By Standard Digital Reporter
NAIROBI, KENYA: Having experienced thousands of server rooms of small businesses and branch offices, global specialist in energy management, Schneider Electric has revealed that most of them are not only space constrained, but also disorganised, unsecured, hot, and unmonitored. Often, mission critical IT equipment has been found in confined rooms, closets, or even on the office floor. IT managers in these environments have little time to research physical infrastructure best practices, yet there are practical steps that can be taken to improve these situations, prevent downtime and decrease energy costs.
To address these issues, Samuel Nelson, East Africa enterprise & systems account manager for Schneider Electric, has detailed some practical advice on the areas he believes can make a real difference, namely power, cooling, use of racks, physical security, monitoring, and lighting.
Power reliability increases if each uninterrupted power supply (UPS) is plugged into a separate circuit where each circuit is fed from its own circuit breaker. Redundant UPS systems, in which more than one backup option exists with each one able to take the full load by itself, are recommended for critical dual-corded equipment, such as servers and domain controllers.
The recommended temperature range for IT equipment is between 18 and 27 degrees Celsius, although the allowable range is from 15 to 32 degrees Celsius. “Small rooms or office spaces can be cooled in a number of ways, with the best cooling method being determined by the location of the IT equipment – does the neighbouring space have air conditioning to maintain a target temperature? Does a wall, ceiling or floor come into contact with significant heat, from the sun for example? And how much power is consumed by equipment in the room?” adds Nelson.
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It is often difficult for small businesses to justify the extra cost of a rack enclosure, but a rack is the fundamental structure for expensive IT equipment, as it increases availability, organisation, security, cooling effectiveness, and ease of power. “In situations where IT equipment has to be located in open office areas, many of the disadvantages can be mitigated if it is installed correctly within a secure enclosure, with integrated ventilation, noise dampening, and power distribution,” he recommends.
“While the human element is an integral part of IT operations, we have seen that staff members are often responsible for much of the IT downtime through accidents and mistakes. With servers and other IT deployments becoming increasingly mission critical, locking a server room and limiting access is essential. In some cases, the installation of security cameras, equipped with additional temperature and humidity monitoring capabilities, are also recommended.”
UPS and environmental monitoring is useful to all small businesses, especially to those branches that have no local IT person. By notifying remote IT administrators of any critical UPS alarms and damaging environmental conditions immediately, steps can be taken and unforeseen downtime reduced.
IT equipment frequently ends up in small, dark closets posing a server rooms. “Small, thoughtful additions, such as a low cost lamp, hung from a hook in the back of a closed IT cabinet, is a cheap and effective way to ensure proper visibility,” concludes Nelson.