If your business has so many computer servers that their heat and constant buzzing are getting to you, it may be time to set up a server room. In fact, even without the annoyances of a nearby server stack, it is a wise idea to give servers their own dedicated space.
Decreased Noise, Increased Security
The noise pollution from even a modest server installation can be very distracting in a small office environment. By moving the servers into another room, you cut down on the amount of noise that your employees have to tolerate, creating a calmer office environment and hopefully a more productive staff.
By keeping the servers out of your main office space, you also reduce the number of people who have access to your company data. It’s much easier to control access to servers in a separate, locked room. It may also be easier to perform maintenance and repairs in a space that isn’t subject to the constant flow of employees and clients.
Heat is an issue for most companies with a server installation, and dedicated server rooms allow you to control air conditioning and put fire safety measures in place. It may be costly to take these steps, but when it comes to securing your data and ensuring business continuity, it is well worth the expense.
In fact, server overheating is an issue that has intensified rather than lessened in recent years. As vendors place more and faster processors in smaller servers, the heat output rises. The problem is particularly prevalent with blade servers, which pack a lot of punch in a compact package.
To keep servers cool, companies invest in more sophisticated air-conditioning systems, such as ceiling and floor coolers with backup power supplies. Some companies even opt for new systems that suck hot air out of the racks.
Fortunately, small and mid-size companies don’t usually have such a severe heat problem because they don’t usually have as many servers. Cooling is still a concern, however, and a server room will help you address any cooling needs you may have.
Setting Up a Server Room
In setting up your server room, the first decision you have to make is size. The room has to hold your servers and related equipment, such as tapes or disks for backups, fans, and extra parts. Remember: Do NOT keep your backup system and data in the server room! These should be stored in a separate location in case of a fire, flood, or other disaster.
Also, make sure that you leave room to grow. Once you get all of your equipment in one location, you don’t want to have to move it or pay for the construction of a new server room if you decide to add more machines.
The room should have adequate lighting and electrical outlets. You will need power supplies not only for the servers, but for any fans or air-conditioning units you plan to put in. Again, you’ll want to plan for growth and contingencies.
“It’s always good to have more power than is required to handle the occasional spike,” says Luigi Baccari, president of Boston-based IT firm E-Data Corp.
Battery power is another consideration, according to Baccari. You’ll need to ask yourself how long you can go without power. “This requires a serious balance of immediate versus possible costs and should be approached carefully,” he advises.
Along with power concerns, you’ll want to talk to a trusted IT advisor about cooling options. Moreover, make sure that you keep the room tidy and clean. Air conditioners and fans blow particles of dirt around and these can settle on and damage sensitive equipment. Some companies install air filters to reduce the flow of airborne debris, so this is another step you may want to consider.
Setting up a server room takes some planning and investment but the payoff is worth the effort. Not only do you get increased data security, you can reap greater longevity from your equipment and a more comfortable work environment for your employees.
Scarlet Pruitt is a freelance writer and business consultant based in San Francisco. She has covered business and technology for publications in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America.