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Suggestions on MAJOR Server Room Renovation

By bonowski ·
I have a project of major server room renovation (the server room looks a lot like the before pics in "Watch a server room cabling nightmare become an organized dream")

Cables are disorganized, servers are all over the place...there is limited space...just imagine the worst.

So its time to overhaul the current room. We're not moving it, just "updating it".

Does anyone have any suggestions at all on conducting major renovation to a server room?


Thanks in advance.

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Adequate Air Flow

by NotSoChiGuy In reply to Suggestions on MAJOR Serv ...

The biggest suggestion I could give in lieu of the typical suggestion would be to ensure that the room has adequate air flow/cooling, now and for any future needs.

Before I arrived here, the company put in a lot of $$$ into a data center renovation at one of the locations. They planned on additional space, power, network capacity and storage for an anticipated growth in the number of servers, but never accounted for the need for additional cooling.

So, long story short, a half-dozen or so portable AC units had to be procured. The room still fluctuates between running too warm or too cool (especially if you happen to be stationed next to one of the portable units).

Other than that, make a list of all the things you really dislike about the current setup, and try to do something to address all of them.

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Done this!

by Sys-arch In reply to Suggestions on MAJOR Serv ...

I did this in a 12x5 manufacturing facility and in a 24x7 hospital. With good planning you can get something your IT Director will be proud to show off to other execs. That wins big brownie points for you and the dept.!

Start with your goals. What do you want to accomplish? Look at future growth needs as well (power, cooling, cabling, etc.) Prioitize.

Look at your dollar budget. What can you realistically accomplish? Is it time to upgrade the network hardware too? Is your power and cooling adequate for today AND tomorrow? Can you lump this into a capital improvement project and show demonstratable benefits like adding network and/or server management, consolidated management consoles (KVM, reduced investment per server, improved troubleshooting and responsiveness)? Is it time for a raised floor (if you don't already have one) or overhead cable trays?

Take a hard look at your physical room. Lay out the room boundaries then your server and network equipment cabinets on paper or in a program like Visio. Try many different arrangements. Remember to look for available power outlets and judge cable lengths (power and network). Remember to leave room for people and cabinet doors! If you have several rows of cabinets, try arranging them back-to-back or front-to-front. Good rule of thumb: leave 4 feet front-to-front between cabinets and at least 2-1/2 feet (3 preferably) back-to-back.

Keep an eye out for how executives on a tour will walk into the room. Try to make that part look most appealing and organized. That's a good place to put your centralized server management consoles, two chairs, some reference books, and a log book (particularly useful if you have several people maintaining your equipment).

Look for equipment cabinets that have good cable management as well as front and rear doors. Closing the doors makes for a very neat and professional server room. Watch out, over time, for cables that extend through cabinet door frames preventing you from closing the door! Spend the extra minute or two each time you change or reroute a cable to do it right!

Rule of thumb: if you don't have time to do it right the first time, when are you ever going to have time to go back???

If you have several rows of cabinets, try arranging the server consoles somewhat centrally to minimize cable lengths. You should consider putting the network equipment centrally as well.

Group you servers based on function. If you are constantly accessing two servers all day long, don't put them on opposite ends of the room!

Bottom line: drop back and take a hard look at what you're doing now. What works? What doesn't? (location, arrangement, procedures, personnel attitude, etc.) How did you get to the messy state you're in now? How can you avoid that in the future? Set some definitive goals and prioritize them. Don't reserve anthing just because it's always been done that way or it's always been in that spot. Now is your chance to fix it! Make sure you get some WOW factor out of it. Your management will be impressed that you are taking such good care of the company's equipment. By extension, you must be taking care of everything else under your watch equally as well!

Now is a great time to establish some documentation guidelines. Consider hiring someone (even a high schooler), to help you document the setup. Choose cable colors, etc. that will mean something to you later on. For example, mission critical stuff in red, other servers in blue. If you run KVM over Cat-5 cabling, make the KVM runs a different color, say blue.

If you have a lot of wiring, consider establishing a 24-port (1U) patch panel (or more) in each cabinet that runs back to a central location. Put your network core adjacent to the central wiring area and your server and network management adjacent as well. Use color coded network jacks and cabling to indicate which ports are for network traffic, KVM cabling, etc.

If your servers need rebuilding (or replacing -- think standardizing!), now is a great chance to do that as you take them down and move them. HOWEVER, be careful about biting off too much work at one time or you will burn out yourself and the rest of the staff!

Lastly, be realistic about timeframes and goals. If the company is planning a major activity, don't schedule your downtime at the same time! Work with the business calendar! When you pull this off without (or minimally) impacting the business, you've really shown that you have the company's interests at heart.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

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