1. Location, location, location.
Determining the location of the server room within the building is the first consideration. Most IT professionals agree that the room should not be constructed against exterior walls of the building, which are often damp. Furthermore, exterior windows are susceptible to being blown in or out by storm winds.
2. Size does matter.
While it’s much easier to plan for an organization’s current needs than to project growth, failing to factor expansion into the initial design is likely to cause problems down the road. Although projecting growth is often highly speculative, enterprise architects recommend planning five years out with a growth rate of 20 percent per year.
3. Seek higher ground.
The flooding threat posed by basement-level server rooms was underscored by the extensive damage suffered by many facilities when Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast. For this reason, do not locate your server room in the basement. Instead, seek a higher and more central location that will not only alleviate flooding concerns but can also help minimize cable run distribution.
4. Avoid waterworks.
Unexpected storm flooding isn’t the only water threat for server rooms. Never back your space up to a “wet wall” containing any pipes or plumbing, as breaks or leaks can cause significant equipment damage.
5. Keep cool.
Make sure your server room is temperature-controlled. It is generally recommended that temperature inside a rack doesn’t exceed 23°C (73°F). Sensors are best located in the server racks rather than in the room since ambient temperature will rise at a slower pace compared to the temperature in the rack. Humidity also poses a great risk to equipment. Relative Humidity (rH) is server rooms should remain around 50% with a ±10% margin.
6. Play it safe.
Don’t overlook security concerns. If possible, construct your server room with no external entry points (windows or additional doors) and make sure it remains under lock and key.
7. Have an exit strategy.
Don’t assume you’ll never need to remove or replace any equipment. Installing a regular-size door can make maintenance a nightmare. Be sure the doorway will allow equipment and LAN cabinets to enter without having to remove the door or frames. A 42-inch-wide by 84-inch-tall door should accommodate most requirements.
8. Get fired up.
While it’s likely that the building surrounding the server room is equipped with a fire detection and sprinkler system, the room itself should have its own protection that utilizes an alternative such as a clean agent system — which extinguish fires by removing heat — or inert gases, which essentially suffocate the fire by depriving it of oxygen.
9. Leave some breathing room.
Room for expansion isn’t the only space consideration. If possible, allocate space both in front of and behind racks for easy maintenance access.
10. Divide and conquer.
Whenever possible, keep your server room’s power supply and climate controls separate from the rest of the office space.