Monitoring distributed, edge computing environments has always been something of a challenge given these installations often have no IT personnel on-site. But in the current climate, with so many of us working from home and access to buildings severely curtailed, effective remote monitoring has never been more imperative.
At the same time, edge computing sites are more likely to suffer from downtime, and the cost of downtime is extremely high. Unplanned downtime could cost Fortune 1000 companies up to USD$100 thousand per hour. In aggregation, downtime is costing North American organizations USD$700 billion per year from productivity loss, revenue loss, and the cost to address route cases.
Today, solutions are available that enable companies to monitor edge computing facilities for an array of attributes that address environmental concerns, physical access, and cybersecurity to mitigate downtime risks. From anywhere with an internet connection, you can be alerted to any suspicious, dangerous, or unusual activity and take steps to address it. Effective remote monitoring enables you to protect not only your investment in IT equipment but defend against cyber-attacks launched from those edge facilities.
The key word there is “effective,” as not all remote monitoring solutions are the same. In this post, we’ll go through key attributes to look for and other considerations when having this discussion with your customers.
Environmental monitoring needs
For starters, look for flexibility in the base platform. In some instances, customers likely want to install it in an IT rack while, in others, a wall-mount model may be a better option. The system should also be able to grow along with your requirements, adding additional sensors, monitoring capabilities and capacity.
At the most basic level, customers need to monitor for environmental attributes including temperature, humidity, water leaks, smoke particles, and dust. All of these constitute threats to IT equipment, and hence, to whatever applications the equipment is supporting.
A good monitoring solution should come with sensors for many such attributes but should also support the integration of third-party sensors to expand your options. Similarly, it should be able to feed data up into other management platforms, such as a building management system (BMS) or IT infrastructure management solution, using web services protocols or SNMP.
Bolster security for edge computing sites
A good monitoring tool should also tackle edge computing security risks from a number of angles.
One is physical security, which helps ensure no unauthorized users can access IT equipment. This entails cameras to continually monitor the edge computing environment. The idea is to protect against both accidental access (by well-intentioned cleaning people, for example) and malicious actors.
For many companies, such monitoring is also critical to change management policies that require an audit trail be in place, so you know who touched any IT rack, and when. That helps in case customers need to back out a change, and to identify anyone who made an unauthorized change, perhaps with malicious intent.
It’s also important to consider that any internet-connected device is a potential entry point for an intruder, including anything that’s being remotely monitored, from a UPS to a server. But intruders don’t necessarily have to be on-site to do damage.
A comprehensive approach for monitoring
That’s why the option of a remote monitoring solution to feed into a larger platform is so important. We recommend a cloud-based platform that can conduct security audits on web-connected devices and make sure up-to-date firmware and security protocols are in place. This ensures such devices aren’t easy entry points for hackers. To mitigate risks, organizations that manage edge computing sites need a holistic, comprehensive approach to monitoring.
As an example, APC by Schneider Electric’s environmental monitoring & security solution, NetBotzTM interfaces with the cloud-based management platform, EcoStruxureTM IT and can cover an array of monitoring requirements. Learn more about physical and cybersecurity solution options and take advantage of a free trial of EcoStruxure IT Expert monitoring software for three months as a limited time offer. With this approach, you and your customer can monitor IT infrastructure from wherever you may be working in these unprecedented times.
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