Spring cleaning can be hugely satisfying. The same is true while sprucing up your data centers. Data Center Dynamics reported that the number of requests for emergency data center cleaning spiked by 300% in 2015. Ignoring data center cleaning increases the risk of unplanned downtime and low performance in these ways:

  • Servers choked with dust can cause fan failures and result in overheating
  • Airborne contaminants can lead to component failure
  • Grimy cooling system filters will reduce the energy efficiency of your cooling system, requiring more power consumption to operate your data center and lowering your Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).

How many times have you wanted a data center cleaning schedule that everyone could follow? Every data center is different and should create its own cleaning standards based on the reliability needs of their business; but here’s a generic checklist to help you:

  1. Make a Data Center Cleaning Schedule

Scheduling routine cleaning of your data center can avoid emergency situations and unnecessary downtime. The sub-floor air space in your data center is critical in delivering pressurized cool clean air to your IT equipment.  It is very important to contain contaminates and prevent them from entering the air vents of your computer equipment and under floor fire alarm sensors.

  1. Clean All The Surfaces

It is imperative to regularly clean data center whitespace subfloor, floor tiles, IT equipment cabinets (top, interior cabinet doors) and drop ceiling if any. Data center subfloors should be cleaned at least once a year, more if your raised floor is used for air distribution. The equipment cabinets should be cleaned once every quarter.

  1. Change Filters In HVAC

Filter changes in your Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment should be done by your preventative maintenance program. Some data centers only schedule visits once a year. If that’s the case, then you should consider changing HVAC fans more frequently.

  1. No Unpacking

Do not use cardboard, wood, or paper products inside your data center as its contaminants can damage your equipment. Unpacking new server equipment should be done outside a data center.

  1. Check Levels of Airborne Contaminants

If you are concerned about airborne contaminants, a simple test sample airborne particulate levels can be done and compared to industry standard levels.

  1. Know the Equipment and Cleaning Products Being Used

The equipment and cleaning products that your data center cleaning crew uses are important. Ask them to submit information on the High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filter efficiency of their vacuum and the products/chemicals used to clean data center surfaces. 

Cleaning and maintenance of your data center can no doubt improve its efficiency and wipe off any avoidable stress of servers breaking down. Here’s what you can do to your data center layout to enhance performance, thereby reducing your overheads.

Basic Housekeeping For Data Centers

  • Server Optimization

Optimize your servers by consolidating/ getting rid of low performing ones. This helps with lowering operational costs.

  • Cable Madness 

You don’t want to feel like it’s a Halloween setting when you walk into a web of cables in a data center! Many a times you see cables everywhere; on the floor, hanging down from ceilings, looped over server racks and weaved through desks! This clearly is a disaster in waiting. The horror doesn’t end with a lawsuit if someone gets tangled, there is also the fear of data loss! Cable layout should be given the care it needs. Remember the adage, measure twice cut once? All you need to do is ensure your CAT5s and other cables are thought through, measured and hooked up accordingly. Rahi Systems has done the homework for you with customized pre-bundled and port-mapped cables to cut your labor costs by 50%. Our cables are easily scalable for your growing business.

  • Spills

Many employees enter the data center, drink/ food in hand and spill that onto/into equipment. That’s the end of that device with absolutely no chance for recovery. Post signs that say “No food/ drink allowed!” Ban even covered drinks.

  • Electricity

Electricity in the data center is its lifeline. If you do not design your electrical needs to prevent failures, your data center begins its life at a disadvantage. Make sure all circuit breakers and any other switch that could cause an accidental power loss have covers. Ensure your fire alarms and cutoff switches are hidden so they can’t be tampered with. This applies to nearly any electricity problem: accidentally shutting off power, lack of battery backups, no generator, pulling too much power from a single source. Use power management processes to harness energy waste.

  • Security Slips

Keep track of who has access to the data center. Have a system/ a spreadsheet in place of how many keys to your data center are given out and to who. Track everything possible: when was the exit door propped open to carry things inside/ outside, who all have the access to the security code etc.?

  • Documentation

Meticulous documentation of domain credentials and which server does what is imperative, especially if you’re about to head out for vacation and need to do a hand-off. This also helps in tracking inconsistencies that hinder agility.

  • Desktop Disaster

How many times have you caught yourself or the IT staff using one of the machines in the data center as a desktop? One time is all it takes to send a virus rampant through your data center. Why risk having that problem originate at the core of your network?

  • Pay A Visit

When was the last time you actually visited your data center? Everything cannot be remote. Stop in to check batteries, temperature, cabling, etc.

  • Work Smart

Whether it was a server rebuild or a downed data network, you’ve already spent long hours at work. The last thing you need to do is another long haul trying to fix something. Most likely you’ll break more things than you fix. Let the third-shift staff take care of the problem, or you solve the issue in phases. Staying locked in the data center for ‘as long as it takes,’ might not always work.

Your data center is your business’ central nervous system. As you know, contaminants in a data center can lead to overheating, corrosion damage, electrical and mechanical failure of disk and tape drives, power supplies and circuit boards.  Upkeep of your data center is critical to its long-term success and uninterrupted uptime.

Not sure where to start?  Let Rahi Systems help!  Contact us today to schedule your free data center assessment.


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