In order to meet demand, data centers are facing the need for physical expansion of their capabilities, such as the addition of new server racks, greater capacity HVAC systems and more. The problem is that those needing to making physical changes cannot do so remotely. Fortunately, there is a solution, which combines traditional data center infrastructure management (DCIM) with the application of the Internet of Things (IoT). Once implemented, data center IoT can help minimize the need for on site interventions, reduce costs and enable better data collection.
Jump to section:
- The Case for Data Center Automation Grows Stronger
- Using IoT to Drive Automation
- Potential Cost Savings
- The Effect of the Physical Layer on IoT
- Components of a Good Physical Layer Monitoring System
The Case for Data Center Automation Grows Stronger
Data centers face a number of unique challenges at the moment. Those that were operating at 75-80% capacity prior to COVID-19 have suddenly found themselves operating at 95% thanks to widespread work from home requirements driving a jump in demand. Not only do data centers need to meet current demand levels, with continuing uncertainty around when things will ‘get back to normal,’ the need to consistently deliver over an extended period of time.
In order to physically expand however, Technicians need to be on site, installing new server racks, horizontal cable management racks, additional cabling, and maximizing data center floor space. And they have to do all this while maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, and protecting the health of every essential worker who needs to be on site.
Enter DCIM and the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is the first real application of using operational technology towards data center automation. The idea is to implement monitoring and repair solutions with minimal human intervention after the initial installation. What does this look like?
Using IoT to Drive Automation
The Internet of Things is in the driver’s seat when it comes to changes in DCIM. IoT Devices are cheaper to create and install. Wired monitors are more difficult to deploy, generally cost more, and lack the efficiency of wireless monitoring devices. To your bottom line, data center IoT devices can collect more data from numerous locations and end points for less cost.
Also, since they are wireless, IoT devices can be monitored from anywhere. But that’s not all. Even pre-COVID there was a growting trend towards data center automation, remote access and management. More data means better predictive analytics when it comes to future maintenance needs and even setups for self-healing infrastructure.
It’s critical that as much data as possible is gathered, collected, and controlled correctly, and those tasks are perfectly suited for IoT solutions. The more data center automation that is already in use, the less it will cost to upgrade to a more robust monitoring system.
This is where the maturity of the DCIM comes in: the more up to date the DCIM, the easier it is to keep current. But it’s not just about the IoT and devices. You still need skilled people at the heart of it – automation doesn’t catch everything. But that being said, there are at least three areas where implementation of data center IoT will save you money.
Potential Cost Savings
Where will cost savings come in to play? There are essentially three areas:
- The monitoring of air flow, HVAC, and utilization of space – More on this in a moment.
- Resiliency systems, like UPS systems – Individual batteries can fail or require too much electricity to maintain a charge and degrade system performance on backup power.
- The human element – While you need skilled people to deploy and analyze data, the disruption of HVAC equilibrium and additional space needs can be offset by remote monitoring.
Some changes are so subtle, they won’t be caught by human monitoring anyway, particularly battery performance and other issues. Without integrating a data center IoT you might not even know there is a problem unless you are specifically looking for it.
The Effect of the Physical Layer on IoT
Is system management new? No. But there are new ways to manage passive assets like HVAC that make data centers more efficient and profitable. But in addition, there are two camps of thought about the data center, and the IoT can help bridge that gap.
The data center itself often falls under facilities management. That team is concerned with physical security, power usage, fire suppression and more. The IT department, on the other hand, wants the data center to deliver data and services, and do it quickly. The facilities side may not be monitoring data performance, and the IT side may not be considering power management at all.
This is where the IoT shines. Remote systems monitoring allows facilities management to see the impact changes they make may have on overall performance, and the IT department can see the limitations of the physical layer, and make data driven decisions about usage and proposed changes.
Components of a Good Physical Layer Monitoring System
Many DCIM systems are designed by the IT side of the data center and lack the robust physical layer monitoring that is necessary in a modern data center. What makes a good physical layer monitoring system? There are several factors involved.
- 100% Wireless – A wireless system that can monitor hundreds of sensors simultaneously will work for even large data center environments
- Real-time Monitoring and Event Storage – Real-time, user set alarms and alerts and event storage on the cloud for later analysis
- Low-Maintenance IoT Devices – Small, maintenance-free devices with long battery life
- 3-D Visualizations – That allow effective monitoring with no infrastructure changes
- Energy-Reducing System – Allowing data centers to save more than 20% on power usage
A good system will have custom data center IoT devices and sensing probes available for specific use, and a cloud server where data can be easily accessed, analyzed, and managed.
Want to compliment your current DCIM or looking to upgrade or install a new one? Contact us about the A150 System, which includes all of the components and cloud services like those mentioned above. We’d love to talk about how we can help you make your data center more profitable through this innovative data center automation technology.
Physical Layer Environment Network Security Monitoring and Control
Full visibility, network security and control of your physical layer environment. Monitor your entire hybrid cloud and IT infrastructure from a cloud-based, integrated dashboard:
- Introducing the A150 System
- A150 System Architecture – High-Level Overview
- A150 System Features
- System Controller Hardware and Specifications
- Monitoring Controllers, Probes and Sensors
About the Author
Louis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
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