The Director of Information Technology at The Big Easy Casino in South Florida experienced a nightmare scenario when a new multimillion-dollar water-chilling system went down. There were signs in the centralized MDF room, but he wasn’t aware. He and his small team are responsible for the uptime and maintenance of critical infrastructure at six company-owned properties and can’t be everywhere at once. South Florida humidity and heat without air conditioning can be brutal on people let alone critical infrastructure like servers.
With these sorts of cooling systems, whenever anything critical happens—such as sudden power shutdowns or system failures—it usually takes around 15 minutes to clue into any changes. However, during this particular A/C system failure, it took the IT department four hours to realize that something was amiss. Instead of having more time to perform a graceful shutdown of equipment, the department had to hurriedly yank power cords and execute thermal shutdowns to avoid overheating.
According to the Director of IT, had they known immediately, they could’ve reduced—even prevented—downtime and equipment damage. Aside from the disruption of casino operations, there was thankfully no equipment loss that day; however, the incident likely took years off the lifespan of the servers, switches, audio distribution equipment, and battery racks that were impacted.
Had there been eyes on critical infrastructure, damage and loss could've been avoided. Real-time remote IT equipment monitoring could have provided the situational awareness to pre-empt a problem from emerging in the first place.
As IT services move in a more decentralized direction—closer to end-users—remote IT locations take on an ever more important role in business operations. Your remote servers are just as mission-critical as any enterprise-level data center, and they should be monitored with the same degree of importance. However, that doesn't mean you can take existing server monitoring software and apply it to remote IT! These enterprise-level solutions, meant for large-scale operations, don't scale down to remote IT environments effectively.
Enterprise-level software is often costly, complicated, and location-limited. And rigging multiple types of sensors and cameras may provide independent data points but no real-time contextual and actionable insights. So if existing strategies like these are all you have, where can you turn for distributed facility server monitoring that is simple, affordable, insightful, and scalable?
A Better Approach to Remote IT Monitoring of Distributed Locations
Applying enterprise server monitoring solutions to decentralized IT spaces is like trying to force a round peg into a square hole. The challenges and needs at distributed IT locations are simply different and require a unique approach.
For example, data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solutions are built and deployed on a site-by-site basis. While these cumbersome solutions are expensive, they work because they manage and monitor hundreds of servers in one location at once. This obviously works for instances where servers are concentrated in one expansive location—when it comes to doing the same for many smaller IT spaces, the costs to scale become prohibitive.
Enterprise-level environmental monitoring benefits from dedicated, trained on-site staff. The same can't be said for remote IT locations, which often go unsupervised instead. This forces IT and Network Operation professionals to consider a more agile, off-premises approach to maximize. IT teams should pivot towards an all-in-one remote environmental monitoring system that can provide real-time visibility and actionable insights for critical infrastructure at many locations simultaneously. Eyes everywhere.
A Look at Popular IT Environmental Monitoring Software
The good news is that a handful of environmental monitoring software solutions are available in the current market that provides needed data inputs. However, most are expensive, difficult to set up and configure, require cabling, and lack arguably the most important value of all needed for remote IT spaces—contextualized insights. IT professionals need to know not just what is going on but how a situation occurred. We call this situational awareness. Without it, it could take hours to detect, diagnose, and remediate a critical infrastructure problem. With real-time alerts and proper context, situations can even be prevented.
This is why we developed Sentry. To provide a next-generation IT environmental monitoring tool engineered for distributed locations. Let's dive into some of the available options and see how Sentry stacks up again alternative solutions in the market.
NetBotz Edge Solutions
Schneider Electric's NetBotz monitoring systems aim to protect against environmental and unauthorized access threats that can lead to unplanned downtime in IT spaces, at both the remote and enterprise level. However, installing NetBotz systems requires extensive professional assistance and a high degree of technical understanding, unlike Sentry's plug-and-play setup.
The best remote IT monitoring systems must provide 24/7 surveillance without fail. NetBotz might leave you in the dark without battery backup or cloud storage if the power goes out or its memory gets damaged.
Also, the NetBotz system doesn't come with temperature, humidity, shock, or vibration sensors. Instead, they're paid add-ons. Sentry offers users all those necessities, including thermal imaging and built-in cameras.
With several unique models, Rhombus tries to maximize visibility and awareness with enterprise-level video security and IoT sensors. Rhombus also helps organizations keep track of individual assets with their T1 sensors.
While Rhombus solves a handful of problems for enterprise-level data centers, it's more of a video monitoring solution for office spaces, public facilities, and retail theft prevention. As a whole, it's somewhat incompatible with remote IT spaces. A lack of cloud storage (only 20 days) and battery backup leave you susceptible to blind spots in decentralized IT locations. Rhombus also has a complex installation process that requires professional assistance.
Similar to NetBotz, Rhombus also requires users to pay for added sensors—sensors already built into Sentry. Sentry provides full LTE connectivity, while Rhombus falls short of the mark.
Cisco Meraki uses IoT devices to deliver smart tracking solutions across your organization. But while Meraki's smart cameras make managing and tracking assets easy, its environmental sensors don't hold up in remote IT locations. Like Rhombus, Meraki focuses more on security, with the environmental aspect of the solution geared more toward automation and control of spaces.
Like Rhombus and NetBotz, Meraki's IT sensors require professional installation. They also forgo battery backup and LTE connectivity, two core features of Sentry's server monitoring software. Furthermore, Meraki's limited 4MP camera resolution and lack of thermal imaging hinder efficiency in remote IT spaces.
The “MacGyver Solution”
Once they realize their current server monitoring software doesn’t work in remote IT spaces, some IT teams turn to the “MacGyver” strategy, piecing together a number of small-scale alternatives into an unwieldy, haphazard system.
It's safe to say that these companies are unaware of the available all-in-one solutions like Sentry. Instead, they sink money into a series of stand-alone cameras, thermostats, and sensors. While those tools might provide base helpful data, they won't piece that data together to offer real insight into anomalies occurring inside your server closets.
Because these MacGyvered tools work independently, you may get a reading on one that the others don't validate. Instead, an all-in-one solution ensures the cameras, sensors, and thermostats work in unison and synthesizes data to offer a clear status update.
Sentry: Server Monitoring Software Designed for Remote IT Spaces
When enterprise-level solutions don't work and the MacGyver strategy proves inefficient, companies must turn to an all-in-one server monitoring software to manage their remote IT spaces. In comes Sentry, the comprehensive solution from RF Code.
Sentry is easy to install, cost-effective, and incredibly user-friendly. At the same time, Sentry offers more detailed insights into remote IT spaces than the competition. So how does Sentry improve upon the shortcomings of the limited options mentioned before?
First and foremost, Sentry provides around the clock, real-time monitoring of your unmanned remote IT locations. These server closets may be spread across the country—or even around the world! You can't keep your eyes on them 24/7, and hiring IT professionals to maintain these small-scale locations just isn't cost-effective.
Sentry works as a comprehensive console, providing your IT team with insight into any and all environmental changes in your remote IT spaces. The unit provides real-time visual access and data-backed reports from wherever you’ve deployed a Sentry device.
Anything can happen in a remote IT space, from a simple human blunder to more unpredictable environmental threats. Disaster can strike at any minute, leading to costly server downtime. Thankfully, Sentry comes with a battery backup, ensuring constant visibility over your assets even after the location loses power or the network goes down. What’s more, Sentry users can also rely on an LTE backup to keep their systems in constant communication.
Considering all of Sentry's features, the device and software remain very accessible for even the least tech-savvy operator. All you need is an internet connection to get up and running; once Sentry connects to your network, set up the app and pair the device with your dashboard.
Sentry's all-in-one software helps you maintain 24/7 visibility into your remote IT locations. Is it time for you to upgrade your server monitoring software? Learn more about how Sentry can better protect your servers today.