APC's good Big Brother
Capable NetBotz monitoring system usefully combines multiple sensors and surveillanceFollow @pvenezia
How’s the weather in your datacenter? Could you pull up a time line graph of temperature, humidity, and maybe even video footage of the room on a whim? Using APC’s NetBotz monitoring appliances and InfraStruXure Central management console, you could.
Environmental monitoring for server rooms, wiring closets, and datacenters isn’t exactly uncommon, but advances in this field are making it far easier to tap into that data and make it work for you. APC’s NetBotz solution provides a wide array of sensors, microphones, and cameras, as well as software that ties it all together. In the past few months, I’ve installed a number of NetBotz hardware sensors and cameras in and around the lab and fed all of their data into the APC InfraStruXure Central server. I’ve never had so much information on the climate in the lab, not to mention the video clips of me swearing mightily while trying to rack a 130-pound Sun server.
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Other NetBotz models include the NetBotz 400 and the NetBotz 420, which is a rack-mount version of the 400. These are lower-end units that offer most of the environmental monitoring capabilities of the 500 but lack the USB ports to connect other sensors or cameras.
Fly on the wall
The NetBotz appliances are bulky and a bit unwieldy, with the WallBotz 500’s cabling scattered along the bottom of the unit and the fixed camera lens requiring manual focus. In a datacenter environment, it would be simpler to have all the sensors and cameras cabled back to a rack-mount unit, allowing cameras to be placed where needed without having to worry about the placement of unrelated sensor leads. This is possible but requires putting in place more hardware than is strictly necessary. That said, each NetBotz unit I tested was built like a tank, and they withstood far more abuse than a normal environment is likely to dish out.
Each sensor pod or camera pod can be docked directly to a compatible NetBotz unit, or cabled off using standard USB cabling. The maximum distance for USB 1.1 is 80 feet, and you can go this distance with the NetBotz pods using USB extension cables, which are surprisingly expensive. Once in place, sensors for temperature, humidity, dew point, water presence, and airflow are available, as are magnetic triggers to record when datacenter doors are opened. Each of these sensors can be managed independently, given their own alert thresholds, and controlled by scriptable actions. With the speaker outputs on the camera pods, it’s even possible for WAV files to be played through those speakers when a threshold is met. This means that if you want the USS Enterprise door snick to be played whenever the datacenter door is opened, you can have your wish.