IoT for Data Center Infrastructure Management: 5 Critical Applications

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IoT for Data Center Infrastructure Management: 5 Critical Applications

Data centers have become an indispensable part of modern computing infrastructures; housing business-critical applications and information. As they evolve from centralized on-premises facilities to edge deployments to public cloud services, it’s important to think long-term about how to maintain their reliability and security.

Major outages, data interruptions, and downtimes are expensive. According to Gartner, data center downtime costs $5,600 per minute on average. This results in average costs between $140,000 and $540,00 per hour depending on the organization. Good asset intelligence combined with preventive and predictive maintenance boosts equipment reliability and system availability.

While the sheer volume, velocity and structure of IoT data is creating challenges in terms of security, storage management, servers and the network, IoT has also created new opportunities to optimize data center infrastructure management (DCIF). IoT sensors and wireless IoT connectivity are being used to ensure optimal performance of critical data center equipment to maximize uptime, increase energy efficiency, lower operating costs and above all else, protect the data it is housing. Here are 5 critical IoT applications for data center infrastructure management.

IoT for Data Center Infrastructure Management

1. Temperature & Humidity Monitoring

Data center facilities operate 24/7, consuming vast amounts of energy and generating huge quantities of heat. Temperature control within the data center is essential in order to avoid equipment overheating, to regulate equipment cooling, and to measure overall efficiency.

Temperature sensors located in IT closets, data center racks, and key “hotspots” around the company’s facilities such as air conditioning intake and discharge vents can monitor heat generation and output for decentralized, granular control of the HVAC system and computer room air conditioning (CRAC) unit.

This is also a critical function for reducing energy costs which represent the largest operational expense in data centers. Data centers have a tendency to overcool their facilities by several degrees just to err on the side of caution. According to Gartner, environmental sensors can save up to four percent in energy costs for every degree of upward change in the baseline temperature. This is because temperature sensors at the rack inlet provide far more accurate, real-time view of data center temperatures compared to CRAC readings alone. This information can be used to make the cooling system more efficient, for example shutdown CRAC units as needed.

In addition to temperature, humidity control is essential to avoid damage to critical equipment. High humidity may result in equipment corrosion while low humidity may result in a build-up of static electricity. Environmental sensors provide real-time insights to ensure optimal humidity levels across the facility.

2. Indoor Air Quality Monitoring

Indoor air quality is another environmental hazard impacting data centers. Maintenance operations, infrastructure upgrades, and equipment changes as well as outdoor air used for ventilation, pressurization and/or cooling can introduce airborne contaminants into the facility. An indoor air quality monitoring solution can proactively alert teams to pollutants and particulates that affect electronic equipment, corrode contacts and reduce capabilities to failure point, which can result in costly data center outages.

3. Leak Detection

Water leaks are one of the biggest threats to a data center. Whether it is a leaking air conditioner, water cooled server rack, condensation, groundwater or local plumbing, water damage can have considerable costly consequences.

Leak detection sensors notify teams at the very first sign of a leak allowing them to take remedial action. For example, rope sensors can be placed in hard-to-reach locations such as around each CRAC system, cooling distribution units, under raised floors, and any other leak source (such as pipes). Spot leak sensors can be used to monitor fluid overflows in drip pans, monitoring in smaller rooms, closets or any low spots.

4. Remote Power Monitoring

While environmental monitoring is critical to ensuring proactive intervention and response to potential catastrophes, so is remote monitoring of batteries and uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Having the ability to detect potential problems early and rapidly respond to defects or degradation maximizes the reliability of UPS battery systems and gives organizations the adaptability needed in today’s dynamic data centers.

5. Security & Access Control

A data centre physical security breach might result in the loss of equipment, but the real danger has to do with data exposure. With companies collecting personally identifiable information in many different forms, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with how well that data is being protected. Any sort of threat to a company’s data, can have a significant impact on reputation and business and result in a large financial loss.

While the likelihood of stealing an entire server is low, an asset tracking solution helps companies manage and track any asset, big or small, in real-time. It can also send out alerts the moment an asset is moved or tampered with, allowing personnel to respond quickly to any threat.

When it comes to monitoring and restricting access to the data center itself, wireless sensors can be used for presence detection and people counting in restricted areas as well as suspicious movements such as opening and closing of doors or windows. Likewise, IoT-enabled locks, card readers and keypads can further monitor and control personnel entering and exiting for a multi-layered approach to security.

Whether it’s an enterprise, managed services, cloud or colocation data center, ensuring the efficient performance of this critical environment is becoming increasingly important. IoT for data center infrastructure management provides a holistic view of current environment conditions, resource usage and security to maximize uptime, increase energy efficiency, lower operating costs and prevent data loss and exposure.


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