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Raritan expert on adding intelligence and security to physical infrastructure

Raritan expert on adding intelligence and security to physical infrastructure

Data CentresPower & CoolingThought LeadershipTop Stories

Organisations across all industries are currently facing up to the decision of either modernising existing infrastructure with an overlay of new IoT or ripping and replace in its entirety. Managers are looking for innovative solutions to extend the life of existing infrastructure while also paving the way for future platforms and integrations. It’s a challenge – both technically and financially – for those finely balancing the needs of teams responsible for building, owning and operating infrastructure. Marc Cram, Director of New Market Development for Legrand DPC (Data, Power and Control Division) outlines why, in these environments, flexible solutions which can remotely monitor and manage remote, unstaffed facilities is needed.

The world appears to be on a long-term path toward mass urbanisation. Most outlooks, including that of the United Nations, predict that by 2030 more than 50% of the world’s population will live in cities.

With this in mind, many cities have declared that they will become ‘Smart Cities’, adopting tools that seek to improve citizens’ quality of life through increased digitalisation of services and open access to data.

Such examples of Smart City initiatives include the deployment of an increased number of security cameras to show wildlife in its native habitat, watch pedestrians, evaluate vehicular traffic flow and supervise mass transit.

Streets have embedded sensors collecting data on vehicular speeds and open parking spaces. Even the city-developed mobile apps can detect or report everything from potholes on the roads to trash on the sidewalk. Electric vehicle chargers are being installed in parking spaces throughout these cities and are available by reservation through smartphone applications.

Such initiatives will ultimately enable greener and safer environments for all citizens.

But these applications will require the support of compute power coming from data centres or distributed Edge Computing locations.

The transitions in approach to IT architecture and the ongoing proliferation of new computing locations can cause difficulties for those responsible for the IT infrastructure itself, namely the facilities personnel where the equipment is housed and the security team responsible for the equipment’s physical security in those facilities. In some cases, these same people are also responsible for things outside of the typical IT sphere, like distributed antenna systems, HVAC systems, lighting, conference rooms and telecom infrastructure.

Below, we will explore three scenarios requiring remote monitoring and find out howSmart Rack Controller is one solution coming to the aid of IT, facilities and security-focused personnel.

Scenario 1: Adding modern intelligence to legacy infrastructure

In this scenario, legacy infrastructure is IT racks built out years ago and deployed inside of an environment that was initially devoted to a single department or user community. For instance, a city traffic control centre, a university research lab, a gas station chain, fast food restaurants, or department stores. These spaces housing the IT gear or racks need to be repurposed into a multi-department, multi-tenant, or multi-user data centre that is frequently accessed by the respective users.

As the environment is repurposed, new challenges arise, such as how to improve access control, implement more granular environmental controls and ensure uptime for everyone making use of the facility.

How do you transition to an intelligent infrastructure? Listed here is some of the technology you may need:

  • Cage level and individual rack access control via secure door locks
  • Support of in rack temperature, humidity, smoke detection, door open/close card reader locks
  • Support for sensors outside the rack – temperature, humidity, floor leak detection, differential air pressure across perforated floor tiles and AC air filters
  • Support for Logitech USB cameras to enable manual identity verification at the cage and rack levels
  • API and SNMP support for the collection and management of sensor data and alarms
  • Support for a wide variety of DCIM and BMS tools

Scenario 2: Managing complex urban installations

Remote infrastructure cabinets that support cities are now being used to support multipurpose applications within those cities. They house a diverse set of systems with varying tolerances for environmental specs, power requirements and access/control needs.

The enclosure may service a wide array of applications, including:

  • Traffic light and crosswalk controls
  • City traffic cam connections
  • Parking system sensor interfaces
  • EV charging reservation system with POS
  • Public kiosk data delivery gateway
  • Public Wi-Fi access point
  • Gunshot detection system gateway
  • Shared equipment for 5G carriers
  • Air quality monitoring system gateway
  • Copper or fibre patch panels

Listed are some of the suggested tools for successful management and maintenance of these city installations:

  • Dry contact closure sensing on the outer door position
  • USB camera to manually ID personnel accessing enclosure matches access card
  • Temperature and humidity sensors to ensure the cabinet and equipment therein is operating within parameters
  • Remote power measurement and management
  • Flexible power sourcing – AC or DC power
  • API and SNMP support for the collection and management of sensor data and alarms
  • Floor moisture sensor for shelter leaks, flooding, or AC condensation

Scenario 3: Ensuring physical security and environmental health for distant locations

Property managers and technicians who manage any remote location need to be able to check on the condition of assets at locations across the country and the globe in real-time. The consistent monitoring for mother nature environmental factors and human interference at remote locations is key to uptime in these environments.

Needs for environmental monitoring:

  • Dry contact closure sensing on the outer door position
  • USB camera to manually ID personnel accessing enclosure matches access card
  • Temperature and humidity sensors to ensure the cabinet and equipment therein is operating within parameters
  • Floor moisture sensor for shelter leaks, flooding, or AC condensation
  • Ties to UPS and generator output for uptime status
  • Remote power measurement and management
  • Flexible power sourcing – AC or DC power
  • Data accessible through a web interface and API for the presentation of multiple locations on a single pane of glass.

Solving the problems: Genesis of the Smart Rack Controller

First conceived as a complement to the PX line of intelligent rack power distribution units (PDUs) from Raritan, the Smart Rack Controller (SRC) leverages the knowledge and design expertise that come from working for more than 20 years in the data centre market.

The idea for the SRC is to provide intelligence in the IT cabinet or remote enclosure for those installations where remotely managed PDUs were not implemented (legacy installations) or not desirable. Raritan’s SRC is an intelligent sensor management solution that serves as a central connection point for environmental monitoring, asset location, physical access and other monitoring and security sensors.

It addresses the gaps in instrumenting a facility or data centre by providing an all-in-one stand-alone intelligent device that collects and delivers real-time actionable data about your facility without needing to change the configuration of existing power distribution or IT infrastructure.

The SRC family of products delivers a myriad of additional data points for the data centre operator beyond the standard temperature and humidity at the rack level.

Sensors are available to measure differential air pressure, floor moisture (leak sensor), vibration, proximity (through PIR), the status of dry contact closures and perform asset tracking. In addition, the SRC supports the interface of smoke detectors via dry contact closure interface, Logitech USB cameras and remote IT door lock card readers for access control.

Raritan’s SRC family consists of four models, from the entry level SRC-0100 up to the feature-rich SRC-0800, a solution capable of integrating all the critical data points for ensuring the physical security and efficient environmental operation of a containerised data centre.

Conclusion

Needs change over time. Whether you add a new layer of intelligence to existing infrastructure or elect to rip and replace with something completely new, it makes sense to implement more data collection and intelligence to facilitate remote operation and troubleshooting going forward.

This applies to data centres, Edge Computing sites, 5G wireless and remotely operated radio, TV and telecommunications sites. Adding sensors and the Smart Rack Controller to your build-out plans is one essential means of implementing the monitoring and access controls you need to ensure the physical security and uptime of your most demanding customers and your critical infrastructure.

Biography

Marc Cram is Director of New Market Development for Legrand DPC (Data, Power and Control Division), which includes the Raritan and Server Technology brands. A technology evangelist, he is driven by a passion to deliver a positive power experience for the data centre owner/operator. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rice University and has more than 30 years of experience in the field of electronics.

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