by Paul Rudo on 18/01/11 at 11:18 pm
Michael Figueroa is a Senior Parner at Infusion Points, an Enterprise Security consulting firm. He’s agreed to sit down with me and share his advice – based on his years of experience in the field – on how to plan an build your first server room.
Before you start thinking about taking the DIY approach to building your own server room, listen to this first-hand account from Michael’s own life:
I served as a CIO managing corporate IT resources.
In that role, I inherited a server room that held approximately 20 servers, a SAN, all telecommunications and networking equipment, and fixed storage assets of approximately 50 TB.
The server room had been poorly designed, suffered from frequent power outages and HVAC failures, and no longer had sufficient capacity to support the organizations IT needs after only three years.
I have since moved into a consulting role where I provide assistance to other companies in managing their IT assets.
In order to prevent readers from ending up with a similar problem, Michael has agreed to sit down with me and share some of his best advice for anyone thinking about building their first server room.
What are the signs that a company should look into building a dedicated room for their IT systems?
- Employees are starting to manage multiple shared systems that are taking up significant office space
- Office areas develop hot spots where systems are generating a significant amount of heat
- The company is handling sensitive information that it must restrict access to.
What should a company take into account when budgeting for their first server room?
- Server racks, patch panels, UPS devices, and cabling costs are typically under budgeted
- Cooling needs to be designed with backups in mind
What are some of the most common mistakes that companies make when planning and building their first server room?
Relying on equipment vendors to design the room. Companies should consider hiring server room designers or architects who specialize in building server rooms and do not have a stake in supplying them.
How important is temperature control when building a server room? What advice can you give on this topic?
Server rooms will generate significant amounts of heat very quickly. The best will push all of the cold air through the front of the racks and push the hot air through the back and up. Thermostats should be placed in cool zones and warm zones, with some level of monitoring to measure temperature averages in each zone. Should the cool zone temperature rise more than five degrees above an average (around 73 degrees), then a secondary cooling device should kick in to prevent system damage due to rapid change in cool temperature.
What is the ideal rack layout for a server room? How much space should there be around each rack? Is it better to lay out racks in clusters, in rows or in some other configuration?
I can’t really speak to this.
What should a company include in their server room construction in order to adapt to future growth?
Space and adequate cooling are key.
Its not ideal to completely fill a rack unless your cooling is perfect, so dont plan on needing to do so within the next five years.
Once a company builds the room and puts in the cooling, then it’s highly unlikely that either will ever change.
In your own words, how would you describe the ideal first server room?
The ideal first server room would be a large room, much larger than what the company would expect would be sufficient. Cooling would be concentrated in the center of the room so that all of the racks would face in. The ceiling would be well above the top of the racks to draw heat away from the floor, with vents to draw out the hot air quickly from around the room. Power would be well distributed with high-amp circuits available around the room, supporting both 110V and 220V power needs.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Restrict server room access to only directly involved staff who will accept responsibility for cleanliness.