We hear a lot about data security and methods for protecting yourself against cybercrime attacks, but it’s also important not to overlook the physical security of IT equipment as theft from racks can be costly. For example, a 10TB hard drive can cost around £600 and with up to 22 drives used in a 4U storage array, losses can be substantial.
As a result, data centres are increasingly looking for cost efficient solutions to manage key assets. Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is an emerging approach that pairs equipment and facilities with monitoring software for centralised control. DCIM includes physical and asset components and it raises the effectiveness of a data centre by combining both IT and facilities management.
Monitoring of equipment inside the data centre has additional benefits, not only in terms of security, but also for managing cooling air-flow requirements and power use. This allows centres to closely monitor energy consumption, demonstrate compliance with environmental initiatives and save money.
RFID is a key element to providing real-time monitoring of equipment within the data centre. By installing passive RFID tags on every removable component, data centre systems integrators and site managers can easily record detailed information about the component and its location within the data centre.
However, the method of implementing RFID monitoring is critical to the performance of the system. Portable handheld RFID readers have a very small read range and only offer a slightly better performance than relying on paper records or barcodes. As a result, this method requires employees to walk down aisles and physically identify the piece of equipment and its location, an extremely time-consuming task which also relies on the competence and integrity of the operator.
Up until now it has also been unrealistic to directly integrate even the most compact passive RFID Ultra High Frequency (UHF) patch antennas into data centre server racks. Typically, four antennas would need to be separately mounted either side of each server rack in both the upper and lower areas and carefully positioned to ensure there are no gaps in the field coverage. Correspondingly, with such an arrangement, it would also be necessary to utilise multiple RFID readers, resulting in prohibitive costs.
HARTING have now resolved the cost and installation issues around multiple antenna and reader arrangements with their innovative Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® coaxial cable waveguide antenna, which allows you to identify what is in a data centre rack, its population status and where a specific item is located.
Using insulation spacers, LOCFIELD® antenna can be directly integrated onto the access door of each server, meaning only one antenna is required for a fully installed 45U server rack. By fitting the antenna in an extended S-shape design, you can achieve total field coverage of the complete rack. Used in conjunction with a single RFID reader, the antenna can register passive RFID tags and additional sensor functionalities such as detecting empty or occupied slots, thus minimising the installation cost.
The Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® antenna allows real-time monitoring of movements in and out of the rack enclosure and is available in different lengths, up to 10 metres. If used with a high-powered reader, such as HARTING’s Ha-VIS RF-R500, it can read passive transponders located up to 2.5 metres away.