How to Set Up a Server Room

The growing demand for a dedicated server room is dictated primarily by the widespread transition to a hybrid of office and remote work. Although some applications can be hosted in the cloud, any organization should still have local services that employees can access only through office servers.

Server room is a dedicated server room for hosting servers and auxiliary IT infrastructure of the office.

The design of such a space must take into account a number of factors:

  • network load and the number of network connections,
  • power requirements,
  • room temperature control and ventilation,
  • physical security,
  • fire and emergency protection.

Server rooms are significantly different from the other two data and workload hosting options – data centers and micro data centers.

Data centers can be thought of as a building consisting of a large number of dedicated server rooms. However, in practice, data centers differ from regular server rooms in terms of network bandwidth. If the server room needs the low network load required for a single organization, the data center can support multiple organizations with thousands or millions of connected users at the same time. For this reason, they require the appropriate equipment.

Micro data centers are closer to the concept of regular server rooms. However, they are used as dedicated portable units that can be easily used to scale a business. Due to their rapid deployment capability, micro data centers are suitable for:

  • scaling computing power in remote areas,
  • keeping server equipment running smoothly during natural disasters,
  • they are also able to provide temporary power when workloads move between data centers.qualities of a good server room

Server room organization

During the design phase of a server room, special attention should be paid to the following points:

  • location and size of the room,
  • equipment,
  • fire protection and cooling.

At this stage, it is important to assess the scale of the future IT infrastructure and, depending on the estimated technical needs, design what the server room should be like and how the allocated space can be used as efficiently as possible.

Leaving too much of the space idle, even considering possible scaling, can incur unnecessary costs, while overuse of space can increase risks that can lead to huge costs or even incidents.

  • The technical equipment of the room includes the installation of soundproof walls, special doors for access to equipment, antistatic floors to prevent electrostatic discharges, and equipment to ensure temperature control.
  • Preparation of equipment includes calculation of the required power density, measured in watts per square meter or kilowatts per rack, as well as the search and installation of equipment – anti-seismic supports and fasteners, electrical grounding for server racks, clearance for rooms necessary to ensure equipment mobility.
  • Fire-fighting measures include the use of non-liquid fire-fighting systems and appropriate routing of server room equipment, especially if cables run through ceilings or floors.
  • The cooling system includes the installation of overhead ducts that deliver cool air to the hottest spots.

Server room maintenance

Server rooms should not only be properly equipped but also properly maintained. There are a number of standard operating procedures for this, including the installation of new equipment and the disposal of defective or obsolete equipment. Here are just some of the best practices to consider and adopt when maintaining a server room:

Server installation. Installation must be carried out with redundant power supplies, certified cables, weight distribution by placing heavier configurations on lower shelves, reducing cable lengths that do not exceed the allowable bend radius.

Network diagram design. Switches and other network equipment should be located logically to minimize cable lengths, and critical systems that require redundancy should have additional switches and routers connected to redundant power supplies.

Removing a server.  All cables and server hardware must be removed and properly labeled prior to disposal, and the asset database must be updated to reflect server removal.

Emergency response. Define and put in place an emergency policy. You should also develop emergency response procedures. In case of such situations, rules should be provided with emergency kits and fire extinguishers on site.

Policy Development. You should review, develop, and update documents describing all policies and procedures annually.

Management of tools and equipment. You must maintain inventory records. Establish procedures to account for equipment and tools and their maintenance.

Server hardware placement

There are many design options for a server room. As user demand for computing power increases and technology advances, along with this growth, new vendors and technology offerings will continue to enter the market, spanning general and specialized server room solutions.

Racks, cabinets, and enclosures

In a computer or server room, IT servers and network devices are typically housed in a 19-inch server rack or server cabinet. The standard range of server racks includes racks with a:

  • width of 600 and 800 mm,
  • depth of 600, 800, or 1000 mm,
  • height from 2U to 47U.

A typical server room rack is 600mm wide and 800mm deep. The “U” dimension refers to the height, where 1U = 44.45 mm. All rack-mounted IT devices, including UPS systems, are U-height, Their addition gives the overall height of the required cabinet.

Server racks, cabinets, and enclosures provide the structure to secure your servers in a server room. As a rule, they can accommodate uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and other equipment. Choosing the best server racks comes down to determining the:

  • size,
  • type,
  • cooling strategy,
  • power distribution,
  • security needed for your organization’s space.

Server rack sizes are mostly standardized and are measured in rack units (RU or U), which means how many servers it can hold. Several types are available from simple to rugged, including small racks, portable racks, standard size data center racks, and fully enclosed waterproof and dustproof cabinets.server rack

Power: Redundancy and Distribution

The power system parameters are for protecting critical systems from power surges while maintaining continuous server operation. They cover emergency backup power, power distribution, and power monitoring systems. General server room requirements include:

  • Rack Power Distribution Units. These units have multiple power outlets to distribute power to multiple devices and come in form factors to fit almost any server rack. Distribution units usually include surge protection, and more advanced models offer power metering and remote power control.
  • Uninterruptible Power Supply. A UPS, known as a backup power system, provides a buffer between the main power and the server devices. In the event of a power outage, these units provide power until the main power supply or an alternative source is comes back on.
  • Energy monitoring software.  In organizations where downtime is a major concern, the use of smart rPDUs, sensors, and data center monitoring software is essential to streamline operations and ensure business continuity.

Temperature control

For small server rooms, cooling with a building comfort cooling system may be sufficient, but larger or denser rooms may require more precise thermal management with cooling solutions specifically for mission-critical IT equipment.

In the case of high-performance computing applications, liquid cooling systems may be the most suitable solution.

Fire extinguishing systems

A small server room may not require its own fire suppression system. Insurers can usually make recommendations depending on the size of the premises and the power used.

For fire fighting, you must have an automatic or manual fire extinguisher in the room.

An automated system using PAFSS (Pneumatically Actuated Fire Suppression Systems) technology is a cost-effective solution for one or more server racks. It consists of a pressurized agent in a canister located next to the racks and a distribution hose inside the cabinet. The hose will melt at the highest heating temperature to release the extinguishing agent into the cabinet.

Monitoring systems

You should also consider monitoring. Temperature and humidity in a server room are usually environmental factors that you can control

You must install a basic monitoring unit with appropriate sensors in the room. If they receive readings outside a pre-set threshold, you can configure the environment monitoring system to send alerts to a set email and SMS distribution list.

Other environmental factors that you can control include water leakage, smoke, and fire, as well as room security and server cabinet intrusion.

You can also install and connect motion detection cameras to a suitable environmental monitoring system to provide video footage from security cameras after and before the event, as well as two-way communication in the server room.

Access control

Server room security and access control are critical tasks for most organizations. But in addition to locking the door of a server room or cabinet, there are many mechanisms that help organizations protect their IT assets as well as increase productivity.

For example, KVM over IP switches increase security by minimizing the need for local access. This allows administrators to manage equipment remotely.

Summary

It is relatively easy to create a dedicated space to host IT servers and network devices. Design and construction practices meet the requirements of large server rooms and data centers that scale to meet design and budget requirements. A preliminary site analysis is essential to identify issues to address during installation that may affect the overall cost and success of the project.

Typical issues include:

  • the load on the electrical circuit,
  • the suitability of walls and partitions,
  • cabling,
  • cooling
  • piping,
  • where to place the heat exchanger,
  • how to maintain the server room.

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