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Temperature Monitoring

Temperature Monitoring Feature

July 08, 2010

Making the Right Temperature Monitoring Selections... As the Heat Rises

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

With temperatures reaching the 100's this past week, and with little to no relief in sight, monitoring your data center's temperature is more important than ever. In considering this specific need, one must focus on the two most important priorities - controlling costs and reducing power consumption. While both contribute to the bottom line, a reduction in power can also help the company's approach to going 'green' as demanded by many of its clients. 

In order to effectively implement temperature monitoring practices, you have to know what tools you need to have in place. Let's take a look at what industry experts are already doing and how their best practices and lessons learned can enhance your environment. We relied on comments shared in a recent Processor (News - Alert) piece.

Time and again, it is highlighted in the industry that IT managers need to understand what monitoring options are available for the data center. Wired sensors were the standard fare up until two or three years ago. So much plugging and cabling meant most organizations would only deploy a handful of sensors. 
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) specify that there are six temperature sensors on each rack. Mark Harris, vice president of product management at Modius, notes a common feeling among enterprises is that while ASHRAE is too strict, too few sensors is also risky. It is best to try and achieve a happy medium.
There is a broad range of wireless sensors on the market today that help to drive the right-sizing of temperature monitoring deployments. According to Harris, modern wireless sensors small enough to fit into the palm of a hand are just as dependable as wired alternatives.
It is also important for IT managers to decide if and how tightly various monitoring products should be integrated with one another and with the enterprise network. If the temperature monitoring will be outsourced to a services provider, there will be less need to make sensor data available to IT staff. Standalone systems are ideal for the small business, although larger organizations will need specific features to gain the most value.

The purchase of environmental and temperature monitoring equipment is very similar to buying life insurance - too little in a catastrophe can be devastating; too much when all is calm is throwing money away. The monitoring selected must be equal to that of the value of what is protected. 

'Because monitoring is so easy to do these days,' Harris says, 'you don't want to be in a position where you say 'If only I had looked at outside air temperatures, as well, I could have weighed this other set of business analytics against the data I have.' Monitor the things that you can see as likely being part of your decision processes: temperature, power, backup power, cooling, server loads. But don't kill yourself. At some point, a diminishing returns curve kicks in.'

At the end of the day, IT managers must be prepared to compromise. Any temperature monitoring purchase involves the process and relies on hard choices. Working with an outside vendor can provide an unbiased assessment of the best strategy for temperature monitoring and device selection. Just be sure the vendor selected is looking at your best interest and not their own bottom line.