When your servers are housed in a datacenter, you don’t need to worry about keeping them clean or finding ways to improve energy efficiency – that’s someone else’s job. When you maintain your own server room, however, you have no choice.
Maintaining your own on-premise server room isn’t hard when you know what you’re doing. The biggest challenge is designing your setup and organizing your cables so your room doesn’t end up looking like a spaghetti mess.
Are you ready to have a server room that anyone would admire? Here are two foundational strategies to make that happen:
1. Be intentional with your cabling
Abe Lincoln is rumored to have said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” Whether he really said that or not, we’ll never know. However, it’s great advice that applies to your server room.
Sorting through a mess of cables isn’t practical. Thankfully, it is preventable. Before you start building your connections, create a plan for how you’ll wrap and connect your cables. Don’t start connecting anything until you have a plan.
If you’ve never professionally wrangled your cables, for inspiration, here’s what a server room should look like. Just looking at the pictures brings peace of mind. It almost looks like art. There’s nothing to trip over, and it’s clear where the cables come from and go to.
Though it looks fantastic, organizing your server room cables isn’t strictly about aesthetics; it’s about laying the foundation for practicality and efficiency, now and in the future.
A messy setup might be functional today, but what happens when you need to troubleshoot next week? How long will it take you to untangle the mess to find that single broken cable? How many “wrong” cables will you unplug in the process, causing downtime for your network?
Yes, it takes time to create picture-perfect cables, but it’s worth the time and effort. Investing a few more hours in the setup process will save you (and anyone else you work with) exponential frustration in the future.
Organizing your cables will also reduce energy consumption in the room by increasing airflow.
2. Be intentional and do it right from the start
- Energy efficiency. A messy server room contributes to higher power bills. The more clutter you have, the less airflow is possible. Plus, components can overheat. Clutter is a losing situation.
Before loading up your racks, consider ways to reduce the energy consumption in the room. There are plenty of strategies you can use, including:
Installing an air conditioner
Hot aisle/cold aisle layouts
Variable speed fan drives
Airflow management devices
If you’ve already built your room, consider these options for reducing existing energy use:
Consolidate lightly used servers
Decommission unused servers
Buy energy efficient servers and components
In addition to saving on your monthly bill, you can get paid for reducing your energy consumption. Titan Power explains the benefit of utility rebate programs: “Energy costs at data centers can be more than 100 times higher than a typical office building. By finding ways to save energy, you reduce your energy consumption and therefore reduce your power bills. In addition, you can receive rebates from your utility company. Major utility companies offer specialized utility rebate programs for businesses.”
If you haven’t asked your utility company about rebate programs that you qualify for as a business, call and find out.
- Rackspace. An organized server room starts with the proper setup. Part of the reason cables become a tangled mess is because they have to be stretched across the room, or between staggered racks.
Avoid using tables, desks, and shelves for your servers; you’ll never get it professionally organized. Rack-mounted equipment is specifically designed to house your hardware. It’s more expensive, but consider what’s worth more: holding onto your money or being able to effortlessly maintain your servers?
The best thing about racks is that you can order them according to the width, depth, and height dimensions you actually need.
If you’ve never used a rack before, com explains how it works. “Server racks are measured in terms of rack units, usually written as “RU” or simply “U.” One rack unit equals 1.75 inches (44.45mm) in height, with compliant equipment measured in multiples of “U.” Network switches are generally 1U to 2U, servers can range from 1U to 4U and blade servers can be anywhere from 5U to 10U or more.”
Now that you know how to do it, create a server room you can be proud of. Your employees and tech support staff will thank you.