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The Server Room

Meeting Your Server Room's Needs

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The Server Room

As important as your networking hardware is, equally important is how your server room is set up. Planning is an important part of setting up your server room. This is one thing that some administrators fail to do and this failure can cause headaches down the road. Here are some server room standards that should be observed.

Server Room Guidelines & Standards

Location: Site locations should be safe from exposure to fire, flooding, explosions and other hazards. They should also be in an area where any noise from the server room will not be distracting.

Perimeter Security: Server room walls should be solid and extend from the floor to the ceiling. If raised floors and drop ceilings are in use, these walls should extend below the raised floors and above the drop ceilings. This will contain the room in the event of fire or flood and will prevent intruders from climbing either above or below the ceiling or flooring area.

Physical Access: Only individuals who are authorized in the server room should have access. To prevent unauthorized access, security measures such as card readers and electronic locks should be in use. Traditional key locks are only recommended if the keys are properly marked as “Do Not Duplicate”.

Also recommended is the use of video surveillance and logs recording the time of entry and exit into the server room. All employees should have a photo identification badge that should be plainly visible always. If any guests are allowed into the server room, they should have an authorized visitor’s pass and be escorted by authorized personnel.

Structural Considerations: If you are constructing your server room, here are some things that need to be considered. If you are having to use an existing room, try to find one that fills as much of these suggestions as possible.

The Room Itself

  • Door frame size should be sufficient to allow for easy introduction and removal of equipment. If this is a new construction, doors should be 42 inches wide and 9 feet tall.
  • The ceiling of the room should be at least 9 feet high.
  • There should be no exterior windows.
  • The equipment should be arranged to provide for adequate clearance around computing racks. Four feet at the front and three feet at the rear is a recommended distance.
  • If this is a new construction, anti-static floor surfaces are recommended. Raised floors with a minimum clearance of 24 inches are recommended for new construction of large server rooms.

Power & UPS

  • Sufficient dedicated circuits should be in place for all equipment plus additional circuits, as needed, for flexibility in the event a circuit fails.
  • Proper grounding should be used.
  • Critical systems should be connected to uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) and/or generator power, depending on the business requirements for server uptime.
  • Uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) and/or generator power should be tested at least annually and maintained per manufacturer specifications.
  • Depending on UPS monitoring thresholds, automatic shutdown features should be configured when feasible to gracefully shutdown and protect systems prior to power loss.
  • Large rooms should have a clearly-labeled emergency power-off switch.
  • Procedures should be posted in the room explaining how to respond in the event of a power failure.
  • Server rooms should have emergency lighting to provide for life safety in the event of a power outage.

Temperture Control & Air Circulation

  • The server room must have sufficient temperature control to maintain temperatures within the operational limits defined for the hardware located in the room. This temperature usually is around 72 – 75° Fahrenheit, (22 – 23° Celsius.)
  • Environmental monitoring should be configured to alert administrators in the event of a cooling failure.
  • For large rooms, cooling systems and equipment should be installed in a hot aisle / cold aisle configuration to maximize efficiency.
  • Procedures should be posted in the room explaining how to respond in the event of a cooling failure.

Fire & Flood

  • Some form of fire detection and suppression, adequately maintained and routinely tested should be in use always.
  • Server rooms must be reasonably free of fire hazards.
  • Each server room may have an easily visible and accessible clean-agent fire extinguisher. A standard “ABC” fire extinguisher is not recommended for use around electronic equipment.
  • If the server room is located near potential leak hazards such as AC condensers, overhead water lines, sprinklers, kitchens, break rooms, restrooms, etc., steps should be taken to protect systems. Such steps include racks with solid tops, systems elevated off the floor, etc. Moisture sensors should be used in areas here leaks are most likely or would be most problematic.

Cable Management

  • Cabling should be maintained in an orderly fashion to reduce the possibility of an accidental outage due to a cable being accidently pulled from its connection.
  • Velcro® should be used to secure cabling. This process is less damaging that plastic cable ties and can easily be removed and replaced should a cable need replaced or a new cable be added.
  • It is recommended that cables be labeled properly to assure there is little confusion as to where the cable is routed to. This greatly assists in any troubleshooting that may have to be done on the network.