Being green used to be an afterthought-a good idea but not a priority. With soaring energy prices, concerns about global warming and worries of overflowing landfills, green technology is no longer a fad or a luxury. It's practical.
Solution providers now have a choice for the data center: They can offer energy-efficient displays, computers that use chips that can do more and generate less heat, and cooling systems that require little power. It's one thing to get equipment into the data center, but it's also important to monitor energy usage and accurately measure heat output to verify all those green products are doing the job. For just such a product, CRN Test Center engineers looked at a monitoring and alerting solution from AVTECH Software. Room Alert 24E measures a slew of environmental factors in the data center, including temperature, humidity and power, and sends alerts when a particular threshold is exceeded.
For solution providers working with customers concerned about the costs of running a data centerâ€”powering the equipment, cooling the center, protecting sensitive machines-a monitoring solution like this can help figure out expenses and identify problem spots.
Along with rises and drops in temperature and humidity, Room Alert can detect smoke and fire, interruptions in main power and UPS power, floods and water leaks, entry and motion, air flow based on fan status and dry contacts.
Engineers set up the Room Alert in a test area with six servers of varying power, several switches and two NAS boxes. The Room Alert equipment included five temperature sensors, a digital power sensor and a room entry sensor. The device has built-in sensors for digital temperature, digital humidity and main power.
Room Alert 24E is both a hardware and software solution. It consists of an ID box, sensors and probes to collect data, and the PageR Enterprise software. The application offers a central console with a Web interface that collects, filters and displays important status and event information from every server and TCP/IP device on the network. Events-both normal status and critical warnings-are flagged to automatically trigger notifications to remote personnel, run scripts and launch applications. Solution providers can use the interface to configure the device, analyze the information from the sensors and send alerts or perform corrective action depending on the business rules.
The device monitors the environment in realtime and sends alert notifications via e-mail and SMS to computers, phones, pagers and handhelds. The alerts can be tweaked to consider thresholds for rising and falling temperatures and humidity, as well as fluctuations in power consumption. The device can also use Simple Network Paging Protocol, dialout paging (TAP or UCP), Web page update, logfile update, pop-up broadcast messages, instant messaging, an audible alarm, spoken alarm and fax.
All of the collected data from sensors is accessible in the Web interface. The product is also SNMP-enabled, so any SNMP-capable application, such as PageR Enterprise, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)'s OpenView, IBM (NYSE:IBM)'s Tivoli, and CA (NYSE:CA)'s Unicenter, can be used to monitor the system.
Priced at $895, the 24E comes with a year-long maintenance contract and a 30-day warranty. It has a built-in Web server for its management interface and a built-in UPS to get the alerts out even when there is a power failure in the data center. The sensors range in price from as low as $25 for the room entry sensor and $35 for the air flow sensor, to as high as $395 for the flood sensor cable. The sound, light, and entry sensor is priced at $145.
Since 24E comes bundled with PageR, engineers were able to create notifications for different individuals based on time of day, as well as for different sensors. There's no need to have alerts for all the sensors go to the same person; each sensor can be linked to a different employee. PageR also can create custom monitoring schedules.
The sensors for Room Alert 24E can collect data from as far as 100 feet away for digital temperature and humidity. For all other switch sensors, such as mail/UPS power and air flow, the distance increases to as much as 900 feet.
A very important aspect of 24E for the green-conscious customer is the device's log system. Room Alert 24E can log sensor data to track or identify critical times when environmental conditions change or cause problems. This information in the logs can be used to justify buying a new air-conditioning unit (to cool down the data center more), to modify the data center layout (to encourage air flow, which will also help with cooling), or to just change where certain equipment is stored.
Solution providers can integrate AVTECH's Room Alert with products from other vendors or other AVTECH offerings to extend the remote management features. For example, Room Alert 24 E and PageR can be used in conjunction with Axis Communications' 210 network IP camera to create a security monitoring solution. And getting information on the equipment's energy usage is a bonus.
Room Alert 24E's hardware component is a very simple piece of equipment. The ID Box is a bright-red 1U 19-inch rack unit with an Ethernet port, six RJ-11 ports for digital sensors on the front panel and three LEDs. The LEDs for Digital, Switch and Flood indicate the current alarm status for built-in sensors. On the back panel, there are 16 switch sensor contact sets to plug in sensors. Another RJ-45 port on the back is used as an expansion port to add other AVTECH devices. There's also a reset button and a main power port.
The LEDs simplify monitoring. When the LED is green, there are currently no sensors in an alarm state for that type of sensor, and if the LED is red, then one or more sensors of that type are in an alarm state.
The Web interface is ideal for SMBs monitoring a small location; the PageR software is ideal for monitoring several locations in one easy view.
AVTECH sells its IT Environment Monitoring solutions directly and through the channel. Solution providers can sign up for the channel program on the vendor's Web site.