IT/Networking: Power Monitoring and Management

Being able to handle power concerns across all connected devices is paramount to your customers


Today’s security and information technology systems are far more complex and more widely distributed than in the past; thus, the challenge of managing them has become a more arduous task — demanding that security managers and IT managers be constantly informed about the status of all devices within their systems. With visibility of status and availability of various security and network devices a critical concern, manageability of those components has moved from the “nice-to-have” category to “must-have” for many managers — which of course means it is a “must-offer” for the systems integrators who serve them.

Since power is the essential fuel that keeps security systems and networks functioning, being able to monitor and manage all system devices can be a time-saving tool while alleviating headaches involved with keeping up with the status of remotely located devices.

All of the advances in power protection and management make the life of a security or IT manager much easier. Solution providers can do their customers a big favor by knowing about all of the available tools. Selling these types of solutions can mean additional revenue for the dealer, along with having a happier customer who doesn’t have to drive to a location in the middle of the night just to reboot a locked up device.

 

The Evolution of Power Management

Power management software was one of the first major advancements in Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) technology nearly 20 years ago, enabling communication and control. While it was a great milestone in power protection, security and IT managers’ attitude was, “if we can monitor the UPS, why can’t we do more?”

Power management software evolved into being able to control the devices attached to the UPS — adding such features as remote restarts, power problem diagnosis, load-shedding and scheduled events. Using power management software now enables security and IT managers to monitor and control attached devices across the building or across the country.

This was a major advancement, but the need surfaced to have manufacturer-agnostic and device-agnostic technology. Enter a new network management tool called SNMP.

 

Putting SNMP and RPM to Work

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) has emerged as an industry standard way to monitor and control a wide range of network appliances. The adoption rate grew slowly, but now the technology has become mainstream in IT networking.

Security managers have become more aware of this important tool as more IP-based devices are deployed running on the backbone of the IT department’s network. It is incumbent on security distributors, dealers and installers to familiarize themselves with and help their security customers use IP technology — as the security world’s integration with the IT world continues.

At its basic level, SNMP requires two components to operate: a network management system (NMS) which runs on a workstation or server, and a software “agent,” which enables the networked devices to talk to the network manager system.

When certain conditions configured for a network device are met, such as a power outage, a temperature threshold being exceeded, utility voltage being too low, or an unauthorized access attempt is made, a “trap” is registered with the NMS and a notification is sent to management personnel describing the event. This enables immediate response and remediation. The advantage of using SNMP is that it is device-agnostic, along with having industry-standard acceptance.

Another technology for the remote management of devices is Remote Power Management (RPM), a somewhat new technology that solves the frequent problem of device lock-ups.

We all know that electronic equipment can lock up occasionally, and the causes can range from power glitches, to an equipment firmware problem or even over-heating. When a device locks up and is remotely located on a light pole in a parking lot, hidden in the rafters above ceiling tiles, inside an equipment closet, or in an office located across the country, the only solution is to manually turn the power switch off and then back on to reboot the locked up device. This is an obvious problem when accessing the device is difficult to impossible.

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