A range of articles, primarily written by the staff at OPENXTRA, on a range of topics related to I.T. If there's anything you'd like to see covered here, please get in touch.

Recommended Server Room Temperature

thermometer bulbAn exploration of the recommended server room temperature and the issues surrounding maintaining the recommended temperature. Figuring out the right temperature to run your server room at can be tricky, you don't want to run the server room too hot and potentially damage equipment, but you don't want to run it too cold and waste electricity and therefore money. Just what is the right temperature for a server room?

Environmental Monitoring - A Server Room Essential?

Environmental monitoring is essential in your server rooms & data centers. Environmental conditions have a huge impact on how reliable and long lived your servers, switches and routers will be. Bad environmental conditions can reduce the life of components, decrease reliability, and cause you untold problems and expense.

Server Room Monitoring Introduction

The various aspects that make up server room monitoring make it a fascinating topic in its own right. Apart from the obvious environmental monitoring concerns there is also physical access control and monitoring, as well as infrastructure monitoring to consider.

The Heat Is...On

A Review of the Xsensior Lite USB Temperature Monitor by Brendan Mulvanney of Sentinel IS.

Improve Data Centre Monitoring

Is this the year you finally get around to implementing a comprehensive monitoring plan for your data centre? Odds are you’re at least considering it. Data centre monitoring can give you an accurate real-time snapshot depicting the current state of your enterprise’s critical infrastructure and, in the process, help you save money and avert disaster.

High Density Data Center Monitoring - Verification and Auditing in the Data Centre

Technology ServerWhat effect will installing a new equipment rack have on your existing data centre environment? Will the temperature and humidity levels change?  Will your existing airconditioning system handle the load? Have you introduced a new hot spot in the data centre?  Where do you place the measuring equipment to get accurate readings?

Temperature Monitoring ASHRAE Standards Proving a Hot Topic in Data Centre Management

thermometer bulbThe subject of data center temperature monitoring is something that should be on the mind of every IT manager and chief information officer as energy consumption can become a significant expense to any organisation. But according to new ASHRAE standards and specifications, a rise in temperature may actually reduce energy consumption.

Customising the Web Interface on the AKCP SecurityProbe

As supplied,  the opening page of the web interface on the AKCP securityProbe shows details of the manufacturer, AKCP, the company logo, and the product name. All these details can be changed using a series of SNMP commands.

5 Things to Know About Data Centre Temperature

How can data centre administrators start making the right decisions in terms of temperature and humidity? Where should the appropriate limits be set? What technologies are available to tackle these issues?


Ping is a simple tool used to test the availability and responsiveness of a networked device. Ping uses the ICMP echo request protocol defined in RFC 792 that is a part of the TCP/IP protocol.

Monitoring the Operational Status of Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRAC)

A breakdown of the status factors to measure and record for each Computer Room Air Conditioner (CRAC) unit in your computer room, data centre or server room. The paper also gives a justification for why you should record each status factor and what you should do with the information once you've recorded it.

Monitoring Temperature in the Server Room

An investigation into the issues involved in measuring the temperature in your server room along with some suggestions for how you should go about it.

Server Room Thermometer

An outline of the various options you have when you are choosing a server room thermometer including the pros and cons of each

Temperature Logging

An introduction to temperature logging with a break down of the different approaches with a discussion of the various pros and cons of each approach.

Telephone Testing Introduction

A quick guide to troubleshooting telephone faults with a break down of the systematic approach required as well as cable testing and telephone testing equipment that would prove useful.

Cable Tracer Introduction

An introduction to cable tracer technologies and tools for IT professionals to help you choose the right tool for taming your cable tracing requirements.

Ethernet Thermometer Introduction

An introduction to ethernet thermometers giving an overview of their uses as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

Network Thermometer Introduction

A Network Thermometer permanently attached to your Ethernet (IP network) and constantly reporting measurements is one of the most cost effective measures you can take to safeguard the security of your company data network.

Alternating Hot and Cold Aisles Provides More Reliable Cooling for Server Farms

The creation of "server farms" comprising hundreds of individual file servers has become quite commonplace in the new e-commerce economy, while other businesses spawn farms by moving equipment previously in closets or under desktops into a centralized data center environment. However, many of these farms are hastily planned and implemented as the needed equipment must be quickly installed on a rush schedule. The typical result is a somewhat haphazard layout on the raised floor that can have disastrous consequences due to environment temperature disparities. Unfortunatley, this lack of floor-layout planning is not apparent until after serious reliability problems have already occurred.

Cable Performance Requirements for Copper Cable Testing

The ANSI/TIA/EIA 568 B standard covers two types of links.

Category 5 (CAT5) Cable

Category 5, or as it is more commonly known, CAT5 is a twisted pair cabling standard developed by the TIA.

Category 5e (CAT5e) Cable

CAT5e, short for Category 5 enhanced, is a twisted pair cable standard developed by the TIA & EIA.

Category 6 (CAT6) Cable

CAT6, short for Category 6, is a twisted pair cable standard developed by the TIA & EIA.

Ethernet Network Cabling

A wide range of cabling types have been used to run Ethernet systems. This document deals with copper cabling only, other standards exist for fibre optic cables.

Network Cable Testing

Testing new cabling is an important consideration. During the installation process cables can become damaged or kinked, insulation can be broken, some connections may be poorly crimped, and so on. Electrical interference and other environmental factors may affect network performance. You will probably need to produce a report for your customer validating that everything conforms to the required standards.

Network Cabling

Traditionally networks have involved connecting devices together using some type of cabling system. Wireless technologies allow networks to operate without physical connections between the devices. Most existing networks use cables of some sort.

Network Management

As soon as a device on your network sends a packet to another device, it is the network manager’s job to ensure the packet arrives at the destination(s) in a timely manner.

The Problem of Thermal Management

If you’re not having trouble with the thermal management of your data center yet, you soon will - It’s virtually inevitable. This short paper outlines why heat will continue to grow as a major contributor to downtime, and suggests steps you can take to maintain a thermal environment that protects the most valuable asset of any modern enterprise. Further, this document will also illustrate how thermal considerations impact other components of the data center ecosystem, such as the need for space, asset management, and effective organization.

Sending SMS Messages to Landline Phones

Network Managers need to be alerted to problems on the network at all times. But how to achieve this? Sending emails is the most common method used, but what if the user isn’t at their machine, or it’s not switched on? In certain circumstances alarm bells or lights work well. Third party monitoring companies are excellent, give 24/7 coverage but are very expensive. Is there an alternative, cheap, reliable method of receiving alerts?

Analysing Wireless Networks

Wireless networks are everywhere. Odd then that so many users who spend money on Firewalls, Virus protection and the rest then leave their wireless networks wide open to any passing hacker. Stealing free Internet access is as easy as connecting to an unprotected network and opening your browser.

Big Brother Introduction

Big Brother is a network monitor that uses a client-server architecture combined with methods which both push and pull data to monitor System and Network-delivered services for availability in real time. It gathers information from agents on your system and performs tests against the system being monitored. This data is then passed upstream to a central location where your current network status is displayed on a color-coded web page in near-real time, red for failure, green for fine. When problems are detected, you can be notified by e-mail, pager, or text messaging.

Temperature Monitoring and Implementing the BRC / CMi Accreditation Standards

Any organisation involved in the preparation or storage of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat or fish has a legal obligation to demonstrate "due diligence". Managers need to ensure that there are food safety systems implemented within the organisation in order to maintain and be able to prove the highest levels of quality and safety at all times. Continuous, networked environmental monitoring can help ensure that such standards are monitored and maintained.

Business Continuity and the Data Centre

Whether working in health, pharmaceuticals, financial or any other organisation, facilities managers are increasingly required to have strategies in place for business continuity. And it’s no surprise that IT and telecommunications failure, as the blood flow and nerves of a business, remain the top cause of disruption to business continuity, according to a survey of UK business managers by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

Computer Room Temperature

Today’s Servers generate vast amounts of heat. If you do not monitor your computer room temperature you could cause irreparable damage to your computers and to your business.

An Introduction to Emissivity in Infrared Thermometers

An introduction to material emissivity and how it affects measurement using an infrared thermometer or radiation thermometer.

Introduction to the ES 201 912 Protocol

The ES 201 912 protocol defines how SMS messages will be sent to/from mobile and landline telephone networks.

Intellipool Network Monitor (INM) Introduction

The Intellipool Network Monitor (INM) is an easy to use and feature rich web based network monitor that enables you to monitor, report, and alert errors on your servers, routers and workstations 24/7.

HostMonitor Introduction

HostMonitor published by KS-soft, is a Windows based system management tool for monitoring server availability and performance 24/7. If a monitored device does not respond to a test using your own parameters, HostMonitor will alert you and/or take any of 25 pre-defined actions such as email message or shutting down a service.

IPSentry Introduction

IPSentry is an Internet tool, first developed in 1996 that will continually monitor all your Internet and intranet TCP/IP network servers 24/7, ensuring your email servers, Web sites, FTP servers, news servers, and any other TCP/IP-based services are active and responding.

Nagios Introduction

Nagios is a free, open-source web-based network monitor developed by Ethan Galstad. Nagios is designed to run on Linux, but can be also be used on Unix variants. Nagios monitors the status of host systems and network services and notifies the user of problems.

Network Cable Testing What Causes Data Loss?

An outline of the causes of network cable data loss and why gigabit cabling is more of a challenge than cables running at lower speeds.

What Types of Network Security Attacks are Perpetrated?

An investigation into the broad types of network security attacks that network managers need to be aware of.

Who Perpetrates Network Security Attacks?

An exploration of who perpetrates network security attacks and what are their motivations.

Network Cable Testing Introduction

Network Cable Testing, the physical and electrical testing of Network cabling, is a very specialist area. As a Network Manager you have to deal with cable faults, broken wires, incompatibilities and a host of other cable related issues. What can you do? What do you need to test for?

Network Configuration Management Introduction

An exploration of the reasons why you should be interested in network configuration management. An outline is also presented of the available tools.

Alarming & Alerting in Network Management

A roundup of the network manager’s options for the implementation of alarming & alerting solutions for their monitoring applications.

Network Management Everywhere

How you can have the network management tools you want everywhere you need them without breaking the bank.

Network Management - On Demand

Outlines the properties of on demand tools and why they are important.

Network Mapping Introduction

Beyond a certain size networks become difficult to visualize without graphical aids. There are a number of tools to aid in the production of network maps. This article provides reasons why you should be interested in network mapping, as well as an overview of the available tools.

Network Security Attacks

A roundup of the types of network security attacks that any network manager faces out in the wild. It’s a jungle out there, and you need to be mindful of the types of threats you are likely to face.

Network Simulation Introduction

Network simulation is a much underestimated tool in the network manager’s arsenal. When used properly they can help take some of the guesswork out of network planning.

A Network Troubleshooting Strategy

A simple strategy for troubleshooting common network problems.

Open Source Tools in Network Management - Time for a fresh look?

An outline of the pros and cons of using open source tools for network management.

Retina Network Security Scanner

Vulnerability scanners are useful tools for identifying potential vulnerabilities and security breaches and suggesting tips on how to correct any problems found. Retina is an award winning network scanner developed by California based Eye Digital Security that scans all types of operating systems, hosts, servers, routers and firewalls and reports on more than 1500 vulnerabilities. Retina, like Nessus, has NMap, the open source vulnerability and network discovery tool, at its core.

Skimp on Server Room Air Conditioning? At Your Peril

The following is an excerpt from a reply by Robert G. Brown, Duke University first posted on Just how crucial adequate air conditioning is, the relative costs, and the fall-out he experienced for months after an AC failure is clearly illustrated.

Software Value - What is it and How is it Measured?

A paper discussing software value and who reaps the benefit of that value.

Test-Um Validator NT950 Beats the Standard

Validator is a new kind of network tester that uses advanced digital signal generation to measure the actual noise levels on cable runs. The result is that Validator actually proves that the cable will transmit error free data at the specified rate.

Ticket Management Introduction

Ticket Management software allows you to log problems, allocate them to engineers and track the progress. Ticket Management tools are essential for the smooth running of all but the smallest networks. Which is the best Ticket Management solution for you?

Why is WEP crackable? How WEP weaknesses affect your wireless network security

An exploration of the security weaknesses of the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP).

Wetness Monitoring - Why bother?

Wetness monitoring is the Cinderella of the monitoring world. It never fails to amaze me how few people deploy any kind of effective wetness monitoring, and how many have had experience of floods and leaking pipes in their server room.

Wetness Monitoring - Care of Probes

The Environmental Monitor EM1 addresses wetness monitoring in a more sophisticated way than most wetness monitoring products. The Sensatronics range of probes do not just alarm on wet or not wet conditions, rather there is a wetness scale from 1 to 100, representing different levels of ’wetness’. The scale is an arbitrary one and may vary slightly from one probe to another but it is none the less useful as a guide to the degree of wetness. Setting a level too high may result in false alarms if humidity is high, so typically a value of around 40 would be used to trigger an alert.

What's Up Gold Introduction

Developed originally from a Freeware utility called WS Watch by John Junod, What’s Up Gold is a relatively inexpensive award-winning and popular network monitoring, mapping, notification and performance tool from Ipswitch.

An Introduction to Wireless Networks for the Small/Medium Enterprise

Wireless Networking, WiFi, is not a new technology, but it is only recently that it has become mainstream. What are the benefits of wireless networks and should you be considering using it?

Wireless Network Planning and Deploying

Planning a WiFi (wireless) network is similar in many respects to planning a wired network. You have to consider all the basics, how many users do you need to accommodate, where are you going to deploy the solution and so on. But wireless also brings with its own set issues, chief amongst these is the common perception that WiFi is insecure.

Wireless Network Security vs Wire Based Network Security

A discussion of wireless network security and how it differs from the security required for a traditional wire based network.

WPA vs WPA2 (802.11i): How your Choice Affects your Wireless Network Security

A discussion of why 802.11i (WPA2) provides stronger wireless security than WiFi Protected Access (WPA) and WEP, why there is a need for a new standard and why you should use it.

WPA vs WEP: How your Choice Affects your Wireless Network Security

An exploration of the reasons why WPA provides stronger wireless security than WEP in your wireless network

Software - Your Risk or Mine?

How come the buyer has to accept all the risks when it comes to software? This document describes how it doesn’t have to be like this.

Managing a Network with a Protocol Analyzer

A Protocol Analyzer is today considered an essential part of the Network Manager’s toolkit. The traditional view is that analyzers are useful for troubleshooting networks while SNMP tools are better for trending and service management. This document asks if a Protocol Analyzer has a role to play in the day to day management of a network?

Calculating The Size of a Server Room Air Conditioner

A quick guide to show you how to work out your requirements for an air conditioning unit for your Server Room or Data Center.

Data Center Environmental Monitoring Recommendations

Stable environmental conditions are vital to reliable operation of your data center. This article explains the areas that you should be concerned about and provides best practice guidelines.

Are You Ready for IPv6?

A lot has happened in the world of IPv6. This article reviews the features of IPv6, examines the current state of IPv6 world-wide, the impact that it will have on businesses in Europe and most importantly, how its affects the key business decisions that you should be making now.

Open all Hours - Wardriving in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England

An exploration of the security levels of wireless networks in and around Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.

Why do People Write Open Source Software?

A common misconception of the hacker is that they are amateurs sitting at home night after night writing open source software for fun. Whilst I am sure that this is indeed true in some instances, I doubt that it is true for the majority. The open source software I have seen is too good to be done by people who aren’t very talented, experienced engineers.