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1U Rack Monitoring: How to Maximize Remote Telemetry Unit (RTU) Value

1U indicates the height of a rack-mountable piece of equipment. It's typically installed in a 19" or 23" wide equipment rack. One U is equal to 1.75 inches and is also the standard for measuring the height of rack-mounted devices. The number preceding the "U" is simply a count of rack units required for a specific device.

The rack unit of measurement is commonly employed in computing and IT applications. This is where large amounts of equipment may need to be mounted and organized. The RU helps IT professionals plan the distribution of equipment across racks in their data center. A typical rack consists of 42U, or slightly more than 6 feet worth of equipment.

As IT planners map out rack mountable equipment, it may be necessary to allot some space per rack for remote telemetry devices, power switches, and other supplemental gear that doesn't contribute directly to the network's capabilities. This will help technicians maintain, repair, and optimize the network. The size, density, and capabilities of each supplemental device will help determine how much space must be used for alarm monitoring systems. Given the allotted space per unit of equipment, taking these factors into consideration will guide your IT professionals to choose the right equipment to maximize your network's uptime and monitoring your network.

About Remote Telemetry Systems

Alarm monitoring systems help inform IT professionals when a problem has occurred within the network. While they may rather utilize all of their rack space on equipment that expands their network capabilities, alarm monitoring is essential to maximizing network uptime. It informs technicians of when and where problems occur. In the event of a failure, it helps professionals understand and repair the problem as quickly as possible. When you pro-actively monitor your network's equipment, you can essentially avoid and prevent network downtime.

Knowing and controlling the environment within and surrounding your network's equipment is also a key factor in maintaining your network's uptime. For example, if the environment surrounding your network's equipment gets too hot (exceeds a pre-set threshold), some RTUs, like the NetGuardian LT or TempDefender G2, allow you to pre-configure them to automatically turn on the HVAC unit. Other RTUs, like the Battery Voltage Monitor (BVM) 48, can monitor your battery cells and notify you of the problem.

These RTUs will monitor your equipment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This will remove the need to periodically check the status of your equipment since the RTU(s) is already doing it for you. By deploying a RTU, the only time you'll have to check on your equipment is when it notifies you of the problem - on an as needed basis. As a result, this will save you time and money to invest into other important needs.

The NetGuardian 832A G5 rear view. This image has Data Ports, Sensor Power Supply, Optional 10/100BaseT Switch, Dual Power Feeds, Dual Fuses, Alarm & Relay Connectors, Dedicated Accessory Port, Telco Jack, and Dual 100BaseT Ethernet Ports. DPS can add or remove certain options from builds upon your request to meet your specific needs.
The NetGuardian 832A G5 crams as much functionality into a single RU as possible, with 32 discrete points, 8 analog inputs, 8 control outputs, 8 data ports for reach-through access, an 4 port switch, and a sensor power supply.

So IT professionals must maximize the rack space that they have for network equipment without sacrificing alarm monitoring capabilities. As they search for the right alarm monitoring equipment, they will consider three things:

  1. Size (self explanatory) - How much space will this unit occupy? Most RTUs will take up 1U of rack space. The T/Mon Alarm Master station will occupy 3U of rack space.
  2. Density - What and how many alarms, analogs, and control relays are available? DPS designs and manufactures many RTUs and Alarm Master Stations that are designed for small, medium, or large applications. See which RTU or Alarm Master Station is right for you.
  3. Capabilities - What are the features of this RTU? How will deploying this unit benefit me and/or my company? Specific applications call for specific needs, and different RTUs have different capabilities. DPS offers many RTUs and Alarm Master Stations with different builds. With our expertise, we can guide you towards the right units and you can decide which one is right for your application.

Most RTUs take 1U of space. However, depending on your needs, you can get half-rack RTUs. A half-rack - equipment that takes half the width of a 19" or 23" rack - allows a technician to cram more equipment on to a rack. It places 2 devices in the same 1U space, side by side. DPS Telecom's NetGuardian 216 and TempDefender are half-rack units that still manage to provide medium alarm density and the capabilities of a larger remote.

Because most RTUs take up one RU or less, capacity is the larger concern for most IT planners: How many devices can they monitor with their one RU? The NetGuardian 864A from DPS Telecom maximizes rack space by loading 64 discrete points, 8 analog inputs, and 8 control relays into 1U of space. However, depending on a user's monitoring needs, capacity will have to be flexible. Some users want an RTU with more control relays. The NetGuardian Voice comes with an option for 18 relays. Some IT planners might be after a unit with maximum analog sensor coverage. For them, the TempDefender, taking up just 1U half-rack worth of space, supporting 16 analog sensors, may be the solution. Placing 2 TempDefenders next to each other for 32 analog inputs in a 1U space can also be a viable solution.

The NetGuardian series remotes also offer 1U expansions for even greater capacity without installing another full RTU. The NetGuardians also have 66 blocks and pluggable termination options. This makes installing alarms and running cables throughout the data center a breeze.

Capabilities to Make the Most of 1U Rack Space

There are other factors an IT professional must consider when looking for the best RTU to fill the 1U of rack space. The RTU must have an interface that technicians can take advantage of. The RTU could offer great capacity for its size, but if its interface utterly confounds any technician unfortunate enough to use it, the IT team may as well not have it. So it must be easy enough to facilitate, use, and operate.

The NetGuardian 832A G5 Web Browser Interface. The Web Browser Interface is easy to use and offers detailed alarm point information and descriptions for your alarms.
The NetGuardian 832A G5's web interface is easy to use and offers detailed alarm point information and descriptions for your alarms.

The NetGuardian series remotes from DPS Telecom utilize a simple, user-friendly web browser interface. It is accessed simply by entering the IP address of the RTU and then a user name and password. Offline editors for some NetGuardian RTUs are also available. This allows for easy databasing of multiple units and the ability to save configuration files offline, which is backed up. This is precautionary in case technicians restore the unit to its factory configuration or the unit fails.

The RTU must be able to communicate to a master alarm station so technicians can easily collect alarms. It doesn't necessarily have to connect to a master station directly, so long as a device somewhere in the network can mediate the RTU's protocol to your master alarm station. The RTU cannot simply operate in its own protocol outside current monitoring systems.

1U rack-mount RTUs may fulfill other requirements - providing specialized notifications, alarming, and control functionality:

  • The Remote Power Switch products from DPS Telecom, for example, are Power Distribution Units (PDUs) with remote telemetry functionality. They allow users to control power to equipment while still providing 16 discrete alarms, 4 controls, and 2 analog inputs.
  • The NetGuardian Voice 16 provides voice notification and DTMF call-in features for 16 discrete alarms, 8 analog inputs, and 2 or 18 controls. Technicians can check up on a site or a rack as easily as making a phone call.
  • NetGuardians are available with Fiber or T1 inputs, and built-in switches, allowing the RTU to extend LAN access to equipment at your sites or on your racks without you having to install a separate switch. This effectively spares you rack space.
The Remote Power Switch Rear View. The Remote Power Switch and RTU offers control for your DC powered equipment, even when you're miles away. It also has alarm monitoring and control capability, to help you make the most of 1U of rack space.
The Remote Power Switch and RTU offers control for your DC powered equipment, even when you're miles away. It also has alarm monitoring and control capability, to help you make the most of 1U of rack space.

Ultimately, it's up to you to find the best way to utilize your rack space for alarm remotes. However, when you're looking for RTUs, look for the device that provides the most alarms and functionality per 1U rack space, to ensure that you don't waste space on other equipment now or in the future. Get the most out of the RTU(s) that you will be deploying at your sites.

Also, look for a device that utilizes an easy to use, user friendly web interface. You may already have a headache resulting from the planning of your data center's equipment. Why not use a web interface that is easy to learn how to configure and set up?

DPS is always here to help you with your questions or concerns regarding network alarming monitoring. This includes, but is not limited to RTUs, Alarm Master Stations, network protocols, and various sensors. Just give us a call at 1-800-693-0351 and speak to one of our Sales Engineers that have years of experience in the telecommunications field. We may already have what you've been looking for.