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Recently the air conditioning in our server room broke down. To escape the heat death all of our 30 servers increased their ventilation. It resulted to a blown fuse which enforced a shutdown of some servers after the UPS run out of power. We considered purchasing a temperature alerting system before, but the solutions we found were too expensive. We have three air conditionings, so I thought, the probability that they all break down at the same time is relatively low. Okay, I am a bit wiser now.
We found a very cheap solution for our problem: PCMeasure from better networks. We paid about 100 Euro for software and hardware. Although we only need it to measure the temperature in our server room, it also supports several other sensors for measuring humidity, voltage, contact, water, smoke, and motion.
You can run the software on Windows and Linux. The sensors can be connected to serial or parallel ports by using adapters. PCMeasure also enables you to centrally manage multiple measurement systems. If you don't want to use a PC for every measurement point, you can use the Ethernetbox, a device that transmits the measured data to PCMeasure.
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PCMeasure has a graphical and a web interface. The latter is quite useful, if you want to check the temperature or other physical values along the way. Now, if I realize that a server doesn't respond, the first thing I check is the temperature in our server room, since I don't trust our air conditioning anymore