Data Center Design & Cabling Best Practices
The early stages of data center design are critical. If you plan everything carefully and put the most thought into this stage, you could save yourself hours upon hours of headaches down the road. When you are designing your data center, cabling and network best practices must come into play before a single cable is laid. Otherwise, you may end up with overheating servers cluttered with data center spaghetti (cables everywhere with no rhyme or reason), not to mention increased costs where power, cooling, and performance are concerned. To avoid all of that, here are some of the best practices for data center network design and cabling.
Plan It VERY Carefully
As previously mentioned, before you plug in a single cable, you want to have the entire data center planned as much as possible. The more you plan, the less likely you are to end up with stretched or worn cables, server cooling issues, and other problems. There are plenty of mistakes that you can make when running network cable, so you want to make sure that you plan it out to avoid as many as you can.
Learn about all of the standards, codes, laws, and ordinances that you will need to follow, and map out where all of your cables, servers, and cooling equipment should go before you physically lay any groundwork. It’s also critical that you determine your wiring and cabling needs prior to purchasing or laying cable. You can also learn more able data center cabling best practices here.
When considering how to power a data center, you need to consider both power requirements and power redundancies. Power requirements do not just refer to the power needs of the servers themselves, but to the needs of the cooling systems and lighting as well. Consider how many power connections you’ll have available, how many servers will need power, and how much capacity your resources (facility, power company, etc.) have to power this equipment.
Then, determine how much redundancy you’ll need. A single power source offers no redundancy; if the power goes out, or the specific power source fails, your business data center will face downtime, and that costs you time and money. Make sure that redundancies are in place (in terms of power and other types of redundancy) to make sure your data center and business network keep running even when the unexpected happens.
Instituting hot and cold aisles are widely considered best practice when it comes to data center design. Linear server rack layouts tend to cause some servers to overheat and get damaged. The CRAC (computer room air conditioner) rests on one side of the room, and the racks are lined up in front of it. Each row sends back warmer and warmer air until the last few rows of servers end up with hot air that can cause overheating.
When you use hot and cold aisles, you create aisles where cold air gets pumped in and warm air gets pumped out. Servers on either side of the cold aisle face inwards to take in the cooler air, and the server exhausts face the hot aisles, where intake vents in a drop ceiling remove the hotter air as it rises. As a result, it takes a lot less energy to keep your server room at the right temperature. The better your data center’s energy efficiency is, the less it will cost you to run it.
It is also highly advisable to keep server racks open to maximize airflow. If you do choose to install doors on the server racks, you should make sure they are perforated (at least 65% open, if not more) to allow for easier airflow. Closed off server racks make the hot and cold aisles virtually irrelevant, as they are much more likely to overheat, and you risk damage to your servers and your data.
Label everything and practice good cable management. Keep patch cables short, color code your cables, and label everything, and we mean everything. Ports, cable ends, aisle numbers, devices, and grid locations should all have labels. When you’re organizing the server racks, don’t forget to keep the heaviest equipment at the bottom of your server racks, or else the rack will be more likely to tip over or collapse, creating a hazard for personnel and equipment alike.
All devices should be logged either digitally (preferred) or manually into a document that describes what they are, what they are used for, device specifications, software components, and location within the data center. This is where grid layouts are especially useful (and labeling grid locations within the data center makes it much easier for your IT professionals to find the needed hardware).
Keep It Flexible
Things change, and in the realms of technology and business, things are always changing. You want to make sure that your data center can change with the needs of your business or the availability of technology. New equipment may become available, new laws and regulations may be enacted, your business may need more redundancies or power requirements, or any number of other changes could take place.
Make sure to leave room and organize your data center to allow for easy access to cables and devices, making it easier to remove obsolete hardware and replace it with newer equipment. If you’re using subfloor plenums or ceiling plenums (which is recommended), make sure they are made of cast aluminum tiles, which are strong enough to handle the additional equipment you may need in the future. By maintaining a flexible plan that can accommodate changes, a shift in data center needs won’t warrant a complete redesign, which means less downtime when changes do have to be made.
Get It Done Right: Call in the Experts
A great deal of time, expertise, and knowledge goes into designing a data center. There is clearly a lot to keep track of, including a number of best practices for data center and network design. You can make sure it all gets done right the first time by calling in the experts at C1C. We know data centers and network installation, and we’ll get the job done in your time frame and within your budget. For a free consultation, call 855-TECH-C1C (855-832-4212) or fill out our online form and one of our knowledgeable professionals will be in touch!