The server room for your home or business is arguably the most crucial room to take care of. Server rooms may get the occasional facelift from new products replacing old ones, but what you need in your server room will generally remain a part of one of the eleven categories below.
The goal of a server room is to create an environment where your servers, and ultimately your data, are protected and stored safely. Companies have laws to comply with in many data storage and protection scenarios, but small data rooms can have less consistency. If you are getting started, consider this a list of essentials.
The 11 Must-Haves for Any Server Room
Aside from the obvious answer of servers, routers, switches, and cabling, there are some must-haves for your server room, especially if you want to support it yourself. The specific products you choose should suit your particular business’s needs.
1. Physical Security and Controlled Access
One of the purposes of a server room is to lock down access to your servers and their contents. There will always be a need to have a locked door with controlled access to your server room.
Having your server room share space with an administrative office is not advised. In addition to being a risk for data access, humans and their contaminants may pose equipment problems. Keeping your server room physically secure is essential and sometimes legally required.
Note: If you are concerned about access during an emergency, create a procedure for emergency access during off-hours or when key holders aren’t present and train anyone who uses that building.
2. Environmental Monitoring and Controls
Environmental monitoring is a must to keep your equipment safe from damage or destruction. Natural hazards can ruin equipment, which can be costly, so keeping your server room monitored can notify or prevent an environmental issue from causing a problem. Monitoring may include:
- Temperature monitoring and A/C dedicated to that room only (so no one changes temperatures)
- Humidity monitors
- Moisture detectors for water leaks, burst pipes, and flooding
- Oxygen depletion alarm or low oxygen safety monitor
- Cameras to confirm the room situation remotely before entering
3. Airflow and Ventilation
Server room cooling requires proper ventilation and airflow to prevent your equipment from overheating and keep it performing as expected. A server room temperature that are too high can cause equipment to fail due to something as simple as an epoxy melting in heat above its rated limit, so keeping air moving can keep your equipment functional.
What is the proper server room temperature?
Plan to keep the room between 59 degrees F and 89.6 degrees F, with the lower end of the range recommended. Humidity should also be kept to a minimum.
Airflow planning can also keep dust and debris away from your equipment and oxygen in an enclosed space where someone may be working.
4. Technology Safe Fire Suppression Systems
Traditional sprinkler systems and water fire suppression can destroy your servers and electronic equipment. Having fire extinguishers rated for electronics may save your data.
Smoke detectors and fire alarm systems are essential in protecting your server room, but making sure they are reliable is critical or false positives could create extra work.
5. Cable Management System
Cable management systems don’t have to be complicated, just organized. Labeling cables on both ends with a label maker can save you time and money when work is needed and help bring a messy server room in hand.
Cable management products like ladder racks exist to help control cables in server rooms that don’t house a false or raised floor, but even server rooms with false floors should manage their lines. We’ll talk more about the flooring options later.
7. Equipment Storage and Server Racks
Whether using a technology or utility rack from the garage, the frame should be bolted to the floor or secured in place to prevent it from tipping. Besides the fact that falling furniture can cause injury and death, any server room, especially a small server room, will benefit from maximizing space.
If you need to bolt to the floor, remove any carpet under and around the server rack to prevent fire and ensure a secure mount. Anti-furniture tip devices should be secured to solid structures and not drywall alone; they will not hold the weight.
8. Appropriate Flooring
The server room flooring shouldn’t contain carpet to reduce the fire risk and maintain an environment suitable for servers. The only exception should be anti-static mats and rugs, as flooring that encourages static buildup should not be in your server room.
Professional data centers often contain false floors with space underneath the server racks to run cables and create additional airflow. False floors suitable for server racks can be a costly upgrade, depending on the size of your room, but are an overall excellent way to increase circulation and hide the wiring.
9. Redundant Power Sources and Power Backups
Power grids are subject to surges, brownouts, and outages, and it is up to the home or business to plan for those moments. An Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) can ensure continuous delivery of electrical power from one of two power sources.
An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) provides servers enough time to save data and shut down safely to avoid corruption and lost work. If your facility also has a generator, a UPS may also operate until the generator kicks on.
Even if your power stays up, the odds are high that your telecommunications provider and their access points will have lost electricity, so plan to immediately backup data with power loss.
10. Demarcation or DMARC Point
A demarcation or DMARC point is where the telco’s responsibility ends. Having the business’s responsibility point defined will help quickly troubleshoot and resolve issues or upgrades.
11. Emergency Preparedness and Data Backup Plans
There is no telling when an emergency might happen, and having response and recovery plans for your home or business is what will get you back on your feet when something does happen. Part of this process is training the people involved and ensuring they can follow the producer during a stressful situation.
Know When To Seek Out a Professional
Data management and server room maintenance can be complex for any business to tackle. There is no shame in recognizing when your needs go beyond your facility’s capabilities to ensure no data loss and business continuity is high.
If your business needs constant access and uptime in the five nines (99.999%), seeking a professional for server room support or managed services like cloud computing can save you time and money by utilizing their expertise. Organizations can prevent data and time loss with the help of companies like Globalquest; contact us for more information.