IoT Technology Enables Remote IT Management

Published: July 27, 2023

The Boss Co. is deploying RF Code’s Sentry Cloud device at customer sites to gain sensor- and camera-based understanding of IT assets and their conditions

Alabama-based IT services firm The Boss Co. has begun offering Internet of Things (IoT) functionality to its customers with a solution leveraging RF Code‘s Sentry environmental and remote management edge-computing device. With the multi-sensor device, The Boss Co. can remotely view and manage the conditions and status of customers’ IT assets.

Thus far, the IoT-enabled solution has been deployed by three of The Boss Co.’s customers, offering a view into the conditions and status of IT technology at their sites. The collected data helps the IT services company manage equipment for its customers in real time from its command center.

Optimizing IT Services and Asset Spending

Many of The Boss Co.’s customers use its services and technology in offices, as well as at worksites and remote locations. The Boss Co. assesses a company’s IT systems and equipment, then helps it maximize the IT technology it can use, without adding to its existing costs, and also maximize how it use the data culled from that technology. The solution can include everything from IT services, devices and data security to audio visual equipment, voice-over-IP, carrier services, and copying and printing equipment.

The company provides customers with IT assets on a lease basis, sells equipment directly or via a third party, and offers remote support to monitor those devices in real time, according to Troy McCawley, The Boss Co.’s president. “We optimize the way our customers spend their money on technology,” he says, by providing equipment appropriate for each customer, then overseeing such assets’ use and operation, to help companies improve their return on investment. “They don’t have to worry about all the technology. They have one company that partnered with them to take care of everything.”

For the past two years, The Boss Co. has been offering its services to companies of all sizes, as well as to government agencies. As McCawley explains, “We say, ‘If you’ll let us look at the way you’re spending money on your current invoices, we’ll see if we can incorporate new technology at no cost to you.'” The goal, he says, is to keep customers spending the same amount of money for more services.

Recently, the company began examining ways to expand the visibility into equipment in use at some customer sites. It explored IT asset-management technologies and ultimately chose RF Code’s solution. “The Sentry product is one of the better options,” he says. RF Code offers automated, real-time lifecycle-management and environmental-monitoring solutions for physical assets. Many of its customers are data centers that leverage the Sentry devices and software-as-a-service for decentralized edge-computing locations, says Brett Arnott, RF Code’s VP of product engineering and strategy.

The Sentry sensor is an all-in-one device with a built-in camera and motion-detection software, designed to let users view and identify what is happening within the device’s vicinity. That, for instance, could include identifying if someone has entered a room that should be secure. The system can also help to identify if an object is brought into a particular area, and that data can be forwarded to authorized officials, who can then investigate.

Camera, Temperature and Humidity Tracking

The Sentry device has a built-in temperature and humidity sensor that measures the ambient temperature of a server closet or other room, and the device includes a thermal imager to detect conditions related to a specific piece of equipment. For example, if a server or a condenser begins to overheat, the Sentry sensor could detect that event before a failure can occur. The system also identifies the level of humidity in the room, which could impact the equipment’s functionality. Arnott calls humidity “the silent killer of IT equipment.”

The Sentry device forwards data to RF Code’s cloud-based portal, and that information is then made available to users and managers. In the case of The Boss Co., the data can be viewed at its command center, and it can be integrated with the IT company’s management software. In that way, Arnott states, “The Boss Co. team can monitor their customer sites remotely.” Most companies use the Sentry device with a wired connection, such as power-over-Ethernet, to forward data to the cloud solution, though the device is also Wi-Fi-enabled.

Customers can also use a mobile hotspot to connect data with the cloud wirelessly, without requiring the Wi-Fi network. “We’re working on integrating external sensors,” Arnott says, “and the first one we’re bringing to the market will be fluid and leak detection.” The device could be used to identify a potential flood or leak event, he adds, which could damage IT equipment. One of the primary challenges for companies using The Boss Co.’s services is security, McCawley says, adding, “They just want to know that everything is secured and safely being managed.”

The Boss Co.’s operators can view conditions remotely via the camera imagery from the Sentry device. They can often diagnose a problem from the command center, thus ensuring a potential problem is addressed more quickly, and at times preventing the need for maintenance personnel to visit a site.  The three deployments already in place are at a medical office, a trucking company and an insurance provider. “They no longer have to be worrying about their IT equipment,” McCawley states. “That’s all being done for them.”

During the next few years, The Boss Co. intends to provide more support with the Sentry solution. “At the end of the day,” McCawley says, “our goal is to take care of our customers better than anybody else can.” With the IoT system in place, he says, “That gives them the security that we not only manage their IT, but we have eyes and ears into conditions like temperature, to make sure that all is running well.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Three companies are currently using the Sentry device, which captures sensor data and shares it with the cloud-based server.
  • With the technology in place, The Boss Co. can better share security and maintenance alerts with its customers, even in remote areas.