteries as 'faulty' with no charge to our client.

As illustrated above, there are key benefits to monitoring the environment of your server and IT rooms. Typical conditions monitored are:

dew point
air flow
water ingress
mains power

With OmniWatch's environmental monitoring function IT personnel can be assured they will be made aware of issues long before they become problems, giving them valuable time to remedy matters and maximise the uptime of their IT.

The environmental monitoring conundrum

Whilst researching your options you may realise there is much more to this than meets the eye. Key questions start to materialise like what type of monitoring hardware is the most appropriate? Do you monitor the general environment or have you a requirement to monitor at rack level? How do you configure a monitoring unit and how do know you're protected once you've installed it? What happens if devices and any associated sensors become un-plugged or fail?

A key point to consider is that all such devices rely on technology to contact you for any problems, but what happens if this fails? We all know what it's like when email is down or when your mobile is out of battery or signal. We guarantee to contact you with our 3-tier emergency contact procedure; email, 2-way SMS and dedicated 24/7 call centre for all critical alarms.

It's our job to let you know of a problem before it escalates to a disaster. That's why our customers rest assured knowing we've got them covered 24/7.

"We have been using Spook for many years, trying to implement and establish our own monitoring has never proven successful, as we are not experts in this area. Importantly Spook is cost effective. The biggest benefit of Spook is the comfort that whatever time of day or night, we will receive telephone calls from a human to alert us to problems, nothing else we have found will give us this service, and like most busy IT Professionals we will sleep through an SMS message at 3am."

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