AVTech RA11 Room Alert server room remote environmental monitor review - Temperature - Humidity - Power and Air Flow.

AVTech Room Alert RA11 Rack Mount Review
http://www.roomalert.com/Room-Alert-11-Computer-Room-Environment-Monitor-Alerts-1.htm
RA11
Pro:
Support via IM.
Price.
Build quality.

Cons:
Missing send alerts until cleared.
Missing temperature history.
Power outage ignored until time passes.
Airflow sensor sticks open when cold.
Misleading no PC required information on website.
Missing vertical rack mount.
Speaker and phone wire sensor cables.
Missing ssh tunnel support.
Poor software.
Poor telnet interface.
Do not remove label needs tape to stay on.
Small senor selection.
If you make a device rack mount make the power cable 64U long so it can mount anywhere in the rack.


Review:
I ordered two RA11 environmental monitors for two of my server rooms. Avtech is a great company to deal with and have a dedicated staff but the shortcomings of there product leave allot desired. They do offer support via IM, are reasonably priced and made of metal but that is where the goodness ends. It would appear they are a hardware vendor trying to compete on a software product.

There are some MAJOR problems with core functionality of the RA11. If you use the built in software it will only send you one alert, even if the condition continues. For example if the temp reaches 85 and sends a txt to you cell phone that is the only alert you get until the condition clears. I need the ability to send alerts every XX minutes or XX degrees of climb. Also there is no history on the web interface so you cannot see a trend. Another downfall is the web interface uses java for the admin section and it does not work over a SSH tunnel therefore to make a change to the unit I have to go on-site. There is a telnet interface but it does not allow you to make changes to the config or even see the current temps.

The sensor selection is small compared to its competitors and does not have video capabilities. The airflow senor I installed in our AC sticks open when it is cold and the external power sensor it not sensitive to brownouts or short outages. Also the fact they do not hook sensors via CAT5 that every server room already has cable management for is frustrating.

Small problems include there website lists features but do not make it clear what features work out of the box and what needs additional software such as automatic power downs. There is no vertical rack mount option so I have to give up a entire 1U for a temp sensor. The "do not remove" serial number label peals off on its own so you have to tape it, I think if you are going to use the words "do not remove" make the label so it cannot be removed. Finally I ordered two and they came in the same box so I had to sort out two of everything, may not sound like a big deal but there was a ton of paper advertising, software, sensors, cables, screws, getting started guides.

Overall I would keep looking unless all you need is a simple alert message that has server room temp, have a 3rd party product that does SNMP monitoring and alerting, or care to try there windows only "enterprise" software.

I will add a article on how to integrate your environmental monitor in to Zenoss soon.