The Ins-and-Outs of Hardware Monitoring

Avid PC gamers know that if you want optimal performance, you have to push your computer to its limits. And if your gaming “rig” is not properly equipped with a large interior fan, your PC can overheat, resulting in more than a few performance issues.

It is the same for enterprise-level devices or pieces of hardware: overheating creates problems. One such enterprise-level piece of hardware (and arguably the most crucial piece of equipment) is a server. Unsurprisingly, well-known enterprises have an abundance of servers.

According to the Verge, Netflix has over 17,000 servers across the streaming giant’s offices and other locations worldwide. On an even larger scale, Time reports that Google has a little over two million servers that are housed in nearly 30 data centers. With those numbers in mind, both Netflix and Google’s respective IT teams are required to monitor all that hardware.

With today’s hybrid and remote work environments, keeping up on your servers’ health is more important than ever, especially since servers are prone to overheat if proper care is not taken. For the letter H in our ABCs of ITIM, we are discussing what Hardware Monitoring is, why it’s so significant and what IT professionals can do to solve potential hardware performance problems.

What is Hardware Monitoring, and Why Should I Care?

Hardware monitoring is the practice in which an IT professional uses a tool or method to collect and analyze data from the available sensors in a system. Many physical components (servers, fans, batteries, etc.) have sensors inside it that can detect or measure changes. Those are very helpful when monitoring hardware for an enterprise.

IT and network professionals reap several benefits when utilizing hardware monitoring practices, including the ability to:

  • Immediately identify server hardware health issues such as high temperature, bad disks or high CPU usage
  • Provide alerting and notification of server and hardware issues
  • Forecast and plan for energy capacity limits
  • Reduce downtime for servers and applications

As we alluded to earlier, overheating is one of the most common problems for enterprise hardware. For example, whenever a server starts overheating, it can result in a variety of both short-term and long-term problems ranging from blown CPUs, corrupted program memory, system shutdowns (that result in other memory-related problems) and lackluster hardware performance.

Paying attention to the components of the hardware is an efficient way to keep track of the health of your servers. For example, if your server is operating at a high temperature for an extended period, that can indicate deeper issues. If possible, you should set up a temperature monitor that will check the status of a device’s temperature sensors—if the sensor’s state indicator returns a “normal” or “ok,” it is considered up.

The best method is to monitor the essential indicators of server health, which includes CPU, memory and disk utilization. When utilizing active monitors and automated alerts, users will receive notifications indicating what is going on with the hardware. These are not mutually exclusive to servers—any enterprise-level piece of hardware with sensors and indicators can be monitored.

Progress WhatsUp Gold’s hardware monitoring solutions can also be configured to display information such as fan and power supply status. The information available about the server depends on the device being monitored. Typically, we are able to monitor all of this information for Dell, Cisco, HP and EMC devices.

Monitoring Servers, Fans and Other Types of Hardware with WhatsUp Gold

Available out of the box, WhatsUp Gold’s hardware monitoring capabilities can help mitigate issues involving lackluster performances before they begin. WhatsUp Gold’s core abilities with hardware monitoring include the following:

  • WhatsUp Gold sends alerts when the UPS battery capacity is below a configurable threshold, if the temperature inside the battery goes too high or if a battery goes into bypass mode as a result of a battery overload.
  • Performance monitors and graphing help track the devices that tend to experience high temperatures.
  • WhatsUp Gold can identify potential problems involved with fan operation, including inaction or replacement.

The automated alerts in WhatsUp Gold help end-users know where and when to fix hardware issues. With Alert Escalation, users can configure notification policies in the Alert Center to escalate alerts based on the criticality of the network components. The alerts can move from automatic trouble ticket generation to sending out warnings to pre-designated administrators.

Alert Acknowledgement, an additional notification feature, notifies users when addressing an ongoing hardware issue. If WhatsUp Gold is no longer sending alerts (unless triggered by the notification policy or as log messages after) the issue has been resolved. The Alert Acknowledgement tool also ensures that problems not fixed within the timeframe are being addressed appropriately.

Automated Hardware Discovery, Available Out of the Box

While customers have always been able to use WhatsUp Gold to monitor hardware status through manual configurations, as of October 2022 (Release 2022.1) you now have hardware status monitoring functionality available right “out of the box.” To do this, WhatsUp Gold utilizes the Redfish discovery tool, as you can see in the short “how to” video below.

Hardware Monitoring is Beneficial to Your IT and Network Infrastructure

Monitoring a physical piece of hardware in the office is no longer a pipe dream. If a company has a multitude of servers, hardware monitoring is now more important than ever. Deploying a hardware monitoring solution, IT professionals begin to analyze system resource usage and readily identify issues caused by poor hardware performance.

Next time a performance issue occurs with an overheating server or program failure, deploying an IT infrastructure monitoring solution can make all the difference for the operational success of your workplace environment. Learn more about how WhatsUp Gold can help with your hardware monitoring needs.

View All of The ABCs of Infrastructure Monitoring

Looking to start on the basics of IT infrastructure monitoring? Our alphabetized index is an excellent place to begin or extend your education. View all of our current topics.

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