How Do You Maintain a Microclimate in a Server Room?

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  • Created Date: 2014-09-21
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My name is Marat, as for now I'm an IT specialist in a wide range of areas, almost any-key. In my review I would like to pay a reader's attention to systems of microclimate maintaining and monitoring in a server room.

After having got an experience of work in various organisations with different stuff as well as a different budget level, it became clear and obvious to me that the last thing for which an administration is ready to pay is a climate control system in a server room. A server room historically happened to be the most uncomfortable room that can be imagined. However, this fact is not that bad, if your server room is situated somewhere in a faraway basement, where it is cold the most part of a year even with no air conditioner. But what to do when a server room is decided to be in an attic? In this case an air conditioner is a strict must-have.

During many years of my work I happened to see extremely different server rooms: server rooms in a kitchen, when they had to argue with security officers to leave windows opened and never turn on heaters in the kitchen; server rooms in an office where a temperature of a server operation was directly influenced by a person who had an air conditioner remote control. I also had an experience of work with a server room where an air conditioner worked 24 hours 7 days a week and they had no climate monitoring at all. I.e. in case if a conditioner fails on a weekend, equipment can get overheated. Actually, it did happen four years after beginning of its operation: once a liquid begin to flow from a split-system and we had to change it. As for now I think about equipping a server room with climate control systems. Ideally I plan to install temperature, humidity, supply voltage and smoke sensors as well as an IP-camera to have an actual picture of a room. I plan to connect devices to a router from a provider using Ethernet + I need a GSM gateway to send messages about critical statuses of a system. I am going to purchase an IP camera separately; most probably it will be inexpensive Hikvision in a standard body. I will plug it to a provider’s router.

I have chosen two solutions for analysis: NetPing and Sky Control.

Well, our task is to ensure a climate control in a server room according to the following parameters:

  • Temperature;
  • Humidity;
  • Smoke detector;
  • Supply voltage sensor;
  • Visual control.

Below you can see a list of basic devices for analysis:

So, let us begin.

Both devices have a nearly the same set of necessary functions for me.

Their dimensions are standard to be mounted into a 19'' 1U closet. A power consumption of Sky Control is 6-18 Watts, the one of NetPing is unknown. But there is a difference that caught my eye: NetPing equipment can work with as low voltage as 110 V, which may be critical sometimes when there comes an issue with a power supply. However I would not exclude that switching power supply unit is possibly built into Sky Control equipment as well.

Both devices have an IEC 14 power socket hence it should not be an issue to plug them to a common UPS.

In addition, you can order temperature, humidity and smoke sensors. However, it is possible to plug a three-in-one sensor: SC460 / Smoke, humidity and temperature sensor to Sky Control devices, at the same time it is possible to plug a two-in-one humidity and temperature sensor 1-wire, (HS) to NetPing devices. Again, there is a need to take into account that a smoke sensor will be definitely mounted on a ceiling, and a temperature measured on a ceiling is not necessarily the same as the one in a server closet. In any case readings of a sensor will be useful for monitoring. Additionally, I plan to install temperature sensors directly into server closets, because in my case only one air conditioner is used to cool the entire server room with two server closets.

I would like to examine a network voltage sensor more precisely.

Sky Control offers a sensor for measuring voltage while NetPing offers only a supply voltage sensor, according to its description. A necessity to measure a precise value of a voltage in a remote monitoring system is more likely a bonus rather than an advantage. In my case I decided to install three sensors: the first one into a city network, the second one into a voltage converter network (inverter + batteries) and the third one into a UPS network. The reason for such solution is a desire to have an entire picture of batteries life time till a generator starts when there is no power supply during off hours, and when a server room is a single power consumer. 

As I already mentioned above, I will purchase a camera individually, choosing something like Hikvision, a simple and convenient camera to watch a server room when sensors are triggered. I will install a memory card inside a camera to record a picture constantly.

Summary:

Both solutions are similar by their specifications and features of pluggable sensors, but there are several differences, that seem obvious to me:

  1. NetPing equipment does not use operating systems while c devices have Linux installed;
  2. NetPing solutions have such great features as a built-in GSM module and therefore a possibility to control an air conditioner remotely (turning on/turning off);
  3. Sky Control solutions pleasantly surprise by a feature of measuring a voltage value, which is crucially important when a network voltage is below a normal one;
  4. Sky Control solutions allow to plug a USB-camera to a monitoring device.

I was not able to find any pictures on the Sky Control web site. At the same time NetPing has a wiring diagram, represented below:

UniPing server solution v4SMS - connected sensors

I do not claim my review to be an ultimate truth, it is only an attempt to compare solutions of approximately similar level. Hence you are welcome to comment on the article if I still missed something.

I hope my review will be helpful.

Thank you for your attention! Based on materials http://www.skycontrol.com/ru/ and http://www.netpingdevice.com/


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