The server room goes by many names. Some of the commonly used phrases include network room, data room, telecommunications room, and recently, the telecommunications spare. This is where all internal equipment and connectivity to the outside world happen. All cables connecting telephones, printers, servers, PCS, security, wireless, and safety equipment come together in this room. That said, a lot of preparation and planning is required to design a functional server room. A well-planned server room should provide:
1. Dedicated space for data and voice equipment
2. Enough space for completing moves, adds, changes, as well as troubleshooting
3. Temperature and space to support the efficient running of all equipment through its lifetime
4. Scalability and adaptation for future growth and other requirements
5. An extra layer of security for ‘mission-critical’ equipment
The location and size of the server room are depended on the number of floors, building size, and type of equipment to be installed in the server room, and equipment supported by the same. Floor space and function are some of the critical factors you need to consider when planning a server room. Other factors to consider when planning a server room include:
1. Cable Management and Termination
The layout in every equipment room should be designed in such a way that both current and future needs are met. Cable management is equally essential for larger installations and server rooms. Cable management should be done cleanly and efficiently for improved efficiency. They should also allow for the logical extension of the room plan and especially if changes, adds, or moves are to be made within the room. Experts recommend terminating all horizontal ethernet cables on patch panels for easier management.
2. Cabinets, Racks, and Enclosures
No-one wants their server room to look like a big mess and disorganised. A well-thought-out plan is however needed to ensure the equipment room remains neat and organised all through. For this reason, factors such as patch panels, quantity, and size of servers, air flow, switches, and supporting equipment need to be put into consideration when designing the floor plan. Other equipment/components such as power strips, monitors, keyboards, and UPS (uninterruptable power supply) should be considered when planning the server room. UPS batteries are highly important in a server room.
3. Lighting and Power Considerations
This is one of the critical things you need to have in mind when planning a server room. Server rooms require enough juice to power all equipment; one of the reasons the plan need to be well-thought-of. Some of the essential things to remember when planning the room include:
a. A dedicated power panel is needed for both the data and telecommunication rooms.
b. At least 2 dedicated AC duplex outlets with branch circuitry is recommended. Be sure to check the amperage and voltage of these outlets (based on the manufacturer requirements) before proceeding with the installations.
c. The quadruplex and duplex outlets should be 6 inches apart.
d. Never use a wall switch to control power outlets in the data room. Using any power switches in the data room is a risk you wouldn’t want to take.
Backup power is recommended for all telecommunication spaces. In the event of power failure, the UPS should be capable of supporting all the critical equipment and servers to allow time to resolve the power issue. The best way to ensure all equipment remains powered is by determining how much power all the equipment in the network room is needed. This way, you’ll invest in a capable UPS to power all these at one go.
4. Temperature Control
The equipment in data rooms emits lots of heat that can quickly get out of control if the right temperature control measures aren’t implemented. Temperature and humidity are two of the key factors to consider when designing a server room. If you have an issue with overheating network equipment, a simple reset can help solve the problem. If this doesn’t help, the equipment might become too hot, risking a fire.
Always check all equipment to ensure they are kept within the manufacturer’s temperature and humidity limits. It would also be a wise idea to invest in cooling fans and other measures to ensure the free flow of air.
Most network administrators are keen to protect their servers and digital asses from external threats such as viruses and malware. Many however forget the physical factor whereby someone can walk in the data room and make away with valuable and sensitive data. For this reason, you need to ensure the network room is under lock and key at all times, and only authorised personnel allowed into the room. This is the bare minimum for any data room.