5 Common Mistakes In The Data Center
Everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes, but depending on where you are those mistakes can be costly. The wide world of Data Centers is filled with gaffs and whoopses. Let’s take a look at five common mistakes in an effort to curtail bad behavior – our own included.
We’re looking at you, Coca-Cola, your commercial may have a good message, but everyone with an IT background instantly flinched the moment that bottle hit the top of the server. Then came the great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of IT voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. Open topped or closed topped; liquid (and food while we’re at it) doesn’t belong on the server room floor. It only takes one drop on the wrong piece to go from the happy hum of life to the static silence of a dead server. No liquids. Ever.
Data and the infrastructure holding it are the life-blood of many companies – small and large. If servers are the ever-beating hearts, then cardboard is the bad kind of cholesterol; slowly building up until there’s a fatal clog. That’s right, while most data centers cite combustibility and fire hazard as the reason to ban cardboard, they’re only telling half of the story. The other part is that cardboard is infamous for shedding particulates and dusty-matter. This miniscule terror can get into the fans of servers, clogging up the essential airflow that keeps equipment cool. This translates directly into using more energy, more cooling and having the potential for catastrophic failure. Keep the floor clean, un-box equipment outside of the data center proper or invest in re-usable plastic boxes.
Data center security ranges from none to Fort Knox-like fortifications, but security isn’t just where you put your servers, it’s also who has access to them. Too often permission is given out without thought towards documentation (something we’ll get too shortly), or even why that person needs access. How many keys are there? Who has them? Why do they have them? These are all questions that can help to address the issue of security and close the gaps that may be hiding just out of sight. The more control a data center manager has over who gets into the cage, the better!
No one likes a messy home, and the data center is where your mission-critical data is living! It’s easy to go from a simplistic setup to quadrupling your cable count with only a few expansions. Cable management keeps things organized and easily traceable, which means that Intern Bob can replace that patch cable without risk of getting caught up in the flying spaghetti monster of cables; resulting in bringing down your network or even himself in an HR nightmare. Zip-ties and Velcro are the preferred methods of bundling cables in like groups and keeping them out of the way. The benefits speak for themselves in the sheer amount of risk mitigated. Besides, no one wants the big boss to show up and suddenly find themselves wishing for an extra day to tidy up.
It’s been touched on briefly already, but it stands repeating. Document. Document. Document. Documenting is for every part of the data center. Spreadsheets filled with port numbers and elevations may seem intimidating but they’re essential to keeping track of everything about your data center. Silverback recommends using Google Docs or another similar shared document utility that allows multiple people to view and selected persons to edit. Whether it’s the access list, the elevation layout, the port map,a or the maintenance schedule – there is no such thing as a useless piece of documentation in the data center.