Data Center Monitoring: Software & Tools

Instructor: Michelle DeSalvo

Michelle has been an academic librarian for over twenty years. She has a Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Did you know that data center monitoring is something that impacts your life? In this lesson, you will learn why data center monitoring matters to you.

Definition and Background

In one day, how many Internet searches do you complete? Do you use any social networking sites such as Facebook? Do you do any shopping either online or at a brick-and-mortar store? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, then you are impacted by data center monitoring. Data center monitoring is the process of ensuring that the organization is in compliance with its data requirements. Although data center monitoring has a surprisingly long past, future needs are always the focus. The good news is that there are many tools and applications available.

One major tool that you will hear about is the Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) model. This model highlights the marriage between both facilities and information technology in making data monitoring optimal.



How far does data center monitoring go back? Mainframe computers are considered the original data center monitors. Mainframe computers are known for bulk processing and using shared operating systems. Their large size could take up entire rooms and they were costly. Part of the expense was having someone with the right technical wizardry to run them.

Mainframes have three types of tools for data center monitoring. In real-time processing, live results are available but the information can sometimes be inaccurate. Another option is to use near-time results. Troubleshooting is better with this tool. Yet, doing a fine-tuning is difficult. The third option is post-processing. Clearly, this is the best option for getting the big picture. On the other hand, the data may be not current enough for decision-making.

Also, keep in mind that mainframes were completely centralized. Open system client servers soon replaced the mainframes. In fact, client servers started the revolution of decentralization. The focus of data monitoring became each tier or layer of the process. Service User Agreements became useful during this time. They ensure that at every tier data will continue to be monitored.

New challenges in data monitoring came with the advent of the Internet. The network itself became the focus of any issues. Blaming the network instead of underlying issues became very easy.


When you think of the environment, what comes to mind? Do you think of rain forests and oceans? Computers are impacted by the environment in many ways. Green computing is a movement where respecting the environment is a major goal. Monitoring power is a main component. Power can be measured in a unit called a PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness).

How many of us would think of water and computing in the same sentence? Yet, water is a driving force in the green computing movement. In a similar way to measuring power, water can be measured by Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE). Many data center monitoring sites are becoming more conservation-friendly.

Data center monitoring involves many factors. Humidity, static, and temperatures all need to be controlled. Avoiding fires is another goal.

Security is always on center stage with data monitoring. Physical security includes the location of the data center monitoring. Is it in a secured location? Are there security employees or cameras?

Security can also mean the safety of the data from different threats. Every day we seem to hear more about hacking and identify theft. Every type of organization seems to be impacted, from banks to government sites.


Cloud Computing

Data center monitoring is continually being updated. For instance, do you ever use Evernote or Dropbox? Did you know that they are all cloud computing applications? In cloud computing, applications are available and information is stored over the Internet. Even hardware can be managed by could computing. Mostly, the client is only charged for what services they actually use. The key benefit of cloud computing is additional storage space. The major downfall could be the cost. Letting go over controlling the data is another factor. Sometimes organizations will use multiple cloud computing companies for their various needs.

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