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How to Setup a Small Business Server Room

Do you have a server room?

If your business can’t or hasn’t yet moved everything to the cloud, then you likely need a server room. Not every organization has the resources to build out the kind of server rooms you see in movies, and that’s okay! Your server room doesn’t have to be the biggest or most expensive, but it does demand solid design to ensure effectiveness and viability for your business.

If you have a managed service provider, they can help you decide which equipment and layout will be appropriate for your business, as well as help you build out your server room and stay organized. If you’re flying solo, you’ll want some guidance setting up your server room. Here’s a few tips for setting up a small business server room, as described by CIO.

Choose Your Server Rack

Which rack is right for you? That’ll depend on what you’ll be using it for (data storage, processing, backup). Once you’ve decided what kinds of racks will accomplish each task, you’ll be able to build out the perfect rack or cabinet. Make sure you have enough power outlets and create a layout for patch panels and cable management brackets. Consult a professional if you have questions about how to select or setup your racks to meet your needs.

Regardless of the type of rack you choose (free-standing, wall-mounted, wall-anchored), securing it is an essential part of the installation process. Ensuring your rack is secure will prevent rack movement that could disrupt or damage the servers inside. You should always load your rack from the bottom up, as a top-heavy rack could tip or cause stress on the mounting.

Isolate Servers for Noise Reduction

Whenever possible, a separate server room or closet is worth the expense. Separating your servers from the main office space will not only reduce noise made by the equipment, it will also allow you to secure your equipment from theft, physical tampering, and accidents. There are times when small businesses may have no choice but to place the rack in the corner of the room. In this case, racks with sound-dampening properties are highly recommended. Keep in mind that complete soundproofing will be impossible, since air vents need to be able to breathe.

Keep It Cool

Heat can build quickly in your server rack and high temperatures are known to dramatically reduce equipment lifespan; overheating can lead to crashes or outages. You may need to install a separate air-conditioning unit, since most offices’ central AC units are set to switch off at a certain hour. Proper cable management (we’ll cover that next!) will also help ensure your servers are ventilating properly.

Cable Management

Properly bundling cables together behind equipment allows easier access to servers. There’s a slew of solutions to bundle and manage cables (like cable-management tracks, cable binders, zip-ties, and retro-fit rack equipment). Whatever solution you choose, your goal should be the same: to bundle and contain your cables in an organized manner. When bundling your cables, it’s common practice to bundle by server and then group those bundles together. This allows equipment managers to quickly and effectively access individual servers.

Spending time to reorganize a messy cable scheme and server room arrangement is certainly well worth the investment. Your equipment will last longer, your company’s data will be safer, and the risk of someone accidentally unplugging or restarting a mission-critical system without proper warning will be drastically reduced.

Tips for Setting Up a Small Business Server Room | Ripple IT

This shows what can happen when server rooms get out of control.

Label and Document Everything

You want your server room to be as organized as possible. Although bundling your cables together means you’ll be able to quickly identify groups of cables connected to a single server, labeling the cables gives another level of mapping. Labeling your cables will not only save you time, it will also reduce the likelihood of accidents, like systems being unplugged or restarted without warning.

The simplest way to label your infrastructure is with a label maker. When labeling your cables, you should aim to include the following information: Endpoints (what does the cable connect to and from) and a cable ID (a unique ID identifying the cable). Place your labels on the cable close to actual ports where they’re plainly visible; this will reduce the amount of time it will take to identify the cable. Detailed documentation describing important procedures related to your hardware should be kept up to date, even with the smallest of changes.

Keep it organized and secure!

Your server room plays a key role in your company; it contains all the important pieces that keep your business operating smoothly. Just thinking about damage occurring is probably enough to send you into a panic. This should help motivate you to keep your server room organized and to limit access to the server room to only those who need it. Doing so will ensure the safety and security of your equipment, prolong your hardware’s lifespan, and allow you to find and resolve any issues quickly! Phew!

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