Tag Archives: server racks

Zen and the Art of Running a Data Center

canstockphoto4912969by TechRack Systems

Chances are you and your team work hard to ensure that your data center is set up and maintained properly, but did you ever think about seeking advice on how to make it not just more energy efficient but also more energetically balanced? That just might be possible with the ancient art of feng shui, the Chinese philosophical system of environmental harmony.

Although it might seem odd for ideas that are thousands of years old to be applicable to the care and maintenance of data centers that were invented only a few decades ago, but many of the general principles of feng shui just make good common sense. The principle of repairing or fixing anything that is broken, cracked, or rotting isn’t just a good idea but is also a professional imperative. Another obvious maxim is to clear away all clutter, easy to understand but hard to do!

Maybe less applicable is the suggestion to make your space beautiful (“Live with what you love!”) and to bring in nature, although maybe a plant or two in the entryway is a good idea. It has the added fortune of satisfying the recommendation to make your entryway enticing – after all, that’s how the chi gets in. Chi is the basic energy of the universe, kind of like The Force…and who doesn’t want more of that?

But it’s not just about rearranging your server racks and sweeping out dust. Peace of data mind also comes from within. Our “monkey mind” can distract us with inner questions, so here’s some advice from the ancient masters to put you in that ZEN state of mind.

Q: Do I need an emergency back-up generator?
A: “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”  – Marie Curie

Q: What is the rated floor weight limit for my server racks?
A: “Life is more or less a lie, but then again, that’s exactly the way we want it to be.”  – Bob Dylan

Q: What is the best way to ensure facilities have dust-contained, raised floors?
A: Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does.”  – Epictetus

Q: How do I install fiber network cables into the server cabinets?
A: “I’d love to give you something but what would help?”  – Ikkyu

Q: What is the best way to configure my data center power systems?
A: “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”  – Confucius

Q: How can I get more airflow through equipment racks?
A: “Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place.”  – Lao Tzu

Q: What’s the advantage of fully enclosed cabinets versus open racks?
A: “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.”  – William Shakespeare

Q: I have my computer equipment in front of an air conditioning unit and yet the equipment still runs hot. Why and how can I fix it?
A: “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”  – Pablo Picasso

Q: Where should I place perforated floor tiles, in relation to small server racks, in order to maximize air floor and cooling?
A: “Your duty is to choose, not to choose this or that.”  – Zen Koan

Q: How often do I need to check aging equipment to ensure it’s in good working order?
A: “Man who stands on hill with his mouth open will wait a long time for roast duck to drop in.”  – Confucius

Q: What’s the best approach to upgrading older server racks?
A: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  – Lao Tzu

Thoughts from the old masters and TechRack Systems: techrack.com; 888-266-3577.

DATABLANCA

canstockphoto2944364“I Stick My Rack Out For Nobody.”

by TechRack Systems

It was a quiet night at the data center. The day shift was gone, and the house lights were out. Street lamps shone through the fog and across the desk of Rack Blanca, now slumped over a tangle of old cords, an empty glass by one hand, and a near-empty bottle by the other. At the sound of footsteps, Rack stirs, pours a drinks and knocks it back just as Sam, the night onsite engineer, walks in.

“Is that you, boss?” Sam says. Rack just looks at him, expressionless. The light of a passing truck sweeps the scene, and Rack reaches for the bottle in silence. Sam tries again. “Boss?”

“Yeah?”

“Ain’t you going to bed?”

Rack takes a swig. “Not right now.”

“Ain’t you planning on going to bed in the near future?”

“No!” Rack is clearly in a grim mood. Sam settles in and starts to fiddle with some equipment.

Rack hangs his head. “Of all the data centers in all the towns in all the world, she had to walk into mine.” Sam nods; Rack’s talking about the new manager, Ella. He figured she would show up sometime – after all, everyone comes to Rack’s.

“What’s that you’re doing?” Rack looks up at Sam.

“Oh nothing, just looking over some PUE data,” Sam shrugs, trying to seem casual, but really, this was something Ella asked for. Her job was to ensure the data center basics were all in place, and she was a stickler for power continuity and secure server enclosures. She’d been bugging Sam to ensure their UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) was solid.

“PUE. What’s that?”

Rack must be really drunk, Sam thinks. “C’mon, boss, you know – Power Usage Effectiveness. Don’t you want me to keep us running efficiently, and avoid brownouts, blackouts? Then I gotta measure our power usage. Anyway, that’s what Ella said…” Sam sees Rack wince, and knows he shouldn’t have mentioned Ella.

“Oh yeah? So you’re measuring power usage for her, huh? Well, now measure it for me. C’mon! I can take it. If she can be more efficient, I can!”

Sam shrugs again, and Rack’s thoughts drift back to earlier that afternoon, when Ella had suddenly showed up, in his private office, lowering the blinds. She said she wanted to talk security, and so he pretended to believe her, for old time’s sake.

First she started talking about cameras – how many security cameras did they have and in what locations. Maybe they should hire security guards. Didn’t he want to protect his data?

“Want to?” Rack had said. “Baby, I have to protect my data and lock my server cabinets. But it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of one little data center don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world…”

Some women were never satisfied; luckily she didn’t bother to bring up fingerprint and retinal scanners – she knew Rack’s was too low rent for that – but she really pressed him on the firewalls. “And I’m not talking those little boxes inside the computers,” she’d purred. “I mean, actual walls for preventing fires. Rack, can you give me that?”

Ella had looked around the place with a bit of distain. “What’s happened to this place? Sure, it’s always safer to keep a low profile – no reason to just let in anyone when you’ve got data to keep secure, but…” She ran her finger along a dusty air duct. “Can’t you at least keep the equipment running?”

Rack had only half listened as she talked about the sad state of his old HVAC. “Rack, we’ve got to optimize our environmental factors.” She never used to talk so fancy. “Keeping the cold rooms at 70 degrees, like in the old days…you don’t need to. Let’s bring the heat up to 80, and re-think server density, I bet we can reduce operational costs just by…”

Leave it to her to bring up the past, that very first data center they ever worked in together. Now that place had bad airflow management. Ella’s throat had always been dry, but that just made her sultry voice even better…back when she’d loved him…

Suddenly, a crash startles Rick awake. His bottle was in broken bits on the floor, and Sam was already grabbing a broom to sweep it up, singing a little tune to himself. “The world will always welcome data, as time goes by.”

Rack sits up. Sam was right. No need to dwell on the past. Rack turns back to the QuadAdjust 24” deep wire shelf unit he’d been installing before going off on that bender. It was a sweet piece of TechRack’s equipment, heavy duty chrome finish, perfect welds and able to hold a ton. Who needs women when you got equipment like this, he thought. Heck, it might just be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Are Your #Data #Center #Servers in Tip Top Shape?

canstockphoto12893445by TechRack Systems

At most data centers, servers get the least amount of attention—not because they aren’t important, of course—but because they are the most “stable” elements compared to other IT priorities. Taking the time to address potential pitfalls that can occur with servers can avoid future problems.

Ditch the Dust

One of the biggest issues for electronic equipment is that it attracts dust and other particles. Because of the airflow patterns in data centers, it doesn’t take long to cause equipment issues. Take these precautions:

  • Use air filters and sealed doors on server racks and cabinets to help eliminate dust getting into servers and peripherals.
  • Limit who has access to the server area to avoid opportunities for touching equipment.
  • When opening cardboard boxes or other materials, avoid doing so near the server cabinets since particles can become airborne quickly.
  • If there is construction near the servers, clean up residual sheet rock or other materials that can corrode equipment components.

Let Equipment Breathe

One of the most common problems with server equipment is that the electronics inside can cause it to run hot. If the air doesn’t have the opportunity to expel, computers and peripherals can overheat, fail, or become a fire hazard if not ventilated properly. Here are some tips for upkeep:

  • Use perforated metal doors and side panels and fans for better air flow into and through the cabinet.
  • Vented shelves to allow fixed air space between pieces of equipment; it is discouraged to stack components on top of each other as it can cause overheating.

Check Aging Equipment

Electronic equipment and its software have a limited life even when it seems to be in good working order. For instance, CPUs, adapters, and other hardware can be used for years, but the applications and software that run on computing equipment can degrade the overall performance over time.

  • Evaluate all components to ensure good wear-leveling and endurance; factor these into your software purchasing and maintenance cycles.
  • Work closely with equipment vendor(s) to ensure you understand lifespan, managing and protecting the equipment, and warranty details.
  • Compare your current equipment with the latest version(s) to determine if it’s more cost-effective to retire it and purchase new models.

Do a “Once-Over” on Equipment

Periodically, it’s recommended to do a hands-on evaluation of the physical appearance of servers and peripherals to make sure they’re in good working order:

  • Check hardware for error indicators or lights and any hardware termination or interoperability issues.
  • Test the functionality of all peripheral equipment to make sure it’s operating properly.
  • Check all plugs and cabling; look for wear and tear and any incorrect cabling; investigate disconnected cables and adjust or remove them.

Taking these steps can help extend working life of your server equipment, reduce the chance of service calls, and allow the IT team to focus on other priorities (and save those urgent requests for other departments).

For any questions or a personal evaluation of your server rack needs, visit our website, www.techrack.com, or contact TechRack Systems at sales@techrack.com or 888-266-3577.

Top Five Ways To Save Money on Server Racks

spendsaveimage by TechRack Systems

Server racks contain the nuts and bolts of your business—literally!—and thus represent one of the most important purchases for your data center or office. To get the most value for your dollar, here are five ways to conserve cash when you’re evaluating server cabinets.

1. Measure Twice, Buy Once

Before doing anything, all components and computers should be measured to ensure they fit into the usable space of the server rack—not a ballpark estimate. There are important dimensions to consider:

  • The footprint of a server rack (the outside dimensions) is not the same as the usable inside dimensions, which are smaller by 3 to 6 inches.
  • Be sure to select, measure, and calculate all aspects of the proposed placement area for the server rack, and take into account any restrictions, codes, or door swing issues you might have.
  • Always leave at least 1U clearance (1.75″ between components for better airflow and heat dissipation). Never go to the max that you can squeeze into a server rack, it will end up costing you later. Which brings us to our next tip…

2. Shop For Quality, Not Just a Price Tag

As with any purchase, the value is only as good as its reliability. If it has to be repaired or replaced (or there is a lack of ability to do so), the low price was not worth the hassle and cost later. Some of the best cabinets are made in the U.S. with American steel. Look for racks that are made with fully welded frames versus those that are knocked down and assembled on-site. You’ll also want sturdy doors of carbon steel with all welded construction. In the end, spending a little more upfront for quality will save you later.

Here are some guidelines for computer cabinet specs to keep in mind:

  • With vertical mounting rails—12-gauge cold-rolled steel or heavier, with holes that
    meet EIA spacing
  • For 48” tall to 84” tall computer racks —carbon steel frames of at least 12 gauge
  • For full height cabinets—a static load rating of at least 2,000 lbs.
  • Small server racks between 6U and 18U—with fully welded sides, top, and bottom

3. Plan For Changes in the Future

A very small rack or a wall rack may be enough to hold all of your components for now, but what if your business grows this year? Or you hire more employees? What if you move to a different location with a new configuration? Any number of factors can affect data center and small office plans.

If you don’t consider the possibility of expansion (or moving), you might end up spending more money for future additions or replacements, not to mention potential freight and installation costs. But if you opt to buy a taller or deeper server rack from the beginning, it’s only slightly more costly than a smaller unit, which can save you money and more planning down the road.

4. Choose Full-featured Cabinets for Adaptability

Future considerations (and savings) don’t stop with size alone: Start factoring in all the “moving parts” now. To maximize floor space, consider cabinets with flush mounted side panels and doors, both top and bottom. Look for 24” wide cabinets, as they will likely match the widths of the floor tiles in the computer rooms where you plan to install them. If you have multiple components bayed together, consider cabinets that are joined by a top mount frame coupler with pre-drilled holes in the cabinet frames—this will avoid fix-it projects down the line (note: be sure that cage nuts or rack screws are included with your purchase).

Next priority is ventilation: Our top picks are cabinets with open bases to allow for a raised floor ventilation option. And check availability of solid or vented side panels, as well as optional split rear doors. To keep maintenance simple, look for field-reversible front and rear doors that don’t require tools to change the door swing.

Other potential elements that can save you down the line:

  • Capability to add up to 4 fans in the cabinet top
  • Cabinets that are seismic zone 4 rated and that are UL Listed
  • Cabinets with both seismic tie-downs and caster mount features as well as 4-point
    leveling

5. Don’t Forget Safe and Secure

None of the above factors matters if your cabinets are not secure and your data is lost or equipment is stolen. Take stock of your server cabinets with the following checklist:

  • Do your cabinets have lockable front and rear doors?
  • Are your side panels secured from the inside of the cabinet? Or do they have available locking, quick-release side panels?
  • Will your cabinet doors accommodate electronic, proximity, or combination locks?

Security is not something you want to scrimp on. The money you spend now far outweighs the issues you could have later.

For a personal evaluation of your computer server needs, contact sales@techrack.com, or visit our Website, www.techrack.com.

Keep Your Eye on These Server Trends in 2014

Server Rack Trends 2014

by TechRack Systems

Each year brings new designs, innovations, and trends to the server industry and 2014 is no exception. As server equipment becomes more optimized and energy-efficient, the supporting server racks must be more versatile than ever before. That means the purchasing consideration process becomes more complex when evaluating your future data center and small office computer rack needs.

Here are four key words to guide you in your purchasing decisions: Disruption, Density, Integration, and Cloud. Let’s explore further…

1. Disruption: We’ve all heard of “disruptive innovation” when it comes to new technologies—they bring sudden changes in technology that force businesses to adapt or risk losing revenue or even their company altogether. With that, companies often fall into three categories: a preference to be risk-averse and stick to the mainstream; a tendency to take moderate risks to enhance their business; or the willingness to take big risks with the eye on the prize of bigger goals, expansion, and revenue. Which path you decide to take will depend on your company’s size, financial situation, and future plans. These characteristics also drive how well your data center will likely react to the change.

2. Density: As technologies advance, it’s becoming the norm to consolidate more servers and related computing equipment onto the same chassis. That’s good news for budgeting a server approach—it means you can fit more equipment onto the same racks and cabinets, and will likely save both money and space. And for small businesses, this means utilizing an approach that will maximize space and will keep server equipment in a contained area and organized efficiently. Examples of this are small 6U-18U computer racks and wall racks.

3. Integration: A server rack can have all the promise of improved efficiency and performance, but it won’t be very effective if it doesn’t integrate seamlessly into your current equipment and component setup. In other words, be sure that any integration plans for the future are complimentary to your existing server configuration. The fact that new technologies are available is not reason enough for the investment. Timing plays a factor in integration too—you may want to wait until existing technologies are in sync with your business goals like expansion, reallocating office space, or even a move to a new location.

4. Cloud: This could be the biggest game changer of the bunch. Big data is only getting “bigger” in nearly every industry, and the number of data centers specializing in cloud server and storage needs is increasing by leaps and bounds each year. In fact, a number of vendors are anticipating building servers that are designed specifically for cloud computing use. If you don’t have a plan in place to integrate cloud computing into your business model, now is the time to figure out if a strategy is needed for the future and how that will impact your purchasing decisions.

These four trends in technology—disruption, density requirements, system integration, and cloud requirements—will be important levers in your server rack buying strategies in 2014. Work with your server vendor to create the best plan to meet your data center or small office requirements. For more information, contact TechRack Systems, info@techrack.com, or view our Website.