Physical Security and Environmental Monitoring for the Edge

Keeping an eye on the server room is a big challenge, even for companies with an IT staff. While servers hum along in some out-of-the way location, IT professionals usually are busy attending to other matters.

Whether in a purpose built space or a space not designed for the application, as are many server rooms and IT closets, the servers and other critical equipment have to be constantly monitored for temperature and humidity – and to keep unauthorized people away. Failure to monitor the equipment can be costly if an application or storage server overheats or gets wet as a result of a burst pipe or ceiling leak.

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There is also a security component. An unauthorized person walking into a server room can do a lot of damage – even without meaning to. All it takes is hitting the wrong button or unplugging a piece of hardware to create a situation that could lead to downtime.

Protecting Your Investments

Security and environmental monitoring solutions help protect your hardware investments by sending alerts when something goes wrong, prompting administrators to take action to prevent or minimize damage. These solutions are deployed in server rooms, data centers, hardware closets and – as edge computing gains traction – edge sites. For instance, APC’s Netbotz suite includes networked appliances, sensors, access controls and cameras that allow administrators to remotely keep an eye on the sites 24/7.

At the most basic, cameras show if an unauthorized individual walks into an edge location. This could be someone with malicious intent to sabotage the equipment or, as happens more often than businesses care to admit, someone who is well-intentioned and makes a mistake. Cleaning crews, for instance, have been known to unplug critical equipment without realizing they’re shutting down an important system.

Imagine this happening where a medical application is run. The outcome could be disastrous. The same is true if the location suffers a sudden, undetected environmental change. Let’s say a pipe bursts, pouring water into the server room or the air conditioning malfunctions, causing temperatures to soar. Sensitive IT equipment could malfunction and cause downtime.

In case of flooding, or if temperatures get too hot or cold, sensors can be programmed to shutdown critical equipment while emailing an alert to an administrator. Alerting administrators of these situations is absolutely critical, potentially saving customers many millions of dollars in physical damage. Furthermore, additional advanced monitoring via SNMP traps or Modbus allow administrators to be notified through your existing centralized alerting management solution.

Hypercritical Sites

As edge sites start to pop up on the network perimeter, they will require the same attention to maintenance and security as any other server room, IT closet or data center. Edge locations will handle critical applications requiring real-time responses that cannot be handled in the cloud due to latency issues.

Most edge locations will be considered hypercritical. In many cases, they’ll handle a continuous inflow of data from Internet of Things (IoT) systems that requires immediate action.

A site might run a retail application connected to sensors at brick-and-mortar stores that detect the presence of shoppers whose preferences are known to the retailer. Perhaps the retailer wants to display a promotion on a digital signage screen or send a coupon to encourage the shoppers to make a purchase before moving on.

Real-time data transmission is key in this scenario. In other settings it’s even more important, as in cases of applications connected to medical equipment monitoring patients’ health or self-driving cars that make split-second decisions to stop and go.

Certainty in a Connected World

Considering how important edge infrastructure will be to the future of IT, businesses will need to protect them against physical threats, whether environmental or human, with security and environmental remote monitoring solutions.

These solutions are simple to deploy and make it easier to manage multiple edge sites because of their remote capabilities. They cost a fraction of your overall IT environments and deliver peace of mind, bringing you Certainty in a Connected World.

For more on security and environmental monitoring solution, please read our white paper, “Practical Options for Deploying Small Server Rooms and Micro Data Centers.”

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