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Operating a data center poses a set of unique challenges. One of the most crucial challenges of these “data warehouses” is the massive energy demand to power servers and other equipment, and the energy needed to cool the environment. Improper data center cooling can result in catastrophic failures and losses of sometimes millions of dollars per minute. As data centers are expected to operate 24/7 with zero downtime, IT and Facilities managers need tools to help meet these seemingly-impossible expectations in a manner that is cost effective.
In comes data center infrastructure management software, or DCIM.
Simply put, DCIM is software designed to collect and converge essential data gathered from IT and the facility, consolidating them into one system. It provides a unified, holistic view of overall operation and helps optimize energy usage, dictates proper equipment deployment, and ensures that the infrastructure is operating without issues.
DCIM should not be confused with the IT Asset Management system (ITAM), which supports lifecycle management of IT hardware. While ITAM is very important, it is complementary to and different than DCIM.
The need for data center space grows exponentially. Cisco’s Global Cloud Index predicts that data center traffic will grow fourfold, totaling 6.6 zettabytes annually by 2016. The EPA reports that data centers consume 20 times more energy per square foot than a typical office building. With these statistics in mind, it’s little surprise that making the most of the space, power, and cooling potential in a data center has become such a large concern.
Those considering investing in a DCIM solution should look for advanced features that make monitoring the environment easier and more flexible. Most importantly, these features should provide real-time monitoring and visibility of all data center systems and devices, from the power feeds to the servers, not forgetting cooling systems.
The ideal DCIM should offer:
If you’re challenged with managing your data center with just your building management system, consider deploying a DCIM solution for drastic energy savings and a real-time global view of all your data centers. Choose a DCIM solution that will be easily interoperable with your current systems to keep your costs down and your reliability up.
Sev Onyshkevych is chief marketing officer for FieldView Solutions.
For building owners and facilities management professionals, fire alarm systems can be both a burden and a necessity.
Although fire alarm systems are mainly thought of by building owners as a system that is required to gain occupancy, a poorly designed fire alarm system can become such a burden to the owner that the main intent to protect people and property can get overlooked or lost.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Annual Fire Experience Survey, in 2011 fire departments responded to 2,383,000 false alarms – an increase of 9% from the year before. This means that one out of twelve calls responded to by fire departments were false alarms.
Choosing and properly designing a fire alarm system is crucial for both the safety of your occupants and your bottom line. Let the following factors guide your next new construction or facilities upgrade project.
Even if the fire prevention codes don’t require a detection system, it may be in your best interest to install one of the many technologies that can detect a fire early and enable a quick response.
Modern fire alarm systems are considered “Intelligent” systems. A properly designed fire alarm system should cut down on false alarms, thereby ensuring when a fire alarm sounds, occupants leave the building. The array of early detection devices on the market today can identify smoke and fire signatures so culprits such as dirt or steam do not create a false alarm. In addition, an intelligent system’s maintenance alerts saves maintenance costs by pinpointing which smoke detectors may have become dirty and are in need of cleaning; thereby, reducing the need to remove and clean all smoke detectors in an attempt to find a few contaminated and dirty ones.
This early detection technology can also provide the earliest possible detection of a fire and its source, which is especially helpful in terms of notifying fire departments earlier of the fire, which in effect can help save the building from total fire destruction and loss.
Once an actual event triggers an alarm on the fire alarm control panel, it will send notification to the fire department and occupants in the building. The audible notification of a fire alarm system should be designed to ensure all occupants in all areas of the building – whether hard of hearing or seeing – receive the proper notification (both audible and visual) to leave the building.
Fire alarm systems become a burden and a safety issue when false alarms continue to occur. These continued false alarms result in occupants becoming numb to the alarm and therefore disregarding it, which both puts them in harm’s way and causes chaos for firefighters who arrive on the scene to fight the fire. The longer the occupants stay in place believing it is another false alarm, the higher the risk is that they will be injured in the fire. A fire doubles in size every thirty seconds to one minute. Therefore those extra seconds of reaction-time are imperative to the safety of the occupants in the building.
False alarms can not only be hazardous to occupants in the occurrence of an actual fire, they are also very costly to the building owners. Fire departments are holding building owners accountable for the proper functionality of the fire alarm system by charging false alarm fees. These fees, although taxing for the owner, help ensure that fire alarm systems are no longer only installed to gain occupancy and instead the actual design of the system is looked at more for the safety and long-term operation to minimize false alarms. In today’s tighter budgets, building owners are more likely to take special precautions when the fire alarm system is being designed so they are not hit with these alarm expenses later on.
To summarize, a fire alarm system is more than a necessity and never a burden if the right detection devices are selected and installed. Along with the proper notification, a fire alarm system can be your best tool for prevention, detection, safe evacuation, and mitigating the loss of life and property while cutting down on false alarms.
Chris Wilhelm is director of construction at Tech Electronics.
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