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Server Room Best Practices

Keeping server room cold

Last time, we gave a brief primer about proxy servers. This time, let’s discuss best practices for maintaining one of the most critical rooms in your office, your server room (or closet). If you don’t consider your server room critically important to the survival of your business, you should. Remember, the majority of companies that lose their data go out of business, and an overheated server is a sure way for that to happen.

When it comes to keeping your data safe, it’s only natural to think about hackers gaining access and either threatening to destroy your data (ransomware) or just outright doing it because they can. While it makes good business sense to focus on protecting your data from cyberattacks - and don’t worry Dresner Group has got you covered - you also need to think outside the box and recognize there are other dangers to your data, besides the usual suspects.

In this case, the primary danger to your server and the data it contains comes in the form of an unstable server room environment. Lest you think maintaining stable temperatures in your server isn’t that big of a deal, let us remind you that Microsoft, yes that Microsoft, lost access to their Hotmail and Outlook servers for hours due to overheated servers and they’re Microsoft. So perhaps you might take this a little more seriously, no?

What are some of the best practices to achieve the goal of maintaining your server room?

Server Room Monitoring Best Practices

Active Cooling

Your cooling solution is your first line of defense in maintaining the stability of your server room. Its reliability is tied to the uptime of your server. So don’t try and save money by using an air conditioner from your local home improvement center. While they may be less expensive than a cooling system designed for server applications, their lower price point also means less reliability. The one thing you can’t afford to do when you’re protecting your server room is skimp on reliability. Think about it like this: your servers will be running 24/7/365; even the best consumer grade air conditioners aren’t designed to carry such a workload. They will fail, and when they go down, they will take your servers with them. Invest the resources for a high-quality cooling solution.

Control Airflow

While you don’t need to be an expert in thermodynamics, you do need to understand how heat and cold air interact with each other. You need to control the temperature in your server room, this means understanding and having a plan to move the hot air away from your servers in an efficient manner. You also need to avoid cold and hot spots, which can occur when air gets trapped due to poor airflow management and increase the temperature of the equipment, leading to failure.

Invest in a High-Quality Monitoring System

Studies show that 75% of businesses don’t monitor their server rooms. Think about that for second and imagine if it was 75% of businesses didn’t have virus protection or lock their offices at night. Would you be surprised if a mishap occurred? Of course not. Many of these same businesses have no problem being in the dark in regards to their server health.

Temperature

The ambient room temperature should be between 64°-80°F, with relative humidity between 40%-60%. Monitoring humidity is essential because when humidity is too low, you increase opportunities for static electricity to build up in your server room. You should also monitor the temperature of the server itself because the device can easily overheat before the ambient air temperature can reflect it, obscuring the issue until it’s too late.

Water

Best practices recommend monitoring the area below the air conditioning unit, as well as the area around your server racks for water intrusion. There is a variety of ways water can enter your server room, the most obvious is via condensation from your air conditioning unit. However depending on your office space, there could also be sprinklers, pipes, or drains in the walls and the ceilings above or around your server room and out of your control. So if your neighbor has a clog, the water will need to go somewhere, and it may end up in your server room.

This is why it’s critical to have a system in place to monitor for water. If you do know where the interior pipes are and you can’t move your server away from them, you can create barriers such as plastic sheeting above your racks to guide the water away from your equipment. However, keep in mind to accommodate air flow allowing for cooling.

Access

Lastly and most importantly, you should always know who and when someone is in the server room. The server room needs to be the most secure room in your office, as it contains some of the most valuable commodity available to your business, your data. While we are not necessarily worried about theft of data, we are concerned about misadventure occurring. An open container, a person carrying a static charge, a kicked power cord, all can have disastrous results to your equipment. In the end, while it may be accidental, your clients, your employees won’t care: all they know is service has been disrupted. 

Additionally, the opening and closing of the server room door can interfere with the temperature of the room, as well as expose the room to additional contaminants such as dust, vermin, and other risk factors. For best results, ensure you have control over unauthorized access to your server at all times.

Finally Backup, Backup, Backup.

Best practices are all well and good, but as they say, “the best-laid plans…” There is just something out of your control, which means you should focus more energy on the things you can control. Ensuring your data is safe is one of those things and we at Dresner Group are experts and have a variety of solutions to help you implement data backup services to ensure maximum survivability in the event of the unexpected. To learn more, reach out to us at 410-531-6727.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

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