Data Center ArchitectureData Center Operations

Battlefield Archaeology and Data Center Remote Monitoring

A couple months ago, I had the great pleasure and honor of participating in a National Park Service archaeology project at Gettysburg National Military Park. As an experienced and trained metal detectorist, I was tasked (along with other detectorists) with doing a metallic survey of a small part of the battlefield where restoration work was planned. This was unprecedented in the history of the park.  Gettysburg is sacred ground. There were over 52,000 (!!!) casualties in just three days of fighting in July of 1863 during the American Civil War. So, metal detecting is (normally) strictly forbidden.  And in the past metal detecting has had shovel in dirta very negative connotation among traditional archaeologists. They viewed metal detecting as treasure or grave robbing…weekend warriors pulling things out of the ground before they can be properly recorded and studied. But that mindset has changed. Metal detecting is increasingly seen as a legitimate and highly valuable tool in archaeology. The main reason for that is that it is much less intrusive or destructive to the site. Traditional archaeology techniques involve making random shovel holes until evidence is found, then the land is peeled back to find more evidence or to interpret what is found underneath. Metal detectors (and other remote sensing technologies), on the other hand, greatly minimize disturbance to the land. It is much more precise, efficient, and much less error prone. You only dig when and where you know you have an object worth looking at. This remote sensing technology not only protects the landscape, but also saves time, money, and manpower. As objects are recovered and their data analyzed, patterns emerge that allow archaeologists to draw conclusions about what happened at a given site. The process can be quite magical.

I view data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software tools and digital remote monitoring services in exactly the same light. Despite the existence of effective monitoring tools for years now, there are still many data centers who rely on manual human monitoring and/or minimalist home grown tools to keep track of their complicated, highly interconnected and critical systems. Manually sending people out to keep track of and monitor the hundreds or thousands of objects in a changing data center using Excel and Visio tools is very labor intensive, inefficient, and is more prone to error. If properly configured and managed, DCIM software tools simplify, facilitate, and provide a clear view of what would otherwise be a very complex and diverse ecosystem of disparate facilities and IT systems. All of the data collection, monitoring, and even some of the analysis is done automatically by the system for you.  Time and effort is saved. Human error is reduced. Alarms, warnings, and other critical conditions are managed and presented by the system itself (after initial user setup, of course).

Data center infrastructure management is now in the midst of a major evolution with the advent of cloud-based DCIM tools and digital remote monitoring services. Operational efficiency (time, effort, and money) can be improved even further by having the facility remotely monitored 7×24 by infrastructure experts. Device data can be analyzed in real-time to provide proactive insight as to what’s going on in the facility regarding infrastructure capacities, redundancies, security, and much more.  Field service can be proactively dispatched by the service or you can be instantly connected to trained support people to help resolve any issue. These digital remote monitoring services allow you to remotely sense and monitor everything from your phone no matter where you are. Imagine the freedom and operational efficiency savings gained from being able to be anywhere, anytime and know that your critical facility is being carefully monitored and secured. There’s really no good way to do all of this yourself.  There’s just too much to keep track of and its constantly changing. Digital remote monitoring tools give you the visibility and expert resources needed to stay ahead of it all.

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