Server rooms and data centers are full of expensive equipment. Keeping an eye on equipment status is critical to preventing downtime and saving a significant amount of money on repairs.
The Sensaphone Stratus EMS is a cloud-based remote monitoring system that delivers real-time status of equipment and operational conditions. When conditions fall out of the safe zone, the system immediately notifies designated personnel via phone call, text message or email. This instant notification gives you time to take corrective action and keep the server room running. The system also lets you monitor power consumption and energy usage, so you better manage cooling and other costs.
Here are answers to ten frequent questions that facility managers ask about installing the Stratus EMS in server rooms.
1. What is required to use the Stratus EMS system?
The Stratus EMS system requires an internet or WiFi connection and access to an electrical outlet. If you don’t have an internet connection at your location, you can include our LTE Cellular Modem with battery backup for the Stratus EMS. We have modems that support AT&T, Verizon or Rogers cellular service, and we offer low-cost cellular plans. Before purchasing a cellular device, you’ll want to make sure there’s sufficient signal strength at your site.
2. How do we configure the system for our server room?
Sensaphone’s well-trained support team can assess your needs and determine the most efficient use of the Stratus EMS for your application — even without a site visit. If you feel you need our staff to check out your server room, we can set up a video conference or FaceTime chat. Alternatively, we might be able to recommend a local contractor who has experience in server room installations of the Stratus EMS.
Our support team will work with you to determine the number of base units and types of sensors necessary for your operation. You will need to provide details about the scope of your server room operation. The Stratus EMS supports Modbus RTU/485 and Modbus TCP, so be sure to include a list of intelligently controlled equipment that is connected to data and integrated sensors.
This equipment includes uninterruptible power supplies (USPs), net meters, power distribution units (PDUs), HVAC systems, intermediate distribution frames (IDFs) and building automation systems. The Stratus EMS can pull real-time data from up to 64 of these electronic sources, so you can view it all in one place and receive instant alerts when values fall out of range.
3. What types of sensors will we need, and are they included with the Stratus EMS system?
If you’re using the system to pull data from existing sources, no additional sensors are required. The Stratus EMS communicates with them via its internet connection. However, the Stratus EMS has 12 additional inputs for connecting external sensors, which are sold separately. The sensors you select depend upon the conditions you want to monitor. For server rooms, we recommend monitoring conditions like ambient temperature, server rack hot and cold zones, humidity, water leaks, airflow, power fluctuations and physical security breaches.
All 12 inputs provide a selectable 24VDC source for each sensor, so you can more easily wire sensors that require an operating voltage. This also provides added cost savings by eliminating the need for an additional power supply.
4. Does the Stratus EMS only work with Sensaphone’s sensors?
No, you can connect the system with most digital, analog or Modbus sensors and transmitters regardless of the brand. However, Sensaphone sensors are designed to work specifically with our monitoring systems. If you choose universal components made by a third party, you’ll want to find out if they have been tested with the Stratus EMS. And you will need to work with another vendor to purchase the parts.
5. Do we need to hire an electrician to help with installation?
Generally not. The Stratus EMS is easy to install, and users can often set it up themselves. It has only a few simple physical installation steps:
- Mount the device in a 1U server rack
- Plug it into an electrical outlet
- Connect to the internet or cellular network
- Connect and program the equipment and/or sensors
Once you complete the physical setup steps, you can then create an account on www.sensaphone.net and begin using your device. We also recommend downloading our mobile app, which lets you see real-time data, change settings, disable alarms and readjust temperature limits remotely. The optional rack-mounted LCD provides an at-a-glance reading for a quick, convenient visual check of current sensor information.
Our technical experts are on hand to provide free support via the phone or email. They can walk you through the installation process and answer any questions you might have about programming and use.
6. What is the monthly fee to access all of the Stratus EMS system’s functionality?
You can use the Stratus EMS without paying for a subscription. It’s as simple as creating an account on www.sensaphone.net and registering your device. Our premium subscription, which has a low monthly fee of $14.95, unlocks features such as text messaging, phone call alerts and unlimited data logging access. As mentioned earlier, if you are using the LTE Cellular Modem, you’ll need to subscribe to our low-cost cellular plan.
7. What is the difference between a wired and wireless monitoring system?
Wireless can mean two different things as it relates to monitoring: How the system communicates its data and sends alerts to the outside world and how the sensors communicate with the system.
As noted above, the Stratus EMS requires an internet or WiFi connection or the LTE Cellular Modem to communicate with users. In general, sensors communicate with the base units either through wires that connect them to the monitoring device, or wirelessly through built-in radio transmitters that communicate with the base unit. The Stratus EMS can accommodate wired sensors only.
8. How are we notified if a sensor reading falls out of the desired range?
The Stratus EMS system immediately alerts personnel on your contact list. The Stratus EMS can notify an unlimited number of people by email, text message or voice phone calls in the event of an alert. It automatically cycles through the contact list until someone responds. It also allows for flexible scheduling, so off-duty personnel doesn’t receive alerts.
9. What happens if there’s a power outage?
The Stratus EMS provides up to 30 hours of extended battery backup life. Because it is a cloud-based system, it constantly communicates a signal to the cloud to validate its online status. If the communication link is interrupted — for example by a power outage or someone switching off the unit — the system generates an alert indicating that the internet connection is lost or that there is a cellular communications problem. Users are alerted about the disruption through phone, text or email. All data collected during this time is stored in the device and will be uploaded to the cloud when the internet/cellular connection is restored.
10. Is technical support included?
Yes, our experienced tech support team members will walk you through any questions you have about your monitoring system. Often, they can diagnose and correct unit setup and programming issues over the phone. If the system stops working as it should, we offer full repair services. If possible, please record your observations regarding the issue so the tech team can look for trends and relevant circumstances to better analyze the problem.
To learn more about the Stratus EMS, contact a Sensaphone expert or watch the video below.