Environment Monitoring for the SMB Server Room

Last Monday morning, as I walked into our server room, I was greeted by a blast of  126F air and this view of one of our laptops in there.

delllaptop_burning

Just kidding.

(Except for the 126F)

It was strange though, considering we had just installed a dedicated AC unit for our server room that kept it at a nice 68F.

Well, come to find out, we had had a large lightening storm over the weekend which had resulted in a short blackout, which had turned off the AC unit.  Well, even though the AC unit is set to restart after power failure, it did not. (And before you ask, yes, this unit is pretty much a small step up from a SOHO AC unit)

So this week I set out to do some research on an Environment Monitoring system that would alert me if the ambient temperature in the server room reached a certain threshold.

I had 3 main requirements:

-Cheap (<$400)

-Open Protocols (Uses SNMP/Email –> SMS/etc  instead of some proprietary reporting protocol)

-A standalone device, not a dongle attached to a server (less variables for things to go wrong)

-Extensible to possibly include other types of sensors (Not required, but a big plus)

After emailing some of the other network admins in my organization, checking out some sys/network admin resources (ServerFault & Spiceworks) , and of course, Googling it, I have come up with three major choices: (I threw out a few other ones ( SenseTronics) for too pricey and not the features I wanted)

1. IT WatchDogs “MicroGoose”

Price: $199

Pros:

-Cheapest solution from my point of view

-Standalone Device

-POE

-Temperature + Humidity Sensors

Cons:

-Back-ordered (not sure for how long)

-No extensibility for other types of sensors

-Not really alot of detailed information available on their website

2. AVTECH Room Alert 4E

Price: $375

Pros:

-Temperature & Power Monitoring

-Extensible Sensors (Could add another sensor such as movement detection, water detection, server room door open, etc)

Cons:

-A bit more expensive, but still within the budget

-Not POE like the MicroGoose

-No Humidity Monitoring, unlike the MicroGoose

3. APC AP9631 Network Management card with Environment Monitoring

Price: $370

Pros:

-Temperature and Humidity monitoring

-Power monitoring (with alot more detail than the AVTECH device)

Cons:

-A bit more expensive, but still within the budget

-Not quite a standalone device, but still close enough

-Not extensible like the AVTECH device

Out of the three above choices, I decided to go for the APC device specifically for the Power Monitoring feature–If you didn’t notice in the opening story, we didn’t get alerts that we were on UPS power, because we don’t have a UPS alerting system in place.  And even though the AVTECH device allowed for power monitoring, it wont give the kind of detail that the APC will.

Josh

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3 thoughts on “Environment Monitoring for the SMB Server Room

  1. W. Scott Dunn says:

    Hello Josh – Can you give us an update on your experience with the APC solution? Thanks for your contributions. – Scott

    Like

    • Josh says:

      Sure can Scott. I have nothing but good things to say about the APC solution–It just works, and the features are very configurable. As long as you dont need other type of environment monitoring (cameras, etc), then I would personally recommend the APC solution.

      Like

  2. Mo says:

    Hi Josh,

    Thank you for your review. We’ve made a few changes at ITWatchDogs, including a newer and more robust website offering in-depth product info.

    ITW’s monitors are now all expandable where you can add additional sensors including power failure, power usage/switching among others. Our WatchDog 15 device replaces the MicroGoose and starts at only $189! It’s got on-board temp/humidity monitoring with an option to add PoE at $30 more. Add up to 4 add’l sensors to the device.

    Hope your server room’s been running smoothly :)

    Mo Sheikh
    Marketing Manager
    ITWatchDogs

    Like

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