Technology Partnership Offers Data Center Intelligence with RFID

Published: September 22, 2023

Hyperview and RF Code are providing a wireless sensor solution that identifies where IT assets are, their maintenance and status, as well as surrounding environmental conditions.

Datacenter management technology company Hyperview has partnered with RF Code to build a data center-focused asset management solution. The offering is aimed at bringing visibility to the sites where IT assets must be monitored, maintained, and protected against theft.

The solution leverages Hyperview’s data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software platform to manage the identification, location, and conditions of assets in data centers of all sizes. It comes with active RFID technology from RF Code, including the company’s CenterScape software and cloud-based asset management portal. Hyperview customers have begun using the partner-driven solution to replace what has traditionally been manually based, asset location information.

Data centers of all sizes face unique challenges. They must manage high value assets – often in remote locations – whose operation is often critical. A lack of visibility can cause major issues; for example, high heat indicating a potential failure can easily go undetected and lead to inflated costs.

Some companies use wired temperature or humidity sensors and undertake labor-intensive audits in which barcodes or printed labels on servers and other IT equipment must be physically scanned or read.

Hyperview, based in Vancouver, BC, provides a digital asset discovery and management solution to help data center owners understand where (and how) their IT assets are located. The company designs solutions for data center environments, including asset lifecycle management – from receiving to decommissioning an asset – as well as asset audits, says Rami Jebara, Hyperview’s CTO.

The solutions Hyperview offers are also designed to capture information based on asset moves, thereby preventing losses or thefts. Throughout the company’s history, Hyperview has used a variety of technologies to collect data, including magnetically attached, tethered sensors.

While wired sensors can provide data on conditions and locations of assets, wireless sensors offer greater flexibility in automating sensor data, especially in multi-tenant and colocation environments, says Jebara.

During this time, Hyperview has been monitoring wireless sensor technology that RF Code provides. The Austin-based company leverages active, battery-powered RFID sensors to provide automated, real-time lifecycle-management, as well as environmental-monitoring solutions for physical assets. In fact, Hyperview’s collaboration with RF Code for some customers has led to successful deployments across several generations of Hyperview’s products, according to Jebara.

RF Code’s wireless active RFID sensors, using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), are designed to track and report asset locations within a facility. They can be used to track and monitor robots as well as other research and development assets, and the technology is designed to transmit in metal-rich environments. The wireless sensors can be used not only within a data center but across other locations in which an asset may be stored or transported, he adds.

How it Works

With the solution, RF Code’s active RFID sensors are typically attached to critical assets, such as servers, or to appliances for storage, network, and enterprise IT. Each sensor comes with a unique ID that is linked to data describing the asset in the CenterScape software.

David Haut, RF Code’s Marketing VP

For tracking environmental conditions, the companies provide RF Code’s condition monitoring sensors typically attached to racks within the data center. Because of the wireless nature of the sensors, they can also be located anywhere else in which the assets need to be monitored, in and outside the data center environment, says David Haut, RF Code’s Marketing VP.  By attaching sensors to racks throughout the facility, the condition data can be more granular than standard wired sensors.

The current solution has been implemented at customer sites primarily for asset tracking and management purposes. The system captures movement of assets between different locations and enables automated audit operations. The system can track where every tagged asset is located, whether on or off the system, as the RF Code system captures and feeds historical asset chain of custody data to the DCIM. This allows users to understand who moved an item, when it was moved, and the location to where it was moved.

One unnamed customer, for example, uses the solution to track the relocation of high-value equipment across various global sites, says Jebara.

Asset sensors transmit their ID at intermittent intervals or when “awaken” by a device, such as an IR emitter. This extends the sensor’s battery life (batteries typically lasts five years) and specific events, such as a server being removed from a specific location, can be detected when an IR device at a doorway prompts the server sensor to transmit.

Hyperview identifies and monitors the devices with the help of a product integration with CenterScape data. The connection between CenterScape and Hyperview occurs through an application programming interface (API) connection. The automated one-way sync of this data to Hyperview software ensures the DCIM always contains data matching the physical location of IT assets.

For data center management, the system provides several benefits, the companies say. RF Code’s asset tracking and environmental monitoring solutions improve third-party DCIM performance and value, says David Haut, RFCode’s Marketing VP. Data flows bi-directionally between RF Code’s CenterScape and Hyperview. CenterScape provides location and environmental conditions around critical assets in real-time with 99.9 percent accuracy, he says.  And the active RFID-based asset tags can collect location data continuously in real time, regardless of whether assets are on the network or off.

RF Code’s RFID readers are designed to be compact and easy-to-mount, Haut says. They can process data generated by thousands of asset tags at long range.

RF Code offers a variety of wire-free active RFID sensors for data centers, colocation facilities, small IT rooms, and non-data center asset tracking. For data center clients, deployments range from 500 to 15,000 asset tags per location. The sensor tags and reader networks can cover a range of 15,000 to 200,000-plus square feet.

Environmental Monitoring

Initially, says Jebara, “The driving force behind this inclusion has been the demand and needs of our customers, primarily for wireless asset tracking.” However, Hyperview customers have begun seeking comprehensive integrations that include environmental monitoring.

One case of environmental monitoring consists of tracking temperature and humidity conditions. A Hyperview customer, which has asked to be unnamed, was offering its own management solution to data centers at the rack level. That’s where RF Code wireless environmental sensors and Hyperview come into play, Jebara says. By combining the asset management and conditions-based solutions, the customer could gain complete visibility and a historical record of all environmental data. This not only helps them meet their contractual commitments but also allows them to provide transparency to their clients, says Jebara.

RF Code differentiates itself in the wireless management technology market by offering both the hardware and software for a full asset and conditions monitoring solution. Most providers offer one or the other, and many use bar codes and other types of passive RFID technology which are not optimal for automation and accuracy, says Haut. “Our intelligent hardware uses active RFID, and our wire-free and active sensor tags transmit an asset’s precise location in real-time.” This happens automatically every 10 to 30 seconds, regardless of whether the asset is on or off the network. “We distinguish our solution as automated and real-time critical asset lifecycle management,” Haut says.

Going forward, Hyperview and RF Code plan to enhance the integration, including sensor data with asset tracking. “We are currently engaging in discussions with customers to explore how RFID asset tracking can improve workflows related to significant asset life cycle events, such as lease expiry and decommissioning,” says Sidha. Cybersecurity is also a top priority, “and we are actively considering the implementation of a verifiable asset register with special alarm events for critical assets.”

The company is also exploring the potential of RFID tracking for high-value components, such as hard drives. “While the drives themselves may not hold as much value as the data they contain, RFID technology can provide a means to track these components even when they are offline,” says Jebara.

In addition, Hyperview’s active “discovery and monitoring” capabilities can automatically detect if a device has been deployed to a machine, while door scanners can identify if a device has been erroneously removed from a location.

“By leveraging technologies like active RFID-based asset tracking and sustainability, we aim to help IT leaders in and outside of the data center eliminate costs and risks by providing real-time granular visibility into high-value physical assets for optimal operational efficiency,” Haut says.

Key Takeaways:

  • Partnership enables Hyperview to offer an asset and environmental management system, leveraging RF Code’s active RFID technology to track servers, appliances, and the conditions they are exposed to.
  • The solution initially was deployed to track individual assets but is increasingly being leveraged to track temperature and humidity in the racks throughout data centers.