Data Center

Avoid The IT Resiliency Fallacy and Monitor Your IT Environment

I’m a big fan of the major coffeehouse chain featuring a well-known mermaid on each cup. I know… I’m a millennial, so I should drink only freshly roasted, organic, fair trade coffee steeped in a French Press. To be fair, that’s my weekend routine. But during the week few activities get my day off to a better start than ordering a dark roast coffee and a spicy chorizo breakfast sandwich from that omnipresent store, earning loyalty stars to boot.

In fact, it’s become a bit of a routine so you can imagine my dismay when I couldn’t order my breakfast sandwich last week. An employee had left the freezer open overnight, spoiling all the food. Working in the security and environmental monitoring space, I began to wonder: no door contact sensor? no temperature monitoring? no alerting? A commercial freezer contains some valuable product – surely there was a remote monitoring and notification system? Guess not.

This parallels what I call the IT Resiliency Fallacy, the belief that because computing equipment has become more rugged and virtualization more prevalent, there is no need to monitor the environment in which the gear itself is stored. It’s a reasonable train of thought, but one with potentially devastating consequences. Now, I’m not advocating for a return to the 55°F data centers, but real-time monitoring and alerting is still a fundamental component of any IT deployment.

There are numbers to back up the Resiliency Fallacy. In 2016, 11% of all data center outages were attributable to water damage or high heat. Think about that—even as complex cyber threats like DoS, MITM attacks, and Phishing schemes demand nearly all our time and attention, one out of every ten data center outages is caused by an easily preventable environmental condition. Fortunately, there are simple and efficient ways to prevent such outages, at a fraction of the time and cost typically required to combat crippling cyber threats.
A basic environmental monitoring scheme will include temperature sensing for every IT rack, humidity sensing for every third rack, and leak detection throughout the room. For data center monitoring, deploying a long “rope leak detector” will allow you to protect an entire row or plenum from fluid damage using a single sensing device. For monitoring an edge IT deployment or wiring closet, utilizing smaller “spot fluid detectors” above and below the rack is usually sufficient.

Many modern compute environments rely on converged IT equipment frequently preconfigured off site in a single rack and then wheeled into a data center. In a dynamic environment like that, wireless temperature and humidity sensors provide significant deployment flexibility and cost savings by removing all cabling concerns. An added benefit of wireless sensing is the ability to move sensors throughout the IT room as the heating and cooling profile of the room changes, rather than being locked into a rigid cabling structure.

It’s clear to see that data centers, edge IT deployments, and even standard wiring closets stand to benefit from a robust environmental monitoring system. There’s just too much risk in forgoing such a simple and inexpensive piece of a compute environment, not to mention persistent damage to credibility and branding. By avoiding the IT Resiliency Fallacy, you can prevent your own coffee shop freezer faux pas.

To learn more about APC by Schneider Electric solutions for IT environmental monitoring, check out the NetBotz Introduction Video.

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