All companies and organizations should adapt the same approach to ensure their critical infrastructure is monitored 24/7. The temporary loss of a data center, server room, etc. can be very costly. In the 2001 Cost of Downtime survey, participating companies reported as follows: 46 percent said each hour of downtime would cost up to $50,000; 28 percent said each hour would cost between $51,000 and $250,000; 18 percent said each hour would cost between $251,000 and $1 million; and 8 percent said it would cost their company more than $1 million per hour.
While many of us may think a disaster equates to a hurricane or major flooding, a disaster can be as simple as the loss of air conditioning in a server room, or a water pipe bursting in the middle of the night when no one is working.
There are numerous remote monitoring devices in the marketplace. However, not all are created equal, and if they lack NEBS Level 3 certification you will most likely be settling on using a product that is not built with industrial grade components. NEBS specifications, developed by Bellcore for the telecommunications industry, were devised as ultra-high reliability standards.
The Level 3 certification is the highest possible level of equipment sturdiness and disaster-tolerance. The standards require a variety of tests designed to simulate the extreme conditions resulting from both man-made of natural disasters.
In addition to NEBS Level 3 certification, remote monitoring devices should have the following features at a minimum: Onboard temperature/humidity sensors, discrete inputs (equipment and intrusion monitoring), analog inputs (battery monitoring), control outputs, duel redundant power inputs, terminal server, interface for IP video, e-mail (event notification) and Web browser access for remote device configuration and viewing of device status.
Other key features should include:
- User-configured derived alarms – beneficial feature when a combination of problems happening at once is more critical than any one problem happening by itself. For example, while a generator failure or a low battery backup may not be a critical alarm by itself, it does become critical if both happen simultaneously.
- User-configured control responses – this feature could be used for something such as starting a site generator if there is a low battery alarm.
A highly reliable remote monitoring device will minimize the risk of a disaster having a negative impact on a company’s critical infrastructure. Referring back to the 2001 Cost of Downtime survey, when asked at what point a company’s survival was at risk, 40 percent of respondents said 72 hours, 21 percent said 48 hours, 15 percent said 24 hours, 8 percent said eight hours, 9 percent said four hours, 3 percent said one hour, and 4 percent said within the hour.
A final note on the value of NEBS Level 3 certification: According to reports, the central office phone switches in the basement of the World Trade Center continued to operate even after the building collapsed. AT&T technicians discovered that the local telephone switches in the basement of one of the towers was still working. Your remote monitoring devices are the last devices you would want to fail. They are your first line of defense in disaster prevention.
About The Author: Alan G. Hutcheson is president and chief executive officer for Dantel, Inc.
"Appeared in DRJ's Spring 2008 Issue"