In the data center world, innovation means “survival!” But innovation should not make systems more complicated, rather it should make systems usable and useful by focusing on the users, their needs, and requirements. However, the problem is that the human-centric approach to data center management is often overlooked, which places undue stress on managers as they question the integrity of intelligent data received from facility devices and systems. Questioning the data’s integrity or in some cases—a complete lack of visibility into mission-critical devices—breeds a lack of confidence in a facility’s overall operations. These blind spots are keeping managers up at night with a feeling of being “out-of-control” that should never be associated with running a data center.
There is an existing problem in the industry today where a data center’s facility infrastructure does not always allow data center operators to further instrument the white space with monitoring and measurement devices to collect data on the overall environment. In addition, data center security managers needing to protect a facility—right down to the cabinet/rack level—don’t have the flexible options to augment existing security systems.
The human-centric approach is not a throwback to a “physically extracting information from devices” time period, it’s about harnessing intelligence to be as confident as possible in your decision-making process. Layering intelligence to continually gather information and unlock environment patterns that could be detrimental to operations brings a true feeling of control and abolishes that sensation of driving at night with no headlights.
Device Options that Reduce Stress
No data center manager wants to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat second-guessing power, temperature, rack security, and other environmental factors. One cure to this nighttime stress involves augmenting existing infrastructure with devices that promote user insight as well as intuitive usability so the user can regain control of their operational environments. For example, Intelligent Power Distribution Units (PDUs) with remote power management capabilities can be augmented with various smart sensors to provide real-time situational awareness or even environment alerts, notifying you immediately when something is astray. This proactive approach can increase the response time needed to remediate critical risks. For example, Intelligent PDUs paired with environmental sensors allow users to easily recognize hotspots and provide the right amount of cooling to proactively prevent costly downtime or to save money by not overcooling. For those installations where Intelligent PDUs were never implemented, solutions like Smart Rack Controllers can be added to Edge, remote equipment closets or data center locations where Basic PDUs may have been deployed. These intelligent sensor management solutions serve as a central connection point for environmental monitoring, asset location, physical access and other monitoring and security sensors.
These devices are able to reduce a manager’s stress by bringing a human-centric approach to data center design. Facility managers need to be equipped with an intelligent standalone platform that shows the granular environmental, asset location, and physical asset control information sensors provide. Imagine the feeling of control received when sensors placed throughout the facility are measuring variables along a row of cabinets or sounding the alarm when physical devices such as door handles and card readers have been accessed without proper authorization. In addition, many of these rack-mounted PDUs and intelligent sensor management solutions offer a high-degree of automation to turn devices on and off and auto-map the exact PDU outlet a device is plugged into. Best of all, installing many of these devices is not an “Alka-Seltzer” moment—many can be installed without disrupting or changing the power configurations of rack or cabinet equipment.
In the same manner that there is “an app for that,” there is also a “sensor for that.” Data center managers can plug-in sensors to monitor and alert on many other things such as humidity and add water sensors smart enough to detect leaks, airflow sensors to pick up pressure differentials, or air particle sensors to monitor corrosiveness.
Peace of Mind With DCIM Solutions
Mission-critical facilities have tens-of-millions of dollars invested in devices that now extend from the typical data center rack to cell towers and street corners; owners want to know precisely where they are all located. While there may already be some measurement instruments in place within a facility to meet minimum requirements, those instruments are not always recording data in the same way or connected to the same monitoring/measurement devices and systems. Exacerbating this situation for managers, Building Management Systems (BMS) cannot effectively scale to achieve proper data center visibility, leaving the data center manager another black hole to contend with.
The good news is that Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solutions integrate with intelligent rack PDUs and smart sensors to advance the human-centric capabilities into the realm of true data-driven intelligence through a single-pane-of-glass. A holistic view is important because many data centers are operating in a “lights-out” fashion, and other IT managers seldom travel to the physical data center locations as they did in the pre-pandemic world. Making DCIM even more valuable at the human level means plugging these solutions into other platforms such as ServiceNow via a Splunk approach, open API, or even in-house script creation.
Put The Focus On Users and Needs
The human-centric value of monitoring smart data centers is all about focusing on the users, their needs, and the overall data center environment. A big part of this approach is to apply a layer of intelligence to empower the user to confidently control the vast IT ecosystem. Today there are simple and proven tools to make facility monitoring fundamentally easier. But the right tools need to be in place—or the process remains a manual task that may put the facility manager into a stressful situation from the very systems put in place to make lives easier.