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Server Room Wiring Tips

Jan 22, 2013

The discussions based around server room monitoring, temperature measurement and climate control have the same general focus overall. Realistically, the need for any type of monitoring solution takes a backseat to standard maintenance and upkeep of server rooms and racks. Simply put, monitoring a poorly maintained server room is wholly counterintuitive. Remember that "server room monitoring" of any type, is only effective with regular maintenance, proper organization and cleaning. A monitored mess, is still a mess!

Time and time again, System Administrators and IT personnel alike venture into their new (and terribly organized) server rooms and scream "The horror, the horror!".

 

Organize your Wires by Color:

This is a simple, logical fix that makes a tremendous difference. For those with complex server rooms and a bevvy of connections and switches, this is absolutely crucial. Straight from Google's tour of their datacenters:

"Each of our server racks has four switches, connected by a different colored cable. We keep these colors the same throughout our data center so we know which one to replace in case of failure."

As you can see, this Google datacenter has employed that tactic successfully. Cleanliness is truly next to godliness. Though you may not house an entire data center in your backyard, this tip is priceless for any server room administrator. Colored organization allows you to pinpoint incremental failures, and act without disrupting the entirety of the system. 

Organize all wires from a similar origin and use zipties to tighten them up (if possible). The zipties "bunches" will occupy less overall space. If you can, purchase different color wirings for differentiation between origins. Your IT administrators will be pleased that you've provided these organizational tools, and hopefully, will utilize them to eliminate confusion and help simplify technical maintaince/equipment checks. 

 

Colocation

To take this a step further, server room administrators who use distant colocation centers should have a thorough outline of all wires, servers and connections. Wires must be divided by color, organized by zipties to eliminate congestion, and most importantly, all server equipment should be photographed. The photos can serve as a guideline for "remote hands" who may need to make occasional, but necessary,  adjustments for you. With the color wirings in place, you'll be able to direct your "remote admins" with a visual guide and wirings will be clearly marked by color. For extra protection, label the wirings with symbols or marks to further signify their specific use. 

 

Cleanliness!

This is an often overlooked tip that many business owners fail to act on. Debris and other hazards can be left behind from standard maintaince or even with the instalattion of new hardware. The Association of Data Center Cleaning Professionals (ADCCP) recommends these simple tips for cleanliness in your server room.

 

Subfloor Surface Cleaning 

Subfloor surface cleaning includes vacuuming the concrete subfloor plenum using specialized critical filter vacuums in compliance with recognized standards for cleaning data centers. This service removes contamination from your subfloor plenum to eliminate the build-up of particulate that can be carried into your room’s air flow and cause downtime inside your datacom equipment. 

Raised Floor Surface Cleaning 

Raised floor surface cleaning includes cleaning the surface of the raised floor panels. This service includes vacuuming and damp mopping the floor surface with cleaning chemicals approved for use in data center environments. 

Exterior Equipment Surface Cleaning 

Exterior equipment surface cleaning includes cleaning the exterior surface of cabinets, equipment, and workstations by vacuuming where applicable with critical filtered vacuums, and then wiped clean an approved anti-static cleaner approved for use in data center environments. No input devices should be cleaned unless the device is completely powered down.

Interior Server Cabinet Cleaning 

Interior server cabinet cleaning includes cleaning the surface of the server cabinet doors, server exhaust fans and surfaces of the servers inside the cabinet. Surfaces are vacuumed with critical filtered vacuums and then wiped clean using an approved anti-static cleaner approved for use in data center environments.

Ceiling Cleaning 

Ceiling cleaning includes overhead cleaning by either vacuuming above the drop ceiling tiles by using critical filter vacuums in compliance with recognized standards for cleaning data centers, and/or vacuuming and wiping clean overhead raceways with an approved anti-static cleaner approved for use in data center environments. 

Anti-Static Floor Finishing 

Anti-static floor finishing includes applying an approved anti-static floor finish to non-raised floor surfaces to prevent dangerous static build-up. Manufacturers of high pressure laminated (HPL) access floor panels strongly recommend never to apply floor wax to the surface of the access floor panels. 

Subfloor Encapsulation 

Subfloor encapsulation includes the application of an epoxy coating to the concrete subfloor plenum surface that acts as a vapor and dust barrier. Epoxy coatings should be applied manually to the surface of the subfloor plenum. Installing a Subfloor encapsulant is one of the best ways to reduce concrete dusting and subsequent airborne particulate concentrations in your data center. 

Airborne Particulate Count Sampling 

Airborne particle count sampling includes a sampling of airborne particulates within your data center utilizing a laser particle counter. Particulate sampling is an indicator of airborne contamination. We recommend that an airborne particle count sampling be obtained at each regularly scheduled maintenance cleaning by trained personnel.

 

Once you've gotten past the basics of cleanliness and wiring practices, don't neglect temperature monitoring devices and/or sensors for your server room. Choose a robust monitoring system and be proactive with cleanliness to ensure smooth operation. Many problems, such as meltdowns or short circuits, can be prevented with regular cleaning. Your monitoring solution should be sensitive to temperature and humidity changes, and should not be alerting you to periodic annoyances and incremental changes that result from the lack of cleaning.

 

Check out our FREE E-Book for specifics on temperature monitoring, server room upkeep and more!

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