Everything you need to know about building a server room

Everything you need to know about building a server room

Data center downtime costs enterprises an average of $5,600 per minute.

The solution is to construct a server room that’s reliable, resilient, and built to last.

In this article, we’ll break down the step-by-step process you need to follow when building a practical server room and provide expert tips on managing it in the long term.

What is a server room, and why do you need one?

A server room is a designated area where companies store and manage computer servers — it’s the centralized hub that safeguards your entire IT infrastructure.

A server room helps: 

  • Securely store network equipment
  • Protect sensitive data from physical damage
  • Provide a centralized location for network resources

In-house vs outsourcing: What’s the best option for server rooms? 

Building a server room isn’t the only option for managing IT infrastructure. Many companies, such as Deer Stags, use a hosting solution instead.

If outsourcing is the right option for your business, consider partnering with a highly reputable company like Zomev.

We offer: 

  • Onsite security and level-3 technicians
  • Multiple UPS’s with N+1 redundancy
  • Tier-1 premium bandwidth

We’re a privately owned and operated hosting provider with core data centers in Miami, Arizona, and Amsterdam. Plus, we’re SSAE-22 and HIPAA compliant and committed to 24/7 customer service —  so if anything goes wrong, you know you always have someone to call.

H2: How to set up a server room (the right way)

To ensure you’re building your server room with the right foundations, allocate enough adequate time to planning to ensure proper setup. For instance, an expert can help you choose the right server room location that’s not prone to moisture, excessive heat, or improper ventilation to avoid pre-mature equipment erosion and costly repairs.

1. Determine how much space you’ll need

Your server room’s size will depend on your company’s specific needs and your equipment’s kilowatt (kW) load. Some organizations have specific requirements, such as the University of Kansas’ Lawrence Campus, that request hot and cold aisles that are wide enough to provide access to equipment.

There are also legal requirements to meet, which are outlined in local building codes and data privacy regulations that consider the security and privacy of server rooms.

You can estimate your space dimensions roughly using the ‘50–100 watts per square foot’ rule.

The space should also: 

  • Provide three feet of space between equipment racks
  • Include workspace areas
  • Leave room for growth

Your server room design will also impact the amount of space required. For instance, self-contained racks require less space than open-framed ones.

2. Decide on the right location

Choosing the right location for your server room impacts climate control; accessibility, security, and power supply.

Make sure the room has:  

  • Internet services nearby (copper, fiber, or both.)
  • Sturdy walls for mounting cabinets and ladders.
  • Raised floors suitable for ventilation and running cables underneath.
  • White walls.

Avoid a location with:

  • Roof drains or ductwork in a compromising position.
  • A bathroom or kitchen above the room that might cause leaks.
  • Unstable power supply.

3. Choose racks and cables

Racks and cabinets are essential for securely mounting servers and networking equipment.

There are four main types of server racks: open frame, self-contained, wall-mounted, and colocation.

Equipment you’ll need to organize and install your racks and cables:  

  • Rack rails.
  • Rack-mountable surge protectors.
  • Overhead cable ladder.
  • Fire-rate plywood to separate ‘fiddly bits’ from ‘production bits.’
  • Multi-colored cable packs, such as CAT5e.
  • Cable ties and testers.
  • Fiber optic cable management panels.
  • Velcro and J-hooks.
  • Punch down tools and cable strippers.

The number of racks and cables you’ll need depends on the room’s size and the number of people using the servers. Stick to at least one server rack per 100 staff.

4. Set up your power and backup systems

To ensure a reliable power supply, even during a power surge or power utility outages, set up a comprehensive power system and backup power generator.

You’ll need to: 

  • Choose a full-room uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system for backup power.
  • Install a circuit breaker.
  • Expand electrical capacity by installing an electrical sub-panel or two L6-30R circuits.
  • Use a high-performance storage device to back up data (NVMe SSDs would be ideal).

5. Install a cooling and dehumidifying system

Keeping the air cool and humidification levels low in a server room is vital to the longevity of the equipment. You’ll need a split-system air conditioner to keep the room between 64-80 degrees.

You’ll also need: 

  • Thermostats
  • Rope water leak sensors
  • Humidity sensors
  • Smoke alarms

6. Set up monitoring and security

Unauthorized access can compromise the security of your server room and add an extra layer of vulnerability. The best way to minimize this risk is to create a multilayer authentication system.

Your security system should also include: 

  • High-resolution CCTV surveillance cameras.
  • Motion and heat detection systems.
  • Biometric access controls, such as fingerprint scans.
  • Multi-factor authentication.
  • Real-time alerts and notifications.
  • Audible and silent alarm system for intruders and fires.

Only qualified security guards, IT professionals, and specific administrative staff can access the room to limit exposure.

When building your server room, consider more than your immediate needs, such as installing racks and cables. Also, consider investing in equipment that will ensure the longevity and security of your hardware over time, such as climate control measures and CCTV surveillance.

Top tips for managing a server room

While correctly setting up a server room is essential, it’s only the first step in establishing a reliable system. The next is maintenance.

Here’s what we recommend: 

  • Draw up a detailed map of the server room, including the placement of servers, networking equipment, power sources, and ventilation systems.
  • Use color-coded labels and velcro to organize cables.
  • Create an inventory list and document permanent gear.
  • Draft a disaster recovery plan.
  • Set and maintain a regular cleaning schedule to avoid dust and debris buildup.
  • Put a thermostat in the room to regularly check server room temperatures.

Invest in a server room that serves your business

The last thing you need is constant network disruptions or downtimes interrupting business operations or, even worse, resulting in a major data breach.

Instead of building and navigating a server room, partner with a premium hosting server solution like Zomev to get peace of mind. It means you’ll have a dedicated team of experts monitoring network performance and security 24/7, 365 days a year.

See Also: Experience Our for Free VPS Hosting: Enjoy a 30-Day Trial with Risk-Free Servers

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