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Server Room Environment Monitoring?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the keeping-your-boxen-comfortable dept.

Technology 40

WizardX asks: "At my new job we are in the process of starting to Do Things Right(tm). One of these things is putting the computer room (where the IT staff also resides), on its own cooling circuit. We want to monitor and track the temp and humidity in the room. The tracking part makes it more difficult. I really am not familiar with devices to do this. I plan on monitoring with MRTG, so a device that could plug into our network would be nice, but as long as it can dump the data to a computer (*nix or Windows, I really don't care) I will be happy. What have you seen or used?" I think the submitter is looking for something along the line of these devices, but maybe some of you have run into something better?

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Netbotz (2, Informative)

agrounds (227704) | more than 11 years ago | (#5843992)

I think Netbotz [] are the best I've seen so far. I have used them in multiple server rooms for security as well as monitoring. They have temp, humidity, a camera, and are web-enabled. Very sweet!

Check these out []

Re:Netbotz (1)

pci (13339) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844185)

Don't forget WallBotz, expecially the new 500 series. It can support over 10 cameras and remote sensors, so you can monitor the whole room with only one box. []

Re:Netbotz (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 11 years ago | (#5847011)

Mod this up further, we deployed a netbot in a lab environment and it was striaghtforward to use, and does a great job.

Host based (2, Interesting)

acaird (530225) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844031)

Some servers give you this for free. I use Suns (E450s) and they report CPU and environmental temperature. Then I use BigBrother and the temperature larrd module to graph it. BigBrother is at and the modules (temp. and larrd) at It's not fancy, but it was cheap and easy.

Good luck.


Re:Host based (3, Informative)

SpaFF (18764) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844228)

This is how we do it in my server room. All of our RAID controllers (Dell Poweredge RAID controllers - A derivitive of the Adaptec controllers) let you get two different temperature readings off of the controller. We just poll these vaules from a few of the servers and average.

Outside the box, inside the room (3, Funny)

macx666 (194150) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844152)

Why not go with what works, and may be cheaper? Go with a standard weather device like
  • Texas Weather Instruments
  • Oregon Scientific
  • Davis Vantage
  • etc.
Plugs in to a computer, logs just fine, and you can post your results to wunderground :-P

Depends on your budget (4, Informative)

John Q. Public (113556) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844177)

NetBotz [] are the best-known and most fully-featured system, but they're kind of pricey.

A cheaper alternative is APC's solution [] while providing just the environment info you want.

If you are also looking into remote power management, Server Technology's Power Tower [] product is being integrated with a new environmental device (for $100-200 or so, according to reports) which allows you to keep your interactions and monitoring all on one interface for environmental and power both.

Re:Depends on your budget (1)

Urgoll (364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844873)

We're using the APC Environment monitoring device here. Low cost, works well, has an embedded web server for ad-hoc polling and is SNMP-pollable for MRTG integration (or any other).
It also has dry contacts for things like door sensors or HVAC alerts.

Re:Depends on your budget (1)

compwizrd (166184) | more than 11 years ago | (#5847050)

One thing I'm looking for is how to have the dry contacts only report to the snmp, not email/page me about everytime one is triggered. For now, procmail looks like the best way to just silently drop the email.

APC Ups (1)

Plake (568139) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844181)

We use APC Ups's in the server rooms I maintain. They have SmartSlot slot built into all rackmount systems that can have a network managment card put into it.

They pull SNMP data from the UPS as well as tempature information from the room.

Check it out: sku=SU3000RM3U&totalwatts=50#

LightsoutNetworks (1)

psyconaut (228947) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844234)

I believe this startup will be producing just the sort of products you're looking for :-)


Buy or build your own (2, Interesting)

FattMattP (86246) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844255)

If you want to buy a temp sensor which is recommended by the Nagios [] people: []

If you want to roll your own: []

I bought the kit for the one on the second link and it works great.

Set up your own... (2, Informative)

Jess (11386) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844297)

I currently use digitemp [] to monitor the temperature in my computer room using Dallas Semiconductor [] DS18S20 [] temperature sensors. I had thought that they also had iButtons that also monitored humidity, but I don't see them now.

Re:Set up your own... (2, Informative)

superid (46543) | more than 11 years ago | (#5846095)

I use digitemp too to monitor the temperature [] of my basement....errrr...server room. It works very well and yes, Dalsemi does have one wire humidity sensors []

Re:Set up your own... (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 11 years ago | (#5847057)

Seems like this is a Tivo vs. MythTV type discussion. If you really want to build your own, more power to you, but the netbotz boxes rock and you don't have to reinvent any wheels.

A PLC? (1)

skwm (581559) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844313)

At my work, we built a humidity & temperature monitoring system using Modicon PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) which was used in Steinway Piano's manufacturing center. It monitored the temp/humidty of several rooms, and had some alarming & logging facilities.
You could do this with a Momentum PLC (one of the low-end of Modicons product lines) and a humidity sensor or two. For the PLC, you would need an I/O base and either a CPU module (which plugs into the I/O base)if you want to perform logic in the PLC (i.e., if signal #1 is greater than Value #1 for a time longer than Time#1, turn on Output#1, or something like that), or an Ethernet adapter, which will let you grab the data remotely with a client program.
See: [] []

Re:A PLC? (1)

ran-o-matic (667054) | more than 11 years ago | (#5845287)

These would be good if the poster were trying to control the environment, but he is only trying to monitor. There are many instruments with serial ports that do exactly what he wants.

Hmm.. (1)

mattster999 (591497) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844359)

You're sitting in the room. I think the monitoring part is handled. You can use your trusty skin for that. If you feel hot, chances are your systems do too. You even have a redundant monitoring system if you have co-workers in the room. :)

MRTG is great for tracking. Almost any decent piece of network-connected hardware will have a temperature sensor in it that can be polled via SNMP (which MRTG uses by default). It's just a little more complicated than the default setup. Be careful though, I've been monitoring four Extreme switches internal temperature this way, and the accuracy of 24-port ones varies widely while the 48-port ones are dead on. --Matt

Re:Hmm.. (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 11 years ago | (#5847162)

Speaking of extreme switches, we've got a 48 porter (we have probably 300 of these things) that, about once a month, reports it's at 150 degrees celsius.

But for the most part, they are reliable....

You can buy an analog sensor for like $200 (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844375)

It's generally a temperature/humidity sensor with pens that record data to a card.

They're cheap, effective and don't break.

Re:You can buy an analog sensor for like $200 (1)

qqtortqq (521284) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844528)

Save money, stick a thermistor [] in your joystick port, one end in pin 1, the other in pin 3. ~10 lines of perl to monitor temp.

We use (1)

bofkentucky (555107) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844621)

IMS-4000's [] for all of our environmental alarms and much of our system heartbeat monitoring. We still have to use IPsentry for specialized probes (finger and https mostly) but it is a very cool system. If you use it, remember to record useful error messages, unless you know what IP goes with what device for everything on your network that the device does by default.

FreezeAlarm? (1)

Gudlyf (544445) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844626)

The one we use doesn't report info. to a computer, but there may be other models available here [] that do. The one we use cost about $200US and calls up to three phone numbers with an automated message, letting you know that a low/high temp. has been reached, that the power went out, or that the battery backup is low.

Telaid IP Tattletale (2, Interesting)

Finni (23475) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844668)

<commercial = on>

I'll have to speak up for our own product here. The IP Tattletale family [] is a sysadmin-friendly set of devices for exactly this, and more. The original Tattletale, still sold, is a POTS-line based product with a Central Station contract. This one will fit your needs much better.

It can spit out everything via SNMP; with an add-on license you can even use the device itself to aggregate other SNMP-based devices. For large-scale environments, you can roll your own MRTG or RRDtool configs, or you can buy the IP Tattletale Central, which is a 1U linux box that hold historical data and can push out threshold settings and configs to many Tattletale units.


Yeah, Right. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5844727)

we are in the process of starting to Do Things Right(tm)

Yeah, right. That's why you decided to Ask Slashdot for some bastardized, hacked up, freebie solution. Give me a break.

If you want to handle environmental monitoring and control, and "do it right", then you should be talking to these guys [] about stuff like this [] and this [] and this [] .

Re:Yeah, Right. (0)

WizardX (63639) | more than 11 years ago | (#5848884)

Hey, ASSHOLE I asked here because there are actually people who will respond with good ideas and or solution.

As for Johnson Controls, do you have the money needed? No I did not think so. I used to WORK for them. I know what the whole M5 Metasys system (Rev 12) can do. My office was in the same complex as the Control Group Headquartser is. I know what they have and what they are working on. If I wanted to spend $10,000 for a NCU, two OWSs and the various controls to just monitor my temp and humidity I would not have posted to slashdot. Hell, in order to get the data out of the Metasys system I would have to write a MetaLink application to so. Yes I could use the M-Web, but I want it all centralized in MRTG.

If we go with a performance contract with JCI, I will be more than happy to use it. But if that is the case, then there will be a lot more than two points that will be monitored and a custom application, will be more justified. It is one of the best facility management products out there.

The only other company that even comes close is Tridium, but they do not offer the whole package like Johnson Controls does. Honeywell, Seimens, et al are crap compared to Johnson.

p.s. I would tell you to go fuck yourself, but I doubt you need help in that area.

Re:Yeah, Right. (1)

WizardX (63639) | more than 11 years ago | (#5848898)

No, I can't spell.

How about Pinnacle? (1)

photon317 (208409) | more than 11 years ago | (#5844791)

The ones linked in the main article text output actual analog or digital signals - you would still need something to bring this down to serial format to feed it into a machine (like a little basic stamp circuit or something)

You might want to look at Pinnacle Datalogger [] , which has an ethernet jack and an IP stack, and a web interface, etc... It does temp and humidity.

Popcorn! (1)

pmz (462998) | more than 11 years ago | (#5845006)

I recommend putting trays of popcorn on top of each rack-mount server. You can spot which ones are too hot almost immediately and get some needed brain food during the subsequent troubleshooting. The unbeatable feature of this monitoring method is the use of high-reliability redundant data paths. Visual, aural, and olfactory transmission methods are all employed to their fullest advantage.

Find a college EE intern ... (1)

Abm0raz (668337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5845191)

Seriously, get an EE intern. I had to build simple systems like this in college using a National Instruments interface board and some basic thermostats, humidistats, and even digital photo-eyes. You can write a simple LabView program to read in the data and output it to a database. Total cost would be ~$500 in hardware (assuming you have a server somewhere that has a spare parallel/com port in the room). You can place the devices anywhere in the room and run the wires back to the interface board. You can even place multiple devices of each in various places around the room for 3D modelling of the temp/humidity.

Don't believe managment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5845516)

At my new job we are in the process of starting to Do Things Right(tm).

no your not,
You just think you are.
I went through this several times with my company.
3 times now they told me they are willing to invest in the future and make a drastic change for the better.
Every time Management Starts off really gunhoe on the idea, then inevitably the schedule shrinks, the design changes at the last second, and everything looks worse than it did when we started.

any way the point of the my post is
Don't trust anyone in as suit!
Management may say you have my full suport right now but 2 seconds later they are going to change there mind and you will be left mop up there shit.

so yah, just so I can turn this into a bitter /.ish post

FUCK Managment.

Omega Engineering (2, Interesting)

Xenu (21845) | more than 11 years ago | (#5846482)

Check this page [] for a cheap ($59), battery operated data logger that records temperature and relative humidity. Stick them whereever you want to collect information. There is a simple Windows program for downloading measurements and configuring the devices over a serial interface.

I have one at home and it works great.

Web reporting termometer (1)

asmithmd1 (239950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5847098)

I will make you one cheap(about $100) And as a side benefit you can control an Etch-A-Sketch [] with it. But seriously the Rabbit semiconductor core modules [] are very cool. For $40 you get an ethernet port with a free (beer not speech) TCP/IP stack, 4 serial ports and 8 general purpose I/O's

WeatherDuck - $179 (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 11 years ago | (#5847455)

Just saw this advertised in a magazine at lunch:

Weather Duck [] .

It needs a PC to run its software but seems to fit your bill, especially SNMP for MRTG. I would imagine any old junky PC would be just fine.

iButtons (1)

Titus (61089) | more than 11 years ago | (#5848257)

Check out iButtons, at least for temperature

Fire Suppression and Liquid Sensors (1)

Col. Panic (90528) | more than 11 years ago | (#5848269)

You should also have fire suppression and liquid detection systems. The liquid detection systems are pretty cool. A sensor cable runs all around the floor and zones are mapped on the wall. If you get a leak under the floor (from the chillers, for example) you get an alarm and the panel indicates the zone where you need to start pulling tiles.

for me (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5849116)

for me I use a APC Enviornmental card which is plugged into my smart UPS 1000, hooked up to my system via NUT [] , I then use a perl script [] to extract the data and send it to mrtg. the same script connects to and grabs the local weather as well, see the sample [] . this monitors just my living room, I don't have a job at the moment so I don't have an official server room, just a living room with about 20 systems.

To do things right? (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 11 years ago | (#5851061)

Why do you have people in the same room with servers?

How are you restricting access to your computer room?

Why are you not getting in touch with professional people?

Re:To do things right? (1)

lowtekneq (469145) | more than 11 years ago | (#5852635)

space? money? The setup works well, you have your servers within arms reach, your IT people are there too. We have something like that at my school, a room thats always got the thermostat set to -500 calvin and all the servers in a row, along with two desks for the administrator and IT director. People don't comming there -- and when they forget their password (or anything of that nature) they have to, you would think that this would lead to less of these cases.
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