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September 04, 2018

How to Maintain a Safe, Clean, and Efficient Server Room

What’s the Secret to an Efficient and Cost-Effective Server Room?

A server room isn’t something the average business owner thinks much about until they’re confronted with the need to make a change. It’s at this point that it suddenly becomes a key focus. Knowing how to keep a server room safe, clean, and efficient is paramount to your success. Do you know what you’re doing?

Why the Server Room Matters

The physical server room may seem like a simple piece of infrastructure, but it’s an invaluable resource that your business depends on in a multitude of ways. It’s the heart of your organization, pumping blood to the other key organs and limbs that your business needs to function properly.

As IT pro Johny Krahbichler explains, “Modern businesses need a robust and scalable IT infrastructure that is capable of supporting ever evolving tech and broadband advances, meeting stringent compliance requirements and regulations, and taking advantage of big data analytics and other software opportunities.”

While many companies decide to outsource their servers to another company, or lease an off-site server room, there’s something valuable about having an on-site server room.

“You will have complete control over every aspect of your IT systems and can modify and scale it to meet your own needs and requirements,” Krahbichler points out. “This versatile customization is vital in today’s fast paced tech landscape as you will be able to support diverse applications and a growing mass of big data without worrying about capacity on cloud based solutions.”

But in order for your server room to enjoy peak performance, you have to be willing to spend time optimizing it. While this takes time, the return on investment is higher than you could ever imagine.

6 Tips for a Safe, Clean, And Efficient Server Room

The secret to a cost-effective server room that helps you grow your business and maximize its full potential is to pay attention to the details. This means keeping a safe, clean, and efficient environment.

Not sure where to start? We have a few tips and suggestions for you:

1. Be Strategic With Location

The very first aspect to consider is location. Regardless of how big your server room is, you can’t just throw it in the most convenient place. There are a multitude of factors to consider, including:

  • If at all possible, you should avoid placing your server room in a location where there are exterior walls or windows. Not only is this a security threat, but it also makes your equipment more susceptible to extreme temperatures and/or natural disasters.
  • While not as important as safety or security, convenience does matter. Considering that IT staff will be coming and going on a regular basis, it’s nice if the room is located in an area that’s easy to access without disturbing others.

There may be other specific circumstances that come into play, so be sure to do your due diligence and think about as many of the details as possible.

2. Think About Size

“Failing to factor expansion into your initial design is likely to cause problems down the road,” IT pro David Windsor says. “Although projecting growth can be speculative, enterprise architects recommend planning five years out with a growth rate of 20 percent per year.”

In other words, average growth means your space requirements will double within five years. Unless you want to regularly move server rooms or invest in extensive upgrades, it’s smart to think about size and scalability from the start. Leaving ample room for growth will prove to be highly beneficial.

3. Carefully Monitor Temperature

As any cigar smoker knows, temperature and humidity have a significant impact on the quality of a cigar over time. That’s why humidors are typically used to maintain a consistent temperature of 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of 70-72 percent.

Just like cigars, servers need to be kept in a controlled environment in order to retain quality and function properly. It’s generally suggested to maintain a server room temperature between 64.4 and 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit, with a relative humidity of 45-50 percent. If your ambient air temperature is regularly in the mid-80’s or higher, you’ll need to take action to avoid shortening the lifespan of your equipment.

4. Use the Right Equipment

When your business is small and just starting out, you can get away with stacking hardware on random desks and shelves. As you grow and have more specific needs, exposed equipment becomes highly problematic. Make sure you’re using the right equipment for the job.

“Invest in rack-mounted equipment designed to house server hardware,” IT security insider Alex Bennett suggests. “Shelves and drawers designed for mounting onto the server rack are also available.”

5. Be Systematic With Cord Organization

Does your server room look like someone turned a bowl of spaghetti upside down? With hundreds of cords leading from various machines and outlets to other equipment, it’s easy for cables to get tangled, intertwined, and lost. The more systematic you are with cord organization, the better off you’ll be.

While there are many different cable management strategies, the best thing you can do is keep cords short, label them on both ends, and use color-coded cable runs to help differentiate.

6. Keep it Spotless

A clean server room speaks volumes of your business. It also encourages maximum performance and efficiency. Instead of waiting for one big spring cleaning every year, stay on top of the mess and give your server room a weekly once-over.

Dust is the biggest issue. Any dust that accumulates on the surface of the equipment will eventually find its way inside. This can cause major performance issues over time. Not only should you wipe down equipment, but you can also use pressured air to clean out the inside of your hardware.

Putting it All Together

It’s easy to get so caught up in the technical components of running an IT department that you forget about practical details. When it comes to your server room, make sure you’re prioritizing location, size, temperature, equipment selection, organization, and cleanliness. In doing so, you’ll reap benefits of an efficient and cost-effective IT infrastructure that propels your business forward.

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