Server room configuration is key to optimizing the network’s function in day-to-day operation. If you give consideration to ergonomics, upgrades, and maintenance, you can significantly enhance your network’s usefulness. Answer a few questions at the start—you’ll thank yourself later.

What do you need?
For starters, you need to examine your needs. For example, how many clients are going to be served? How important is security to your client’s firm? And what about the safety of the data? Hard drives (how could we forget?) are not infallible. What about the cost of maintaining the server(s)?

The answers to these questions will determine what your customer is going to use, and how. But there’s still one critical question left that will dictate how you proceed. How much money is in the budget for this important move?

If the answer is “as much money as it takes,” then you should check out Exodus. This company has it all, from custom raised ventilation flooring to protection against breach of security. The company can help you protect hardware from fire, earthquakes—you name it. Even if your client doesn’t want to spend the funds for Exodus-level equipment, it’s a fun site to browse. And it may give you some ideas.

Figure out the basics
We know the room will house a PDC to start, maybe a print server, message server, proxy server, and router. Placement of the various units depends on what sort of cases you’ll be using. There are several options, from rack-mount cases enclosed in a cabinet structure to tried-and-true old tower cases.

One advantage of rack mounts is that they are safe from clumsy accidents that might cause them to tip over. Naturally, tipping results in damage to drives, lost data, and more headaches for you or whoever is supporting the equipment. Rack mounts are easy to work with when removing individual units for repair and upgrade. Some even include patch panels and/or a place for things like routers, a door for rear access, and more importantly, fans for ventilation. Many cabinets also feature locking doors to prevent tampering, as well as wheels, so rooms can be easily rearranged to suit a company’s changing needs.
Protect equipment and reduce down-time by setting up your server room the right way Change control could change your life
And how about that good old tower case? Although this option can leave equipment a little more spread out and less manageable, it costs less. If your client elects to go with a tower setup, choose a suitable place for the servers. Consider traffic flow—and I don’t mean data, but people. Don’t locate your computers where they can be knocked over. I’ve seen it happen at the end of the entire operation. Not pretty. So I mention it here…twice.

And remember to consider ventilation. As you know, it’s important to the performance of your servers and routers. Some companies spend thousands of dollars on raised flooring that pumps cool air into strategic places. You may not be looking at a setup as elaborate as that. However, you should still recommend to your customer that they not make the mistake of placing servers in a closet or unused room everyone refused to use as an office because it gets too hot.

Sometimes, one of the most helpful planning steps involves browsing a vendor’s equipment catalog or checking out such sources as MicroWarehouse or PC Zone . From such sources can you learn of the newest case, cabinet, router, and other hardware options available to you.

It’s really just common sense
Placement, ventilation, foot traffic, the equipment you choose, and the master of ceremonies—the budget—all must be considered when planning out a server room. But ultimately, it’s all just an exercise in common sense.
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