There are a variety of factors to consider when constructing a new server room. But before you start mapping out your strategy, consider the following suggestions from IT professionals who have been there, done that already. You just might avoid some of the most common pitfalls!
1. Location, Location, Location. Determining the location of the server room is your first consideration. If possible, avoid exterior walls and windows of the building. Walls can be damp, while windows are susceptible to being blown in or out by storm winds.
2. Size It Up. Failing to factor expansion into your initial design is likely to cause problems down the road. Although projecting growth can be speculative, enterprise architects recommend planning five years out with a growth rate of 20 percent per year.
3. Seek Higher Ground. Due to the threat of flooding, don’t locate your server room in the basement. Instead, seek a higher and more central location that will not only alleviate flooding concerns but can also help minimize cable run distribution.
4. Avoid Waterworks. Unexpected storm flooding isn’t the only water threat for server rooms. Never back your space up to a “wet wall” containing any pipes or plumbing, as breaks or leaks can cause significant equipment damage.
5. Keep Cool. Make sure your server room is temperature-controlled. It is generally recommended that temperature inside a rack doesn’t exceed 23°C (73°F), while Relative Humidity (rH) should remain around 50% with a ±10% margin.
6. Play It Safe. Don’t overlook security concerns. If possible, construct your server room with no external entry points (windows or additional doors) and make sure it remains under lock and key.
7. Have An Exit Strategy. Don’t assume you’ll never need to remove or replace any equipment. Be sure the doorway will allow equipment and LAN cabinets to enter without having to remove the door or frames. A 42-inch-wide by 84-inch-tall door should accommodate most requirements.
8. Get Fired Up. While the building is likely equipped with a fire detection and sprinkler system, the server room itself should have its own protection that utilizes an alternative such as a clean agent system — which extinguish fires by removing heat — or inert gases, which essentially suffocate the fire by depriving it of oxygen.
9. Leave Some Breathing Room. Room for expansion isn’t the only space consideration. If possible, allocate space both in front of and behind racks for easy maintenance access.
10. Divide and Conquer. Whenever possible, keep your server room’s power supply and climate controls separate from the rest of the office space.