Buying Tips: Environmental Monitoring Equipment
Originally posted at www.processor.com
Environmental monitoring offerings are not things an enterprise invests in on a whim. Every organization has unique infrastructure limitations, climate issues, and monitoring needs, so no one-sizefits-all solution exists. Furthermore, decision
makers need to be well versed in the latest environmental monitoring tech available, and in areas such as sensor applications, notification capabilities, and management automation, to make appropriate choices. Gina Dickson, product manager for Black
Box Network Services (www.blackbox.com), ranks ease of configuration and management, variety of notification options, scalability, reporting and data collection, and variety of sensors as top concerns.
Wi-Fi, cellular, Power over Ethernet, and more. Until recently, any active monitoring product needed to be wired to be networked, and it also often needed to be powered independently. But Wi-Fi and cellular technologies have taken up the slack, enabling customers to implement a monitoring system in even remote and infrastructure-constrained locations. Power over Ethernet and USB-based sensors and equipment alsonegate the thermal impact of the extra hardware and effectively leave the power envelope intact. Many products also offer internal battery backup features to maintain alerts.
Monitor a variety of conditions. For critical systems that handle the most important data, it is vital to monitor a variety of conditions, even those unlikely to affect performance, to ensure against loss and downtime. Key environmental sensor types that can deliver proactive feedback include temperature, humidity, airflow, water leakage, and dry contacts. Power and voltage sensors are also important, even if the power sources have a reliable track record. Security-based sensors can also be incorporated into an environmental monitoring system.
Notification options. A state-of-the-art environmental monitoring system is nothing without notifications, and having options is important. Common notification options include email, LEDs, audible alarms, beacons, sirens, Web alerts, SNMP, automated phone calls, and SMS. Dry contact. Refers to an electrical contact that does not make or break a circuit. PoE (Power over Ethernet). A technology that enables devices to receive their operating voltage from the same Ethernet cable that passes along data. SEMS (Server Environmental Monitoring Systems). Refers to products designed to record and report the environmental conditions of servers and clients. SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol). A network protocol that lets users monitor network availability and performance Bob Douglass, vice president of sales and marketing at Sensaphone says, “The primary motivation for adding an environmental monitoring system is to know when you have a problem as soon as possible. Text messages and email alerts are great if it’s during the day, but they won’t get you out of bed at night.” Douglass recommends picking a system that can call and talk to you. “It also helps if the telephone feature is integrated so the voice message can accurately describe which sensor tripped and tell you the current conditions.”
Ease of installation. According to Upsite Technologies, ease of installation is imperative.
Most environmental monitoring products don’t require specialized expertise to install, enabling IT staff to do the work without additional training.
Ensure ample coverage. Consider the room size and amount of equipment to be monitored and plan the number and placement of sensors accordingly. “If your deployment is small, a few points of measurement may suffice,
but if you have a large operation, you may require environmental measurements every few feet,” says Brandon Siri, senior
marketing representative at Server Technology.