If your small business hasn't moved to the cloud, it's likely you need a server room. Not every enterprise has space and resources to build an FBI-style server room, you see in movies, which is perfectly understandable. Your server room needn’t be huge nor expensive but organized and planned so that it supports your business needs. Here are a few solid tips.
Space and power
When choosing a room for the server, you need to consider both current needs and future growth. When designing your server room footprint, you need to calculate the square footage, ceiling height, weight distribution, and air circulation. The size of your space also determines the type of equipment you can use. A fully-configured server room can use a significant amount of power, so make sure you keep the power supply redundant to prevent issues like overheated equipment, a single point of failure, and power fluctuations.
The server rack
The choice of the server rack depends whether you’ll use it for data storage, processing, or backup, or any combination of those three. Once you’ve settled that, you’ll be able to build a great rack or cabinet. Just make sure there are enough power outlets, and remember to leave some room for cable management brackets. Whether you've chosen a free-standing, wall-mounted, or wall-anchored rack, you need to secure it to prevent it from moving. This way you’re protecting the servers inside. When loading your rack, always fill in the components from the bottom up.
When it comes to server noise management, having a separate room or at least closet is always worth the investment. By keeping your servers separated from your main office, you’re not only reducing noise made by the equipment, but also keeping your equipment safe from theft, unauthorized tampering, and accidents. However, in some cases, startup businesses have no other choice than to place the rack in the corner of the room. In this case, you want to find a rack with sound-dampening features. Still, keep in mind that complete soundproofing is impossible since you need to have air vents.
Keeping it cool
If your server rig deploys a couple of network switches and a five-bay network attached storage, there is no need for additional cooling. However, as your business grows and you keep adding more servers, perhaps an uninterruptible power supply, the heat output will increase dramatically, in which case you need air conditioning. If your company is based in Australia, the good news is that in 2018 the NSW government has announced generous discounts for SMBs who install energy approved air conditioning units, so keep that in mind when you start looking for a commercial air conditioning installation in Sydney. You can further reduce the heat in your server room by keeping it free of all unnecessary equipment and using fluorescent bulbs that don’t give off any heat.
Bundling cables together behind the equipment lets you access the servers more easily. When it comes to cable bundling and management here are many options, including cable tracks, cable binders, zip-ties, and retrofit equipment. Whichever solution you choose, the goal is the same: keep your cables organized. The usual practice is to bundle by a server and then bundle those bundles together. This layout gives equipment managers easy access to individual servers and cable bundles. Using a patch panel like RJ45 that offers 24 ports requires some work, like stripping cables, punching into the panel, and verifying the connectivity with a wire tester.
Bundling your cables together means you’ll be able to quickly identify groups of cables linked to a single server, labelling the cables, on the other hand, gives you a whole other level of mapping. Not only does it save time, but also reduces the probability of accidents like individual systems being unplugged or restarted. The easiest way to do this is by using a label printer. When labelling the cables, you need to include the endpoints – what does the cable run to and from, and a cable ID. Place the labels close to actual ports where they can be visible at all times.
Managing your IT in-house and setting up a dedicated office server room might seem like an intimidating project for a small business, especially on the eve of a widespread shift to online servers. However, even with much of the resources focused on medium-sized installations, with a little simple understanding, setting up a server room for a small business boils down to a checklist process.