Dust Off Your Shelves: Data Center Organization

Posted by Gaw Technology on 1/17/2013 to Rack Knowledge

Take an objective look at your data center. Are you cabinets, shelves and server racks covered in dust? Are countless wires giving your server space a chaotic “medusa” effect? 

Your servers may not be complaining, but they would be if they could. 

“Computers, like giant electric furnaces, generate vast amounts of heat and their components are very sensitive to extremes of temperature, humidity and the presence of dust.” 

-- Liebert Corporation's “The Seven Elements Every Manager Should Know About Computer Air Conditioning”

Make an effort to make your server space clean and organized. Why? To prevent the following:

  • Condensation/over-humidity and rust

  • Electrostatic discharge and dust fires

  • Ferrous (iron) metal buildup on circuit boards

  • Read/write errors and head crashes caused by dusty disk drives 

  • Erroneously triggered halon dumps by subfloor fire detectors, caused by dust-laden air 

  • Infiltration of insects and rodents

  • Diminished lubrication in mechanical linkages, which accelerates mechanical wear, once again caused by airborne dust

In other words, you need to invest in vacuums that remove particulate at the submicron level. 

EMPLOYEE BONUS: Poor indoor air quality is directly related to “sick building syndrome,” especially considering the lack of airflow in data centers. To alleviate this problem, invest in HEPA-filtered computer room vacuums that filtrate down to 0.3 microns and 99.97% efficiency and completely eliminate bacteria, fungus and other disease causing particles. Annual or semi-annual filtration prevents health risks from indoor air pollution. 

To wrap up the wire situation, consider trunks. These are lines or links designed to handle multiple signals at the same time, interconnecting switches to create networks and joining local area networks (LANs) to form wide area networks (WANs) or virtual LANs (VLANs). Trunks -- consisting of multiple cables, wires or fiber optic strands -- not only maximize available bandwidth and channel capacity, but they also cut down on physical signal paths and, therefore, the amount of hardware needed. 

Precision air conditioning -- the simultaneous control of temperature, humidity, air motion and cleanliness -- allows your equipment to operate at optimum performance. Make it a point to rearrange your equipment into the proper hot aisle/cold aisle layout and utilize a subfloor air plenum, if possible. See our previous post for more detail on this cooling strategy, which blocks airflow from hot aisles and directs it into the cold aisles.

Remember, a clean data center is a high functioning data center. Keep your office furniture clean and your servers cool … the calm of a smooth-running data center will follow.

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