Setting Up Your Server Room for Efficiency, Comfort, and Security

The server room may be one of your organization’s most important rooms. After all, servers are expected to hold up their end of the network around the clock. If you have the chance to plan a new server room or update the one you have, take the time to plan so that you, your staff, and the network will work efficiently, comfortably, and securely. The following tips can help you achieve those goals.

Size Up and Prepare Your Space

Determine the amount of space occupied by all of your current equipment, and then add the amount of room you’ll need for the next 18 months to house new equipment or personnel. Prepare the room by drawing up an equipment list; then, lay out everything, including power sockets, on paper. Work with an electrician to determine optimal power requirements, such as uninterruptible power supplies and power sockets, for your equipment.

Determine the most network-efficient methods to connect your servers, especially if the network’s heart–patch panels, punch down block, and routers–will be in the same room. You don’t want to create a packet bottleneck with overloaded subnets when you move your servers. Make sure the room is ventilated, air conditioned, or just cool, depending on your budget.

Secure Your Space

Secure your planned space with a combination lock or card access on the door. Keep track of individuals who have the combination or access cards, and provide access methods to security personnel in case of emergencies. If the server room will be in a new location, inform all the individuals who need to know. Arrange to have the telephone extension changed and the new extension published in the company directory.

Make Space in Your Space

Give yourself plenty of workspace for a desk, workstation, printer, bookcase, and a secure cabinet for storing tapes. Make ample room–not crawl space–at the back of servers and computers so you can comfortably get to cables and power sources or remove back enclosures. Use the same color cable for each specific task–for example, blue cables from the server to patch panel, and gray for all PC cabling.

Keep from damaging cabling by looping it with clips and keeping it off the floor. For high-end, rack-based server installations, use a device like Belkin’s OmniView ( to flip between control of different servers, either with a hotkey combination on the keyboard, a button on the switch, or a foot switch.

Document What’s in Your Space

Install and test all the equipment in your room. Then, draw diagrams to show how everything fits together, as follows: which ports each piece plugs into, which server does what, and which pieces of equipment each UPS covers. Label each server with its name and the network address. Put copies of your diagram in safe places–you may need to refer to the diagram if you relocate the server room, or if you have to plan a similar site on your next job. //

Elizabeth M. Ferrarini is a free-lance author based in Arlington, Massachusetts.

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