RackTrack - Rack Asset Tracking



  • Disclaimer: I'm a hardware noob.

    I would like to create a cheap and truly open alternative for fully automated DataCenter/HubRoom/Rack assets tracking!

    Commercial products exist already:
    https://www.rittal.com/com-en/product/list.action;jsessionid=1C322FA65400037D5B8FF61454263D72?c=/IT Infrastructure/Monitoring/CMC III – Monitoring system/Dynamic Rack Control&categoryPath=/PG0001/PG0800ITINFRA1/PG1538ITINFRA1/PGR9560ITINFRA1/PG1574ITINFRA1

    http://www.raritan.com/products/accessories/intelligent-asset-tags-and-sensors

    http://www.digitalor.com/assets-tracking.html

    These solutions all provide good capacity planning capabilities, but unfortunately they are all very expensive and ROI is in most cases so long that companies are not willing to purchase these solutions, and therefore continue managing their assets tediously with all the obvious frustrations and errors that causes.

    Key technologies: POE, DHCP, HTTP, RFID:
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    POE: simple solution to provide both connectivity and the needed power for RackTrack to operate
    DHCP: provides hands-free installation (no additional interface needed to setup fixed IP configuration) and central management (IT Admins can create a secure subnet for RackTrack and setup DHCP reservations so specific RackTrack MAC-addresses always receives the same fixed IP).
    HTTP: easy/lightweight RackTrack status transmission to hostname=racktrack every 5 min (IT Admins can create DNS CNAME alias, so data flows to the intended host)
    RFID: cheap, low-power, low-interfering RFID solution (MCRF?) that will quickly and precisely identify when equipment is inserted and removed and send this via HTTP to hostname=racktrack (within 1 second).
    RackTrack will use 6U "main-unit" (POE/DHCP/HTTP/Temperature/Humidity/RFID sensors) and connect with 4U+6U RFID "sensor-units" thereby supporting all even-U sized racks ranging from 6-54U (only 8U not supported). RackTrack will be placed right next to the rack mounting holes. Small RFID tag-holders will be screwed into the same mounting holes as the equipment and hereby connect to the specific RFID sensor. RJ45 interface on main-unit will be located in the top facing out (taking up the space of the top 2 sesors than are redundant), allowing RackTrack to be placed in either side of the rack.
    RackTrack will easily identify equipment down to each 1/3U (main-unit: 6U=16 sensors ; sensor-units: 4U=12 sensors, 6U=18 sensors) - making it truly authentic, as each U has 3 mounting holes.
    RackTrack will have led lights for easy troubleshooting (no RFID UID detected=led off;RFID UID detected=green led; RFID selftest failed=red led).
    RackTrack can be used on both front and back on racks to track ½ depth equipment such as top-of-rack switches, etc.
    RackTrack will have clear U-number (01-54) and sub-U-character (A,B,C) markings, as it will be installed where these are on most racks.
    RackTrack could (v2 ?) support E-ink displays - receiving image URL from racktrack host (RFID UID not linked to host=RFID UID detected, but no image url=yellow led). This would eliminate the work putting hostname-labels on the equipment and changing these when hostname changes:
    http://www.pervasivedisplays.com/products/200

    Instead of creating a new software solution, the intention is that RackTrack can easily be integrated into good/existing/OpenSource tools like:
    https://www.librenms.org
    http://racktables.org
    https://sourceforge.net/projects/rackmonkey
    http://www.opendcim.org

    Existing tools could:

    • receive status from each RackTrack using HTTP
    • identify each rack from RackTrack MAC
    • automatically detect rack height from RackTrack sensor-count(+2) (maximum of 1 main-unit and 8 sensor-units supported)
    • receive temperature and humidity from each RackTrack
    • locate each equipments (bottom) position inside the rack from RackTrack RFID UID
    • link RackTrack RFID UID with equipment serial/MAC/other to figure out the hardware model/U-height/front-image/back-image.

    I would like this to be a learning experience while creating something very useful all IT organizations could use.
    So I would like to fund/purchase/build this through the different iterations needed.
    But... I really need help designing it...
    Anyone that would like to help with that :blush: ?
    Links to sites where I could find design help would also be much appreciated :wink:

    Thanks in advance :) !


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