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A Near Meltdown

Photo Courtesy of the Cleveland Indians

It was the culmination of a year of frustration. John Dolinga, Telecommunications and Network Systems Analyst for the Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball team, had selected an environmental monitoring system for his facility.

“We had been working with their support for over a year to configure alerting properly,” says Dolinga. “Eventually we were caught off guard when our Data Center cooling controller failed in the middle of the night. We didn’t know there was a problem until it was almost too late.”

Dolinga received a call in the middle of the night – his data center fire alarm had activated due to a dangerously high temperature in the room. And the alert? It came not from his automated monitoring system, but from his on-site security guard.

“Our Data Center fire suppression system has six smoke/heat detectors,” points out Dolinga. “If one detector is compromised then the audible alarm will activate. If a second detector is compromised then fire suppression would be released.” The results would be catastrophic.

It was all hands on deck. “I called my manager, Whitney Kuszmaul, to remotely connect, view the cameras, and check sensors while I drove in.”

When he arrived onsite, Dolinga discovered the temperature in the room was climbing over 122 degrees and none of the air conditioning units had kicked on. Though he managed to get the AC units turned on manually before any permanent damage was done, it was strike three for the failed system.

After all, the Cleveland Indians should be worried about rounding diamonds and chasing pennants. Not about data center cooling failures and complicated facility monitoring systems.

Finding The Right System

The very next day, Dolinga started to look for a better solution. He knew exactly what he was looking for: “A product that actually worked, something I could set and forget. A product that has support available whenever I called.”

With the help of their preferred vendor, E Technologies, Inc., they considered their options carefully and decided upon RLE Technologies’ Falcon FMS.

He was immediately glad that he had. The Falcon system was simple, reliable, and backed up by the very best support.

Simple and Effective

Where the previous system was still incorrectly configured after a year of tinkering, Dolinga had the Falcon up and monitoring the facilities in both of the Indians’ data centers without issues within two weeks. Reports Dolinga, “The product worked out of the box and has the best support of all products tested.”

The built-in modem with its various capabilities has proved a draw as well. “Dial out via modem is the most important feature for me,” Dolinga said, still wary thanks to the near disaster with the prior system. “Some of the other devices could provide alerting by modem but it was required to have a separate device with a modem. We liked that the modem was built into the FMS. Email alerts are great, but when out of the office, alerts via modem are essential.”

The Human Experience

The other attractive feature was the responsive support offered by RLE Technologies’ own Ted Fletcher.

“Any questions I had were immediately answered by Ted Fletcher,” Dolinga remembers. “He is one of the main reasons we purchased this product.”

The hands-on approach to service is something that RLE Technologies prides itself on. Just as it was, in the end, a human operator that saved the Indians’ data center from melting into a puddle of plastic and twisted metal, so even the best automated systems are made better by the right human back-up.

Into Extra Innings

Two years later, Dolinga is still happy with his choice. When asked to sum up his experience with the Falcon FMS, he said simply this: “Set it and forget it. Works great.”
That sense of security is the aim with any facility monitoring system. After all, why spend time and brain cells worrying about water leaks and overheating, when you could be focusing on life’s true essentials?

Like hot dogs and ERAs and who’s on first.

**We’d like to thank the Cleveland Indians for generously providing us with a photo of their stadium for use in this article.

The Box Scores

Here’s a rundown of the RLE gear the Indians use in their two locations.

Cleveland, Ohio Location

Goodyear, Arizona Location

A Story to Tell

Have you narrowly averted disaster in your data center? How did you catch it in time? What was your solution? Share your story with us.

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