Caznet has a presence in six Adelaide data centres. These facilities and the hardware we install in them host our own Private Cloud, Core Network and VoIP infrastructure as well as customers in the Small to Medium Business sector through to Corporate and Education clients. All those installs have taught us a few valuable lessons about what we should (and absolutely should not) do when installing equipment.
Here are our top 6 rules to live by in the data centre:
1. Plan it out first
Once your kit is in and running you may never have the opportunity to shut it down and make changes. After all, you put this equipment into the data centre because you need to keep it running!
There are some great tools out there that can help you visually plan your rack layout. We use Microsoft Visio which has inbuilt stencils and tooling for this exact purpose. It allows us to decide where to put servers, switches, blank space, and storage before we are faced with physically installing it.
It is worth keeping in mind that unless you want to completely pull down your rack and start again, it is quite possible that some of the equipment you install will be in the same place for its entire lifetime. Any changes you need to make will have to be done around your in-production equipment.
It is also worth making space for future expansion now, not when it is too late.
2. Rack it properly
“The future depends on what you do today.” – Mahatma Gandhi
A few years ago, a bit of routine maintenance in one of our data centre PoP’s turned into a heart stopping moment that our team will never forget. We were removing a server to change out the motherboard and then this happened:
This in-production, critical SAN had been sitting on a shelf that had not been screwed into the rack frame. It had been this way for years. Through what can only be explained as the grace of the data centre Gods, the edge of the SAN caught the edge of the shelf and it stayed put. Saved by mere millimetres of steel.
The lesson here is… install all your devices, cables, and peripherals properly. One by one, as they go into the rack. Do not leave anything until later. You never know what you might forget to come back to.
3. Use RackStuds™
Anyone who has racked up servers or networking equipment, whether it be in the data centre or an on-premises server room, will know the pain (both physical and emotional) of trying to install those little metal rack nuts. You will either pop it in nice and easy first shot, slice open your fingertip in the process or lose the nut in the bottom of the rack never to be seen again!
A few years ago, we discovered RackStuds™. These things are a God send. They are made of plastic, push in from the front of the rack making them easy to install, can hold up to 20 kg and do not require a screwdriver.
You can learn more about them here: https://www.rackstuds.com/
Trust us, your mental health and fingertips will thank you for it!
4. Colour coding and labelling will save you pain
Never underestimate the value of labels and colour coding!
We like to colour code our power cables by ensuring all the leads from equipment to the A-Side power rail are one colour and the B-Side rail are another. This simple trick makes it easy to see if you have accidentally connected both power supplies to the same rail. When it comes to fibre – multi-mode (blue) within the rack and single-mode (yellow) for anything that leaves the rack.
By placing a label at both ends of all your cables (power, data, fibre, etc), you can be confident when you need to unplug something that you’ve got the right cable without having to trace it through the rack.
Labels on the front and back of servers, routers, and switches which include the device name and possibly its IP address will save you time down the road.
5. Do not cram it in
We know as well as anyone that data centre space is expensive. However, if you fill your rack top to bottom and front to back, you will not have any room to move later. The slightest adjustment, basic maintenance, replacing equipment and cable management will all become painfully impossible tasks. It will also lead to problems with power budgets, poor air flow and heat dissipation.
Ensuring that your equipment is spaced correctly and cables are clear of the air intakes and exhausts will allow for clean air flow through your equipment from the cold aisle to the hot isle. Mounting your devices, particularly switches and routers, so that air always flows in the right direction is crucial. These things will not only assist in maintaining a good operating environment in the DC, but they will also improve the longevity of your equipment.
We like to keep our racks at no more than 75% full, and preferably around 50%.
6. Configure your out-of-band management
Its 2 AM. You have just installed some updates on a server, and it needs a reboot. The moment your finger comes up off the keyboard you realise what you have done – you shut it down by accident. Now you are in the car racing to the data centre to power it back up before things get worse.
What was your mistake? You didn’t have the ability to login to your devices using out-of-band management such as a Dell iDRAC or HP iLO because you either didn’t configure it ahead of time or simply didn’t splash the extra cash to include it in the purchase.
Make sure all your servers include remote access cards and you have an alternative network path (such as 4G and a VPN) to access your kit remotely. Even more importantly – configure them!
Caznet provides data centre co-location and hosting services within purpose-built data centres in Adelaide including the only Australian data centre certified to TIA-942 Rated-3 (formerly Tier 3). We are on-net in the best and most strategic data centres in South Australia.