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Seeing the bigger data centre picture

Data Centre

There are three layers to successful data centre management: technology, the conditions within the facility, and the people. Managing all of these layers requires a carefully designed approach, taking into consideration all of the potential threats a data centre might be exposed to. Martin Hodgson, country manager, UK & Ireland at Paessler AG tells us more.

It’s vital that businesses have one single holistic picture of how well their data centre is performing. This can be challenging given the multiple tools and solutions that work in isolation to check the various aspects in play within the data centre.

The environment inside the data centre

The overall environment of a data centre needs to be carefully regulated on a frequent basis. The temperature level needs to be monitored so that the equipment can operate efficiently.

Computers generate heat and are negatively impacted by it. The consequences of overheating can be serious as they can lead to potential breakdowns and they can increase the wear on fragile IT components over time.

This could effectively reduce the lifespan of the machine and increase the overall operating costs of a large data centre. Air conditioning is a suitable remedy to this issue, it isn’t a cheap solution but it’s a necessary one.

The real challenge that facility managers face is to regulate the temperature throughout the building and make sure that there aren’t any hot spots or that it gets too cool (otherwise this will incur high costs).

If the environment gets too cold, this could be an indicator for defect or wrongly adjusted HVAC devices.

The good news is that it’s possible to easily monitor the temperature of IT equipment via SNMP or an API. Even if the air conditioning system is old and monitoring is only accessible via protocols such as Modbus TCP or OPC UA, businesses now have the opportunity to invest in a monitoring tool that is able to support various protocols.

This means that it can still monitor the temperature of these outdated or aging air conditioning units. With a singular monitoring platform at hand, IT and facility managers will be able to instantly monitor and determine the health of the physical data centre environment, without having to ensure compare, and contrast various reports from different monitoring systems.

Physical security controls

Security is a central aspect of data centre management that needs to be addressed by both IT and facility managers. Data is a company’s most precious asset and needs to be protected both online as well as physically.

The threat from intruders is a constant risk that needs to be managed that’s why built-in safety features should be integrated into the building such as access control systems, video surveillance and 24/7 onsite security guards.

Regular audits should be carried out to identify potential risks, hazards and entry points. CCTV can also be effective in detecting intruders as well as picking up smoke from a fire in the building.

Implementing a system that monitors the physical security of the data centre is a must.

Having a system that incorporates 24/7 monitoring, surveillance data collection, the ability to display all information in clearly arranged dashboards, central alarm system integration, will give facility managers more control when ensuring the data centre’s physical security.

Online security controls

Simply protecting the computers and equipment is not enough to make data centres safe from threats. The implementation of cybersecurity software and architecture are crucial in order to prevent data breaches.

IT managers need to make sure that they ring fence the data, having company-wide ‘zero trust’ policy is said to be one of the only ways to reduce data breaches. This model recognises that trust is a vulnerability, therefore the architecture of the IT system should be set up in a way that access to certain data is only granted on an individual basis.

By creating software enabled security perimeters around data means that employees can’t have access to all of the company’s online assets. Firewalls and virus scanners are also necessary elements of a secure IT infrastructure that every IT manager should put in place across all devices that have access the company server.

Regularly monitoring how these are performing and checking if there are any holes in the online security perimeter is essential in order to ensure that the company isn’t left vulnerable to data breaches or that any data is compromised.

Power in the data centre

Power supply and power consumption are among the key issues in data centre operations. First and foremost, the power supply for IT and facilities must be guaranteed at all times. Power failures lead to massive outages, SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are violated, enormous costs are incurred. To compensate for power outages, data centres usually have two emergency systems:

UPS devices

The uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is usually provided by battery-powered devices that can bridge short local power failures or compensate for local voltage fluctuations.

In case of failure of the general power supply, UPS devices bridge the start-up time of the generator of an AEV system. With UPS devices, it is important to monitor the battery charge and/or the possible bridging time.


Standby Power Systems (SPS), also known as Emergency Power Systems, often consist of generators.

They take over the power supply in the event of normal power loss. Depending on the technology used, tank levels have to be monitored, but the operating temperature can also play a role if the generator is constantly kept at a certain temperature in order to be ready for operation more quickly in case of an emergency.

Powering the data centre is fundamental and keeping the lights on requires constant attention. Managers can rest assured with the help of a single monitoring tool that can monitor all relevant parameters of UPS devices and SPS, via SNMP, Modbus TCP, OPC UA or via API, depending on the device in use, thus ensuring the power supply even in case of malfunctions or failures. 

Managing the full view of the data centre can sometimes cause those in charge to feel overwhelmed, especially when data is sprawled across teams and reported back in differing ways.

To take back the reins, businesses should look to invest in a monitoring tool that can simultaneously ensure that the lights stay on whilst ensuring the data centre is protected from online attacks.

With all monitored data coming into a centralised system, IT and facility managers can turn their attention to wider business priorities knowing that they can get a full picture at the touch of a button.

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