Picture this scenario: As the IT manager for a large data center, you get a call from a technician who informs you that a fire has swept through your facility. It wiped out well over a million dollars of servers, other equipment, and, of course, business-critical data. At least the employee lounge was spared.
As important as a remote monitoring system is under normal operating conditions, it becomes even more critical during disasters. Whatever the cause, earthquakes, floods, or fires, a problem at your data facility can cripple your organization’s ability to deliver products and services in a timely manner, and, consequently, spell doom for the entire enterprise.
While larger enterprises may emerge from a disaster relatively unscathed, smaller operators simply lack the resources to pull through. According to FEMA, 40%-60% of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster, mainly because of the loss of critical records and data. And, in today’s hyper-competitive business world, most companies simply cannot afford to be “offline” even for a short period of time.
While you cannot predict when disasters will strike, you can, however, prepare for them. Preparing for a natural disaster, man-made crisis, security incident, or other disruptive event is of the utmost importance. Preparing for disasters of any kind should be a priority for every IT manager, and they would do well to heed the words of Benjamin Franklin who famously remarked: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
In our increasingly digital world, digital resilience has become as important a layer of organizational defense. Whether you’re just starting to think through these issues or you’ve had them on your radar for a while, here are some steps you can take and tools you can use now to ensure your organization is ready to weather any storm.
Disasters Threaten Data Facilities
No event has amplified the dynamic of organizational risk more than the pandemic. With employees forced to stay home, many organizations had to quickly transition to remote work arrangements. In most cases, security and IT infrastructure weren’t ready. Shoppers went online in droves. This put pressure on manufacturers, logistics companies, and of course, data centers. Internet use surged, as did outages.
To get a sense of how things played out, let's head to Italy — a country hit particularly hard by COVID-19. In just one month in 2020, Microsoft registered an astounding 775% increase in monthly users of its Teams cloud collaboration service. In March and early April, Google’s video chat services were adding a staggering 2 million new users a day! That meant all those new users need solid data center infrastructure to provide adequate network services and keep data secure.
Data centers are mission-critical to many industries and social media networks are no exception. In 2014, Facebook suffered its biggest worldwide outage after updating the configuration of one of its software systems. Things obviously didn’t go to plan and the outage resulted in Facebook’s millions of users being unable to access the platform. While the outage only lasted 31 minutes, users quickly migrated to other platforms.
Mark Zuckerberg and co have clearly learned a hard lesson. The tech giant has now adopted what some term a daring approach to testing data center resiliency. It regularly shuts down entire data center sites to evaluate the impact of a given disaster and then determine how to make their data centers more resilient. If a behemoth like Facebook can trip up, then small businesses are even more vulnerable.
Like any other business, data centers are exposed to risks from natural disasters every day. Hurricanes and tornadoes can take out local power grids, earthquakes can level entire buildings, and floods can render even the most advanced backup systems useless. Data centers must be prepared for these types of scenarios with proper mitigation strategies.
Risk management and disaster management entail identifying and preventing as many threats as one can. Remote monitoring technology, like RF Code’s automated physical asset tracking and real-time environmental monitoring solutions, provides visibility and analytics about the location and environmental conditions of IT assets in data centers, colocation, and edge sites.
Unfortunately, it’s not a question of if disaster will strike, but when. Just ask Google, who, in 2015, saw one of their European data centers struck by lightning not once, not twice, but four times! Or Vodafone, which suffered one of the worst data center disasters when its Istanbul data center was devastated by flooding in 2009.
A single outage can have devastating consequences. Disasters mean downtime, costing your business money and clients. With remote management, you have real-time insights into local conditions. This lets you analyze the likelihood of potential hazards and take preventive action.
Remote Management is Essential to Disaster Preparedness
Lost revenues and missed opportunities from disaster-induced downtime can sink a data center, colocation facility, or edge location. Decentralized and unmanned sites like hospitals and retail locations may rely on server closets. When power outages hit, there is no IT person on-site to deal with a lights-out situation.
Downtime impacts patient care. The key to avoiding this: risk mitigation with approaches like RF Code for remote management. The more info you have on the power supply, the environment, the IT equipment, and other relevant elements, the better prepared you are to manage risk management activities, instead of engaging in disaster recovery efforts.
RF Code combines innovative hardware and software to give you instant and total alerts anywhere. It’s like you’re on-site even when you’re not. Track, monitor, and protect all of your assets without any hassle. Trend analysis complements the real-time alerts and live video to cover your servers before, during, and after an emergency.
The unique needs of edge data centers render ideal opportunities for off-site monitoring. These installations face heightened security risks, and the cost-efficient solution from RF Code offers you the safety and confidence to face down disaster.
From enterprise data centers to edge computing facilities, no facility is entirely risk-free. Visibility into how systems are working, how they withstand power outages or extreme weather conditions, or the careful monitoring of air conditioning, heating, and water will help to reduce that risk.
Remote management tools let you keep tabs on your facility from afar. Monitoring both the data center environment and assets is the best way to identify and deal with issues before they turn into crises, whether it’s a power failure, a leak, a missing asset. By monitoring the heat, humidity, and ventilation in your data center, you can ensure the safety of your assets and mitigate potential damage to your systems.
You want to know precisely where your assets are at all times. In the event of a disaster, you can immediately see what assets are affected and how. Having an accurate, automated system can help you to quickly detect things such as adverse weather developments, environmental anomalies (e.g. high heat, humidity, water), power loss, and leaks.
Let's take the example of a co-location company that had an air conditioner leak in its data center, but its own, manual systems showed 100% efficiency. With remote monitoring, the business could’ve detected the leak before it became a bigger problem affecting servers. Toiling with legacy systems can prove damaging for businesses as the example shows. Smart solutions like RF Code remote monitoring can however detect such threats quickly and instantly trigger alerts.
As Scott Gamble, IT Manager for Digital Fortress puts it: “Ten minutes can be the difference between things being OK and a serious problem.”
The COVID Pandemic Exemplifies the Need for Disaster Readiness
COVID-19 has amplified the need for online data center monitoring. Remote data center management enables organizations to protect their valuable assets even if their employees don’t directly step foot in the facilities. It’s safer and it costs less.
With remote monitoring and management capabilities, you can assess and control servers from anywhere, regardless of whether there’s a public health crisis or not. It’s not hard to see why these technologies are fast becoming critical elements of many data centers’ disaster readiness plans.
A disaster like COVID or a flood affects people’s ability to work, as well as a range of other personal activities. Telemedicine, video conferences, cloud computing, and online education rank among the areas requiring reliable uptime even in the face of disaster.
Aside from disaster preparedness, remote management is fast becoming the trend. Disasters, like the pandemic, served to highlight the necessity of remote management solutions. With the internet architecture moving rapidly to edge data centers, which are often unstaffed, there’s added urgency to manage infrastructure remotely.
An accompanying trend is the push of data operations towards an ever more global market. Remote management tools like RF Code’s CenterScape support data centers anywhere, allowing IT managers to handle assets as if they were local. Business operations for increasingly mobile workers depend on consistent and reliable access that you can deliver through automated monitoring – especially if disaster strikes.
In a sense, the data center industry is catching up with industries that have already gone remote, like logistics. While data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software offers some automation capacity, it has, until recently, only done so only locally. Leveraging RF Code solutions, you can completely monitor your data facilities from anywhere and in real-time.
The pandemic focused attention on the need for the adaptability proffered by remote data center management software. The same need also applies to hurricanes or any other disasters that threaten data centers.
RF Code Tools for Remote Management and Monitoring
Smart software will maximize your asset utilization while saving you money and protecting your data facilities. RF Code offers remote management and monitoring solutions for the entire asset management lifecycle. These innovative tools are fast, accurate, reliable.
In tandem with radio frequency-enabled asset tracking, you’ll have sensors transmitting details on core aspects of the environment. You get instant notifications of any motions, temperature changes, or power status changes. You can even monitor the facility via live video.
Armed with these tools, you can quickly spot potential problem areas, intervene accordingly, and prevent disasters from happening. This has added value for unstaffed sites because you can protect them as if you had IT personnel physically on-site. And if you do send a technician to attend to an issue, then the same technology assists the technician in rapidly locating the necessary assets.
Audit asset inventory and manage assets throughout their entire lifecycle, regardless of location. With RF Code’s CenterScape, you can plan capacity and track asset deployments, location changes, and decommissions in real-time for complete and effective remote IT management. This revolutionizes the gamut of data center operations but specifically empowers you to respond to the pressing need for disaster prevention.
CenterScape integrates seamlessly with other data center management tools –data center infrastructure management (DCIM), building management systems (BMS), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and more.
The Advantages of Active RFID
There are an estimated 7.2 million data centers worldwide today, powering the booming telecommunications, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and financial sectors. They often incorporate large complex clusters of the latest technologies such as hyperscale computing, IoT, AI, and machine learning, as well as 5G.
As the foundation of the data-driven world economy, it is essential for data centers to have an easy-to-deploy solution to track and manage assets. With large volumes of expensive equipment (hard drives, servers, individual IoT devices) constantly moving in and out for maintenance or reconfiguration, having a system in place that is precise and reliable is paramount. Deficient and outdated asset and tracking management systems will result in reduced asset utilization, lost revenue, and regulatory compliance concerns.
In today’s mission-critical data center setting, existing –read outmoded– asset tracking systems are simply not up to the task. More importantly, manual processes pose a sizable risk for loss or error. In fact, IT asset managers at companies that use outdated manual asset tracking and inventory processes like passive RFID technology, barcode scanners or clipboards, and spreadsheets routinely report an annual average of 15% inventory inaccuracy.
RF Code’s active RFID-powered solutions deliver real-time asset tracking and protection for any data center environment, from Enterprise to Colo to Edge. RF Code’s cutting-edge, real-time asset management and environmental monitoring solutions combine active RFID asset location, environmental sensors, dedicated reader infrastructure, and powerful data center management software to deliver a precise end-to-end data center solution.
Core Features of RF Code’s Tracking and Remote Management Solution
Asset Location and Environmental Monitoring Sensors – Patented active RFID sensors attached to each IT asset. These sensors enable the automation of locating and managing tagged assets throughout their entire lifespan, from delivery through deployment to retirement. RF Code sensors are wireless, making them easy to install and deploy in different data center settings.
Dedicated Reader Infrastructure – Paired with active RFID sensors, RF Code readers are easy to install. They work with RF Code’s infrared-powered rack and room locators to provide constant visibility of asset locations and the environmental conditions surrounding them.
They are equipped to handle long read ranges, edge monitoring, and multiple data streams generated by thousands of asset location and environmental sensors. With these powerful capabilities, RF Code readers streamline deployment and ensure continuous real-time asset visibility.
CenterScape Software – RF Code’s CenterScape software is designed to address the most challenging needs of data centers; from design to management to operations. Its open API implementation allows data centers to pair CenterScape with other applications typically used in the data center space. These include help-desk and customer solutions, BMS services, ITSM, and DCIM platforms.
With RF Code remote management and monitoring, you can cost-effectively track assets, power, and the environment to mitigate risk. Enterprises are already benefiting from RF Code’s real-time asset management. Companies like HP, Digital Fortress, and Vodafone have saved millions of dollars... you can too.
Protect Against Risks with RF Code
Automated remote management tools help to mitigate the effects of disasters. They significantly lessen the likelihood of problems, plus they make recovery easier. Monitoring your data facilities offers a low total cost with fast enough ROI making it a sound investment.
RF Code provides camera-based visibility and instant alert notifications that deliver the remote monitoring information necessary for effective remote management, problem determination, and resolution.
RF Code Remote Management and Remote Monitoring Solutions are simple to set up, easy to use, yet extremely effective.
They rest on three pillars and enable you to:
Accuracy – Eliminate costly, error-prone, and inaccurate manual processes and avoid costly downtime.
Accountability – Make informed decisions and ensure regulatory compliance.
Savings – Reduce operating expenses, maximize asset utilization, deliver ROI, and strengthen the commercial viability of your data centers.
Schedule a demo today and find out how RF Code can help scale your disaster preparedness efforts, while improving efficiency, saving money, and reducing risk.