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Server Room Temp Monitoring and Notifications? 93

Posted by Cliff
from the don't-let-it-get-too-hot-in-thar dept.
Supp0rtLinux asks: "Like many businesses, my server room is a standalone environment from the rest of my building. It has its own UPS, its own survelliance system, and its own AC system powered by its own generator. These are separate from the global building UPS, survelliance, AC, and generator systems and are designed to operate even when the rest of the building is down. However, in my current server room and in others I work with, I find that the AC systems generally lack a network-based notification system. As such, while my server room AC failed at 2am last night and temperature climbed to over 98 degrees, no one was aware until after 8am this morning when the audible alarms were heard. How do other Slashdot readers handle this?"
"I've thought about using some server motherboard with thermal monitoring, but they typically: a) only allow for shutdown at a certain temp, not for warning/email; and b) a well cooled server may not necessarily become excessively hot even if the room heats up. I know some newer AC systems *do* support SMTP notifications, but older ones either do not or are cost-prohibitive add-ons. The very popular Lieberts that are found in the ceilings of many server rooms are a good example of this. Do you know of devices that are network/SMTP capable that can be set with thresholds and alarms and generate emails, pages, or SMS messages when said alarms go off?"
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Server Room Temp Monitoring and Notifications?

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  • Here you go (Score:5, Informative)

    by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Thursday June 30, 2005 @03:33PM (#12952781)
    Hot Little Therm [spiderplant.com] but see the warning about no longer selling them ... great thermo probes, wish they were still selling them. I am glad I have a few extra.

    Weather Duck and Power Egg [itwatchdogs.com]

    These ought to do the trick just fine. A bit of configuring or shell scripting, send email to a cell phone or pager or whatever, you should be happy as a clam at high tide.

    There are probably others as well. There may even be source code on sourceforge. Hot Little Therm has software. Weather Duck may also.
    • I second the IT Watchdogs [itwatchdogs.com] products. We have a WeatherGoose hooked up to Cacti [cacti.net]. Works like a charm.
    • I second the Weather Duck, it's a wonderful solution - especially for smaller datacenters.

      One note of caution on the Power Egg - they aren't UL listed, and the construction of them seems.. well, not that great. We ordered a couple with L5 30amp ends and after a few weeks decided we didn't want to trust our power to something that hasn't been certified - not to mention the lawyers told us that if there was a fire due to them that it wouldn't be covered. So buyer beware on that!

      But our Weather Goose has yet
    • We've written some self-rolled C code and Perl scripts to pull data from the Weatherduck, stuff it into a Postgres database, and trigger an alarm if the temperature or humidity get outside a certain range. Here's a link to our CVSWeb [earlham.edu].

      The basic procedure is that you pipe output from monitor into db_interface, and then run alert as a separate process. You can use the CGI script to generate GNUPlot [gnuplot.info] graphs from a web form, or you can invoke it directly with graph.


  • I found a possible low-cost solution to your problem here [hddtemp.com]. It's not exactly what you're looking for, but it could be tailored to help out in your situation, particularly if you choose to monitor a HDD with low utilization, and set the warning temp at just a few degrees above the highest temp it normally hits when the AC is operational.

    Hope this helps....I'm thinking I might hit up my supervisor for this software as well...there's certainly no harm in being careful.
    • by turtled (845180) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @03:49PM (#12952939)
      Man, I don't even go home, I am my own monitor! If I get hot, something's wrong... wait, you mean, you guys actually get to go home?
    • This solution just uses SMART, which you should be watching anyway. I'm not sure if their product is any good, but you should evaluate it. If it isn't a simple ruby/python script can get that info (We have written such things here). You need to be monitoring each drive anyway, since it is nice to replace them before they fail.

  • 1) Get a digital multimeter with RS232 and a temperature probe.
    2) Connect it to a small, well-cooled, Linux box (Mini/ITX would be good)
    3) Write a quick perl script to poll the DMM every 10 seconds (or something).
    4) If current_temp > max_temp { send_mail(); }

    It's cheap, AND you get to play with Mini ITX linux boxes at work :)
    • Actually, I think the thermal cubes talked about below are a much better solution. And less expensive.

      The multimeter solution is pretty geeky though. (And you can... uh... measure the AC line voltage and have the server notify you when the power goes out :P)
    • An even easier way would be to mount an extra heat sensor to an existing servers motherboard and and put it in free air.
      You could use the lmsensors package to notify you if the heat goes to high.
      seems like as good a solution as any.
      Other options would be a Dallas one-wire sensor network interfaced to a Linux or windows box. You could have multi able temperature as well as other sensors interfaced to your network that way. Like, humidity or doors. You could also use the digital out to trigger a loud alarm.
      He
  • Nagios + Websensor (Score:5, Informative)

    by asc4 (413110) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @03:37PM (#12952827) Homepage
    • Interestingly, I believe these are from a college capstone course design, "product-ized" by the professor... of course, this is just what I hear around the office, and they're a competitor... could just be gossip, you should evaluate their quality and tech support yourself.
    • I want to second this. We do this, and we also pay the alarm people to monitor the temp and humidity as a backup (about are only problem is that, they didn't call use during business hours because they assumed we knew the room was 15F over the agreed upon high temp). Yes, it's a server room, no one works in there, no one goes in there unless there's a problem or to rotate tapes. Ding bats...

      Nagios is wonderful. Everytime we have a new type of error, we write a little script to monitor how fast we are

    • by TTK Ciar (698795)

      I second this, too. We use Nagios at The Internet Archive, and a trivial Nagios plugin wrapped around /usr/sbin/hddtemp [freshmeat.net] which can be used to monitor the temperature of your servers' hard drives.

      Nagios can be made to do any of a variety of things when a plugin returns a "CRITICAL" status, like send emails, call beepers/cellphones, etc.

      -- TTK

      • I remember when we first implemented Nagios. My email system treated it as spam, I got about 16 emails an hour. Boy, was that fun! (university intern at the time, go easy on me)
  • Google it. They make a device that will monitor temperature, power, humidity, flooding, etc, and call up to 4 different phone numbers in a loop until someone acknowledges the alert.
  • by saintp (595331) <stpierreNO@SPAMnebrwesleyan.edu> on Thursday June 30, 2005 @03:41PM (#12952871) Homepage
    Build yourself a couple of Thermal Cubes [washington.edu] ($3.50 - $5.00 each), and connect them to a box running Nagios [nagios.org] (which you should be running anyway). Hey presto, temperature monitoring. And you get to play with soldering irons at work, which can be great fun if you act secretive and mutter about overclocking.
    • If you don't feel like a do-it-yourselfer, you can buy 1-wire temp sensor boxes from http://ibuttonlink.com./ [ibuttonlink.com.] We did this recently and have been running digitemp from a cron job to log temp and humidity. I'll have to take a look at the nagios plugins to see if one works with digitemp. Otherwise, we were planning on using munin to do some nice rrdtool graphing.
    • Where did you get the DS9097U-09 adapters for $5 each? Looks like they are about $12 qty 1000, and $28 qty 1-25 w/ a 8 week wait, or $34-$52 via re-sellers qty 1-10. It sounds like a great project, but if I can get the adapters for $5-$10 vs $30, I'll hop on it vs waiting. :)

      Thanks
  • I did this in our server room after the A/C's kept "randomly" shutting off. We use nagios [nagios.org] and the Esensor [eesensors.com]. It's kinda pricey but it's way worth it. There are scripts that will make it integrate directly with Nagios so there's a TON of ways it can alert you via email/SMS/etc...

    --Ajay
  • by Piquan (49943)
    Cron job. mbmon [kyushu-u.ac.jp]. 5 lines of Perl.
  • by wwest4 (183559) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @03:41PM (#12952875)
    I bought a black box that detects power, humidity, and temperature changes and calls me. It's programmable by DTMF, it's cheap, and you can tweak the threshold parameters to your heart's content. The ones I use were purchased from Microtechnologies, Inc. [temperatureguard.com] in CT. It woke me up after a bunch of power outages last night. Some might prefer something more exotic or flexible, but this is quick, dirty, and it works (4+ years).

  • NetBotz (Score:3, Informative)

    by hab136 (30884) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @03:43PM (#12952883) Journal
    http://www.netbotz.com/ [slashdot.org].
    • Absolutely!! I used NetBotz to great success in my former server rooms for those very purposes.

      After having one too many holidays runied by failed air conditioners I bought two of them, one for each server room. They come with temp and airflow sensors, microphones, cameras, all sorts of great stuff. You configure it with a web interface to alert you on various threshholds, from temp to airflow to motion on the camera to loud noises, and it can page you, email you, etc.

      I just made sure that it was position
    • HAHA...I work weekend nights...I am sitting here looking at a netbotz console right now! They are pretty versatile. I like it a whole lot better than relying in Leiberts.
  • Our Server room has a small box on the wall that mainly monitors our UPS. It hooks up with alarm wire contacts (normally closed/normally open) And also has a temprature sensor. When an alarm triggers it calls pre-programmed phone numbers in sequence, and tells you which alarms are going off (and the room temprature). It also has a noise level monitoring system too, if the noise level gets too high, it will call you and let you listen to the room via it's built in microphone. All you need is a power ou
  • Sensaphone (Score:3, Informative)

    by MikeDawg (721537) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @03:48PM (#12952923) Homepage Journal
    We use a Sensaphone 1104 (my boss is a real geek). It will dial phone numbers, send pages if certain conditions are met regarding the server room. Sensaphone [sensaphone.com] offers many more products that do similiar tasks.
    • I've got one of those too.

      Ours monitors temperature and water, although sadly the only time the server room flooded (due to a leaky air-conditioning unit) the water sensor wasn't located near the wet areas.

      The device plugs into the mains and can be programmed to telephone a list of numbers on alert conditions.

      The unit also has backup batteries which will allow it to make a call in case of power outage - although in our case with a digitial phone system I suspect that wouldn't work ..

      Simple to use, and r

    • Yep, when I was a consultant we used these at most of our clients. They would call a list of numbers which was great for rotating duty and they would tell you exactly which monitored condition had tripped the alarm.
  • Alarm Companies (Score:4, Informative)

    by Some guy named Chris (9720) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @03:48PM (#12952925) Journal
    Alarm companies will sell you a monitored service to do just what you want.

    That's what we use.
  • We bought a WeatherGoose for one of our server rooms. They are fairly cheap ($399 for the unit) and have many accessories that can be purchased as well as leads for "homebrew"/specialty sensors.

    The WeatherGoose has a builtin web server that has (among other things) an xml feed...this makes writing scripts to interpret the data a breeze...not to mention it has a builtin "pager" alarm that will email and address whenever an alarm is tripped (high temp for instance)...

    IT WatchDogs [itwatchdogs.com]
  • Have whomever is in charge of building maintenance install a temperature sensor and remote monitor connection to the building alarm system in your computer room. I did that at the last four facilities I managed. It is a hassle free solution, the monitoring company can be given a list of people to contact -- with a specific order for contacting them.

    That way, you can go on vacation! Too many homebrew solutions end up being dependent on the sysadm being available. Vacations are nice! Try to remove anythin
    • Vacations are nice! Try to remove anything that prevent you from taking one.

      That also removes anything preventing them from giving you a loooooong vacation too. Remember: If your job is so automated you can do it from the deli, your job is also so automated they can do it from Delhi.

      And a note about contact lists: If you have more than two people getting the notifications, you should have a 'war room' voice bridge set up, so all the involved people can call in and figure out which one's going to get out

      • "That also removes anything preventing them from giving you a loooooong vacation too. Remember: If your job is so automated you can do it from the deli, your job is also so automated they can do it from Delhi."

        That is the least of my worries. Too much of sysadm work is hands-on and cannot be done remotely. I run two sites; one in California and one in Pennsylvania. I have done as much as I can to allow remote administration of the other site, given financial and time constrants. However, I still need

  • Check http://www.sensatronics.com/ [sensatronics.com] They sell very neat network-attached environmental sensors which are very easy to work with.

    (Friend works for them)
  • Digitemp rocks (Score:2, Informative)

    by the_maddman (801403)
    I use a combo of digitemp, Dallas One-Wire temp probes, RRD, and some Python to glue it together.
    http://www.digitemp.com/ [digitemp.com] for the software,
    http://www.ibuttonlink.com/ [ibuttonlink.com] to get the hardware.

    Serial interface, and you can run sensors hundreds of feet away over cat5. Just remember to test the alerts if you roll your own system.

    If you want to know more, let me know I'll see what I can do.

  • Larger routers have thermal sensors... Long ago in a job far far away, I wrote a simple script to SNMP poll the router and then send an E-mail if the temp got too high. -Adam
  • We just use Nagios along with a temperature sensor and a custom-written Nagios plugin. It cost us about $200 in parts and about an hour's worth of labor to write the plugin.

    Of course, there is always the esensor [nagios.org], which happens to go on sale tomorrow.

  • Just hire a security guard and post him at the door. Give him orders to shoot to kill if this guy [scoot.net] tries to enter the server room.
    • HAHAHA "I'm Mister Green Christmas, I'm Mister Sun I'm Mister Heat Blister, I'm Mister Hundred and One They call me Heat Miser, What ever I touch Starts to melt in my clutch, I'm too much!" Man, I used to love watching that show every year!
  • by fiori (45848)
    Out of the box monitoring for everything including an equipment cabinet door being openned.

    http://www.netbotz.com/ [netbotz.com]
  • My company (Disclaimer: I am an engineer, not a sales guy) makes products designed jsut for this! Ethernet-based (or serial-port based) and work with MANY software options including Nagios, or we have a perl script for data collection that you could hack to send you email if you like do-it-yourself. Here's the device I recommend [sensatronics.com]. There are some homebrew-ish solutions out there, but we sell to thousands of very happy customers, and provide everything from the basics to lots of bells and whistles. SMS mes
    • And I should preview... -also supports SNMP with or without traps, another model adds humidity and leak detection, etc.
    • After a server room AC failure following routine maintenance I went and bought one of these units the next day.

      Extremely easy to set up. I just poll it via http with a script and update an rrdtool graph. I generate a pager alert if the temperature is too high.

      Next day the AC failed again (on a Friday evening no less) but the pager called me when I was just a couple miles from the office. Disaster averted.
      • I started off monitoring this device via http as well, but did from within Perl so I could set limits and do email notification. I found that using SNMP was simpler as it required a bit less guess work in locating the correct string. For a couple hundred bucks, you can't beat it for a four probe sensor with SNMP support. A real enterprise class solution IMHO.
  • At my work we have a remote with delicate equipment, including an atomic clock, which needs constant temperature monitoring. The problem is that this is all in a mobile lab (in a modified truck, basically). So, our solution is simple enough:
    - have the AC kick in automatically when it's too hot,
    - have the heater kick in when it's too cold
    - if for some reason these systems don't kick in, a temperature sensor installed and monitored by the security systems sets off an alarms.

    So, for us, the same security co
  • by mknewman (557587) * on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:18PM (#12953208)
    APC sells a monitoring board that goes in some of their UPSses and will do SNMP. Even if you don't need a UPS get one, hook it to your network, and you have your monitor cheaply. Marc
    • they also have a standalone rackmountable unit, that has two temp/humidity probes and a couple contact pairs for alarms.. put one of those on the server room door, and it'll page you everytime someone opens that door.

  • You can get a lot more than room temperature monitoring, if you want. I use a Davis Instruments [weathertools.com] weather station to monitor server room temperature as well as outside temperature, wind speed+direction, humidity, barometer, etc.

    I use the Davis Weather Monitor II station, which can be picked up [weathertools.com] for about $350. Controlling the station from *NIX couldn't be more simple. I use the Device::WxM2 [cpan.org] Perl module to pull data from my station. I wrote a small daemon that stores the data in RRDtool [ee.ethz.ch] data files, as wel
  • Why reinvent the wheel [apc.com]? --kash
  • switch them off on your way out
  • I use these products from AKCP. The Sensor Probe [akcpinc.com] line is inexpensive and does the job. Web interface. Customizable thresholds. Also can monitor things like humidity too.
  • I've used this before. jeez. learn to use google.

    http://www.sensorsoft.com/st6105c.html
  • I hacked up some Perl code a while back to use the built-in prtdiag command on Solaris for those machines that provide temperature data -take a look at gettemp [komar.org] if that is helpful to 'ya.

    One nice thing about host monitoring is that if you lose a fan or have some localized cooling issue, you will know about it this way, rather than via a whole-room temperature monitor. There are certainly scalability issues with doing per-host monitoring though.

  • This can vary depending on your disks and other hardware, but to check the temperature of a hard disk I can type "smartctl -a /dev/hda | grep Temperature". If I were to parse that, I could make a cron job to notify me when a disk gets too hot. Disk temperature is your greatest concern, right? A broken AC is not the only way to fry a disk.
  • APC (Score:3, Informative)

    by un4given (114183) <<bvoltz> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday June 30, 2005 @05:16PM (#12953810)
    APC makes an inexpensive but very effective monitoring device:

    http://www.apc.com/resource/include/techspec_index .cfm?base_sku=AP9319 [apc.com]

    I have installed these at multiple sites with great sucess. They do email or SNMP notifications and are manageable through a web interface.
  • I use an internal APC environmental monitoring card, which costs about $150. There is an external version for about $250 USD. http://www.apc.com/products/category.cfm?id=7&subi d=29 [apc.com]

    I am using the internal card in an APC MasterSwitch, which allows me to control the power, and SNMP/web monitor the temperature (and create MRTG graphs). I also have a script which watches the temp and pages me at x degrees.
  • We use a couple of simple serial thermometers http://www.google.co.uk/search?num=20&hl=en&safe=o ff&c2coff=1&biw=1152&q=rs-232+thermometer&btnG=Sea rch&meta= [google.co.uk] and a custom build app to read the serial port and feed the temp into our alerting system which handles our thresholds. This works well for us. I also recommend two aircons with one set to kick in when the temperature gets too high (i.e. when the other fails)
  • http://www.ambientweather.com/sethandensep.html [ambientweather.com]

    This plug and go package has everything you need to protect rooms and equipment from temperature problems using a network enabled Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 machine. All software runs as Windows services.

    It can alert you via email, pager and run commands when temperature goes outside your set limits.

    The graphing tool allows you to graph temperature data from a web browser.

    This package includes the ST6105C Sensorsoft Thermometer, RWME Remote Watchman Enterpris
  • by pretoris (442079)
    APC makes some environmental monitoring units. Here's a list of them from their site:

    http://apc.com/products/category.cfm?id=7&subid=29 [apc.com]

    They monitor temp and humidity among other things and include customisable relays, threasholds, remote access, and email monitoring.
  • IPSentry [ipsentry.com] is cheap and easy to set up, and it can monitor a lot more than temperature and humidity. It has a ton of ways to notify you, and you can write your own notification modules in VB if you want.
  • by Myself (57572) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @09:01PM (#12956341) Journal
    My local nature center has a very accurate environmental monitoring system. There's a rock outside a window, and a guide which reads:

    This is the weather rock.
    If you can't see the rock, it's night.
    If the rock is wet, it's raining.
    If the rock is white, there's been snow.
    If the rock is moving, there's a tornado.
    If the rock is gone, there was a tornado.

    Now, pair one of those babies with a nice Axis network camera....
  • At work we use the sh2+ from http://www.uptimedevices.com/ [uptimedevices.com]. I coded a custom plugin for BigBrother, and we now have temperature and relative humidity with paging and trending.

    The one thing I'd tell you to do is the trending. It's great to be able to look at the RRD plots and say, "I see the temperature goes up 3 degrees at night, I'll have to talk to the facilities people".
  • KMC makes a small digital control board with a built in web server and the ability to talk to an SMTP server. Their Weblite product can easily be set up to control any AC system. It's got 8 inputs so you can monitor 8 temp/humidity/airprove swithes, really anything you want and any alarm to SMS,Email,etc. Built in graphing and logging. Their product line is perfectly capable of running an entire building, very modular. Easy to program. Anybody that can hack together some Perl can program this stuff.
  • Most of the larger, APC ups's have temperature sensors that you can query with snmp. Surely this can also tie into nagios...
  • I had a live cam site, where they'd turn up the heat to crash the machines they were using, so they didn't have to work. They were Windows machines. All it took was putting a thermistor into a little housing, so it plugged into the game port. I wrote a little QuickBasic program to read the value, and report it back. It took a little math to figure out the value to temperature conversions.

    I'm sure it could be done in Linux too, but the machines I was working with were Win98 workstations. If you ca
  • Check the front page of Nagios [nagios.org] for network based environmental sensors that plug straight into your network.
  • We sell clusters, many of them I include an SP2 temperature sensing device. http://www.jacarta.co.uk/products/prod_sp.html [jacarta.co.uk] This can detect temperature (duh) and other things, like water or contact sensors. The sp2 has 2 sensors, you can get more others. The sp8 may be more your thing. The sp2 can email, snmp trap sms etc. etc. etc. on configurable limits, a warning and an alarm. You can also query it via snmp (what I do) and web pages etc. where you get a history of the temperature. Personally, I use o
  • by cr0sh (43134) on Friday July 01, 2005 @06:35PM (#12965571) Homepage
    If you have a spare serial port on a server not hooked up already to a UPS for monitoring, use it. Go down to Home Depot or Lowes and purchase a cheap Honeywell round thermostat, and hook it up to the serial port so that it connects CD & DTR or CTS & RTS together when the temperature rises to over whatever temperature you select. Mount the thermostat near wherever the main A/C thermostat is, and label it or cage it appropriately so that nobody touches it (or "fix" it so that it can't be easily mucked with). Write a cron job or equivalent to sense when this event occurs, and if so, send an email and/or begin the shutdown procedure.

    Yeah - this may be all low-tech and homebrewish, but it is essentially the exact same thing that a UPS does (albeit with temperature sensing and not voltage level). Also, you can't sue a company if it fails, but considering nothing is being currently done, and you have already had a failure - this would be the easiest and cheapest way to go (a few hours worth of time and a few dollars for parts, tops)...

  • We picked up an 8 sensor model of the AKCP sensorProbe a while back. I don't recall it being particularly expensive and it seems to work very well. It's got 8 ports on it, into which you can plug a variety of different sensors. Sensors can be things like temperature, water, AC voltage, smoke, motion, etc. The sensors all terminate in normal RJ45 connectors, so it's pretty easy to reuse existing wiring infrastructure to get your sensors wherever you need them.

    It has a web interface for configuration with

  • The APC environmental monitor AP9319 does a nice job of monitoring temp and humidity. I added the second sensor to monitor both under floor temp and room temp. In addition the unit has dry contact inputs which I connected to a waterbug leak detector. I like the apc unit since it is self contained and has a built in webserver and supports SNMP. It also will email alerts directly from the monitor. I have been sucessful in integrating the SNMP output using cacti go graph temperature trends in our data ce
  • I'll show you how to build a PC (Linux/Windows/Mac) temperature sensor for less than $20 in parts.

    -marc
  • We use Netbotz http://www.netbotz.com/ [netbotz.com] monitoring appliances for our server rooms, both the main datacenter and the alternate. We get SMTP mail, pagers, and cells...and the system has SNMP MIBs, so you can get MRTG graphs of the temperature, humidity and all enviromental variables.

    You can get models with cameras, motion detectors, etc.
  • PCMeasure http://www.pcmeasure.com/ [pcmeasure.com] sells a device that can be hooked on the network and provides data from one or more temperature or humidity probes.

    We are using one of them, together with a simple Perl script that runs on a Linux PC. The script reads out the data from the Ethernetbox, sends Email alerts, makes nice graphs with RRDTool, and even will run an automatic shutdown if the temperature gets critical.

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