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Windows servers and storage

Planning your inside

server room
3 E
4 S
 erver room
6 P
Server installations
7 Growth
of all sizes can 8 Technology
benefit from a and standards
dedicated server 11  dditional
room. Proper
planning must
include more than
simply equipment
and space.

revised, 06/2009 Planning your server room

chapter 2: Planning your server room

ou must consider the physical aspects which varies by country. A dedicated room with
of server installation. These include the specialized air conditioning can easily handle
reasons for having a dedicated server room, the substantial thermal burden imposed by such
what a server room should contain, envi- a server configuration. A dedicated room also
ronmental considerations, planning a server makes access control straightforward. By requir-
room, an installation checklist and what ing electronic badges, you can restrict access and
makes an installation efficient. keep an accurate log of who has entered the room
Even a small server installation can benefit from and who has left.
a dedicated room. Small servers can impose an A dedicated server room generally will contain
intolerable noise and thermal burden in an ordi- not only the server itself, but also disks, backup
nary office environment, while serious security devices, interfacing cables, spare disks, blades,
concerns may arise from an unprotected server peripheral cards, fans and other equipment. Al-
that’s easily accessible to individuals. though server administration can be performed
A large server configuration will quickly exceed remotely, it makes sense to have a local console
both the tolerable noise level in an office environ- in the server room, so administrators can perform
ment and the regulatory limits allowed for noise, on-site maintenance and administration.


Cover | Contents Environment Geography Planning Growth Standards Planning your server room

Environmental factors
the server room must be large enough to hold not only the server Make sure that the
equipment, it should also allow you to rearrange equipment as
needed, including adjustments in air conditioning and electrical power supporting
power. The room should also be able to accommodate replacement the server room is
equipment, such as extra logic cards, fans, disks and unused backup
tape cartridges. sufficient enough to
handle today’s usage
Underestimating these re- ups should be stored offsite in
quirements could force you to fire-resistant spaces. and future server
move a server installation to a Make sure that the power growth. Don’t scrimp
new room—a serious disruption supporting the server room
in service. That move also gen- is sufficient enough to handle when outfitting the
erates direct costs of acquiring, today’s usage and future server server room.
constructing and provisioning growth. It is foolish to scrimp
the new server room. Indirect when properly outfitting the
costs also arise when inad- server room. Allow for sufficient
equate computer or storage lighting and multiple electri-
restricts the company’s ability cal outlets. Doing this correctly building cleanliness, which may
to work efficiently and respond facilitates maintenance and involve installing air filters.
effectively to competitors. enhancements.
Note: Backup storage devices It may be necessary to equip
should not be stored in the the server room with dedicated
server room. A fire could dam- air conditioning to keep
age both the hardware and the equipment from overheating.
backups, rendering the whole In addition, server equipment is
backup exercise useless. Back- sensitive to air quality. Ensure

Cover | Contents Environment Geography Planning Growth Standards Planning your server room

Server room geography
quality electrical supply:
when a server is intended to support geographically dispersed users, Consider the power supply’s
you’re faced with the question of where to place the system. Consider failure rate, the frequency
the following points: of micro-outages and the
frequency of over-voltage or
space: You need enough room such as floods, earthquakes, under-voltage.
to house the equipment and volcanic eruptions or lightning.
allow for future additions of Such phenomena can interrupt spare equipment: You have
hardware. the supply of electrical power to decide if storage of spare
to the site. equipment should be on-site or
noise: Equipment may be nearby, so it is readily available
too loud to place near a work local support availability: in case of managed failures
environment. You should be able to get (i.e., data replication and
support easily from both the backup servers).
mechanical vibration: Some equipment suppliers and
candidate sites, such as those internal resources. Naturally, real-world decisions
in or near large industrial fac- require some compromise, so
tories, can suffer vibrations communications availa- it is good practice to revisit the
beyond what the system is de- bility: You must be able to data and your decisions on a
signed to handle. If you believe expand your network capabili- fairly regular basis. The envi-
this is a risk, measure vibration ties to ensure the right levels ronment may undergo changes
amplitudes and spectra, and of performance—bandwidth, that make you question earlier
plan accordingly. latency and uptime. You’ll also decisions, resulting in a need to
want to ensure you can main- analyze the potential benefits,
environmental risks: A server tain costs such as connection risks and costs of moving to a
room should not be located in a costs and communications different site.
place prone to natural disasters, tariff structures.

Cover | Contents Environment Geography Planning Growth Standards
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Server room planning checklist
The importance of this review
Use this checklist when choosing and equipping a server room. process cannot be stressed
enough. It is rare for any server
1 List the factors to consider when choosing a site for the server installation—particularly if it’s
room. the first for a company—to
proceed without problems. The
2 Choose the site. review process allows you to
analyze the system on a daily
3 Define the equipment to be installed, including power, air basis and evaluate proposed
conditioning and air filtration. improvements and fixes.
Don’t let the phrase “formal
4 Determine how you will secure access to the room, such as review” scare you. This is not to
electronic badges with a logging system. propose a complex bureaucratic
process with a specialized audit
5 Create an implementation plan, approve budgets, choose suppliers team. Instead, a simple process
and sign contractual agreements. tuned to the size and capabili-
ties of the system can measure
6 Ensure that work is completed on schedule and to appropriate and review certain operational
standards. characteristics. You can even
provide a “suggestion box”
7 Create an installation plan for server room equipment. where users and operations
Have equipment delivered and installed. staff can record their experienc-
es and make suggestions. This
8 Qualify the room and equipment before starting operation. provides an excellent source of
feedback and can lead to useful
9 Set up a formal review process to periodically check on-site improvements in service and
operation. operational practices.

Cover | Contents Environment Geography Planning Growth Standards Planning your server room

In the end, it is possible Planning for growth
that the audit resulting from
the formal review process t h e r e a r e t w o cases to plements or replaces existing
may lead you to question your consider when planning system systems, the situation is sim-
original decisions. The question growth: You are installing your pler because you are working
then becomes whether to fix first system or you are enhanc- with a history of requirement
the problems or move to a ing an existing one. needs, configuration enhance-
new site. If you are managing a first- ments and enhancement ef-
time installation, there is no fectiveness. This makes it fairly
historical data available to straightforward to estimate the
guide estimates of future needs. path of future requirements for
Furthermore, it is often the case at least one to two years out.
that installing the first server in In planning for the future,
an organization or department don’t depend purely on tech-
Installing the first server leads users to realize that they nological advances. While it is
will need new services and certainly true that silicon and
in an organization leads capabilities. hard-disk technologies improve
users to realize that they That recognition in turn substantially year after year,
leads to unforeseen demands it wouldn’t be wise to rely on
need new services and for increased server capability these advances to provide for
capabilities. in data handling capacity and future needs. Look at these
data storage. Under these technological leaps to provide
circumstances, it’s not at all a combination of budget relief
unusual to see demand for and modest performance and
processing capability and capacity headroom.
storage double in the first 18
When the new server com-

Cover | Contents Environment Geography Planning Growth Standards Planning your server room

Technology evolution and standards contain this risk, organizations
should consider establishing a
hardware technology An example of the dynamics regular market and technology
advances in the IT universe of real-world standards is the review. Of course, doing this
have grown exponentially near-universal adoption of internally requires company
over the past few decades, TCP/IP, despite a different set resources. Doing it indirectly
although the rate has slowed of proposals created by indus- by relying on external analysts
considerably in the silicon try experts and promulgated can be cheaper, but it presents
domain. This has a substantial by the International Standards another risk because such ana-
effect on standards. Organization (ISO). Of course, lysts can be influenced by fads
some international standards and hype.
There are two types of stan- simply cast into de jure form The phenomenon of technol-
dards: de jure and de facto. some widely accepted de facto ogy evolution follows estab-
de jure standards, agreed upon standards. This transition, lished patterns. In addition,
and published by appropriate however, has no effect on the Gartner Research Inc., a Stam-
international standards’ bod- industry. ford, Conn.-based IT research
ies, may be the rule in some The presence of both de facto and advisory firm, informally
domains. But data process- and de jure standards makes captured the marketplace hype
ing is dominated by de facto decisions even more difficult,
standards, which are driven by leaving it up to managers to
market realities. choose from options offered by Well-established
The introduction of success- competing companies, none of standards offer
ful products that met a market which have a dominant position
need and were accepted by in the marketplace.
stability. Emerging
buyers shape de facto stan- Well-established standards standards represent
dards. Factors involved in this offer stability, but emerging both business and
include cost and the influence standards represent a business
of the products’ creators. and technology risk. To help
technology risks.

Cover | Contents Environment Geography Planning Growth Standards Planning your server room

derived from this phenomenon. Technology lifecycle
All technologies live through
a lifecycle. In the first phase, New The technology has Technology becomes
concepts potential and players mainstream
innovation, many players (often emerge invest further into it
startups) will develop a new
technology. If the marketplace
accepts the technology, further

effort is expended to improve
and stabilize it. At this stage,
the number of companies of-
fering the new technology will
decrease. Startups will either
prosper or be absorbed into Innovation Expansion Dispersion
more established firms. This is
the expansion phase. TIME
Once the technology be-
comes mainstream, it enters
into a dispersion phase, in technology is in. During the in- such as cost or performance.
which manufacturers further novation phase, risks are high; There is another dimension
reduce in number, and techno- it is generally best to avoid to new technologies: how the
logical innovations decrease. selecting such technologies at technology is perceived, rather
The technology lifecycle dia- all. During the expansion phase, than its capabilities. In the chart
gram illustrates this process. there are fewer vendor choices, on page 10, Gartner captures
As an IT manager or admin- but poses lower risk than during the dynamics of technology
istrator, you must decide which innovation. By using business perception with its hype cycle.
technologies to embrace and knowledge to choose one sup- The moment a technology
when. To do so, you need to plier, you can gain—at reason- begins to show some potential,
understand which phase the able risk—advantages in areas it becomes an area of interest

Cover | Contents Environment Geography Planning Growth Standards Planning your server room

to the marketplace, analysts Hype cycle
and investors. The varying in- Peak of inflated
terests of these parties, coupled expectations
with the desire to make sub-

technology potential
stantial money, drives a phased

Perception of the
sequence of perceptions for a
Plateau of
The first phase is the ability productivity
to demonstrate some techno- Slope of
logical capabilities—technology
trigger. Demonstrations are Trough of
often no more than laboratory disillusionment
experiments, with limits in how Technology
widely they can be applied and
how long the machinery re- TIME
mains operational.
Observers tend to take the
minimal results and extrapolate become bruited about, and the productivity, where it is consid-
enthusiastically to future possi- technology perception slumps ered a commodity and accepted
bilities, driving the perception of into the trough of disillusionment. everywhere.
the technology into the second If the technology has merit, Looking at the technology
phase—peak of inflated expecta- it will persevere and slowly lifecycle shows why it is so im-
tions. This phase leads to wide- rise up through the traditional portant for decision makers to
spread passion and enormous technology cycle with its per- separate hype from reality.
investments. As early adopters ception progressing through
enthused by the expectations the slope of enlightenment as
use the nascent technology, it becomes accepted. It then
shortfalls are noted; these finally reaches the plateau of

Cover | Contents Environment Geography Planning Growth Standards Planning your server room

about the authors:
additional resources rené j. chevance has written numerous
papers and the book, Server Architectures—
Multi-processors, Clusters, Parallel Systems,
• Data center construction runbook, Matt Stansberry Web Servers, Storage Solutions. He taught
computer science for 20 years at the
and Karim Khan, University of Paris. He is an independent
consultant in information system
architecture and system integration,
• How to design a server room, Bernie Klinder hardware and software technologies,
system performance and high availability
• For more information on Windows server management, check out systems., the Web’s best resource pete wilson is chief scientist at Kiva
Design, a small consulting firm and
for Windows server professionals. research company focusing on issues
surrounding the move to multi-core
computer platforms. Prior to Kiva, he
spent seven years at Motorola/Freescale.

technical editors:
danielle ruest and nelson ruest
are IT professionals specializing in systems
administration, migration planning,
software management and architecture
designs. Danielle is a Microsoft MVP in
Virtualization and Nelson is a Microsoft
MVP in Windows Server Failover
Clustering. They are authors of multiple
Cathleen Gagne, Editorial Director, books, including the Windows Server 2008,
Brendan Cournoyer, Site Editor, The Complete Reference for McGraw Hill
Michelle Boisvert, Features Editor, Osborne and MCITP Self-Paced Training
Martha Moore, Copy Editor, Kit (Exam 70-238): Deploying Messaging
Linda Koury, Art Director of Digital Content, Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server
Jonathan Brown, Publisher, 2007 for MS Press. Their upcoming book,
Peter Larkin, Senior Director of Sales, Virtualization: A Beginner’s Guide, will be
published by McGraw Hill Osborne.
TechTarget, 117 Kendrick Street, Needham, MA 02494;

Cover | Contents Environment Geography Planning Growth Standards
oes DELL Beat HP at Delivering Simplified IT Management?

Total cost of ownership (TCO) of Dell PowerEdge M710 and HP Proliant BL685c G5 blade solutions.

Implementing Best Practices: The Dell Management Console and ITIL

Dell Inc. Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) listens to customers and delivers innovative technology and services
they trust and value. Uniquely enabled by its direct business model, Dell is a leading global systems and
services company and No. 25 on the Fortune 500. Dell’s storage portfolio—including Dell PowerVaultTM,
Dell/EMC storage and professional services—scales from simple tape backup to complex storage solutions.


Cover | Contents Environment Geography Planning Growth Standards