If you’re an IT administrator or manager of some sort, it’s increasingly likely that you’re responsible for more than one site. In many cases, it may be more like 5, 50 or even 500 sites, many if not all of them with no dedicated IT staff.
With little in the way of IT staff to help manage those sites, companies need all the help they can get in terms of technology that can do the job. Below are four tried and true ways that you can do more with less by effectively monitoring remote sites.
1. Deploy remote power management
Many of the power distribution units (PDUs) and outlet strips now available can be controlled remotely. From a central location, you can remotely cycle power, shed load and sequence outlet power to ensure devices turn on correctly and safely.
Think about what that means in practice. When a server is hung you can simply cycle its power off and on to restart it, rather than trying to talk someone on site through the process via phone or sending out professional IT help. Remote power management also enables you to ensure unused outlets remain off, so nobody will use them and risk accidentally tripping a circuit breaker.
2. Monitor environmental conditions
When you’re hundreds of miles away, you have no way of knowing what kind of environmental conditions may be affecting your remote IT systems – that is, unless you install probes to capture information on temperature, humidity, smoke and leaks. You can also install sensors that detect when doors open and if there’s motion inside a remote server room or wiring closet.
Such systems serve at least two important purposes. Firstly, they’ll alert you to situations that can be potentially damaging to IT equipment, such as water leaks or unauthorised visitors. Secondly, with data from temperature and humidity probes, you’ll know whether the cooling and ventilation is adequate for the site and can take steps to correct any problems before they cause real harm.
3. Deploy pre-installed equipment
Customers can increasingly buy racks and enclosures that can be shipped with servers and other IT equipment already installed inside. That means IT can install, configure and test the equipment before shipping it to the remote site. Alternatively, some vendors will sell the enclosures pre-configured to your specs.
Such a strategy can dramatically reduce installation time, since the system is already configured and validated. It can also dramatically decrease the need for on-site IT expertise during installation. This can result in significant cost savings.
4. Centrally manage multiple sites
A central management system can aggregate data and statistics from all of your sites and present it in on a single console, via an easy to read user interface. A good vendor-neutral system will be able to handle all the various devices and systems you need to manage, with the ability to send proactive alerts to the most appropriate people.
With this kind of system you don’t need to log in to each remote system individually, which gets increasingly impractical as the number and size of remote sites grows. What’s more, the systems allow for multi-user access, enabling around the clock coverage and the ability for specialists to handle their respective portions of the infrastructure.
To learn more, check out my webcast, “Strategies for managing distributed IT environments.”