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Data Center Best Practices Checklist

Our data center best practices checklist will provide you with the tools you need to maintain your availability and your networking equipment. Data center operations best practices include cable management, power management, temperature control, rack layout and maintenance.

Following best practices will not only maximize your uptime and keep your equipment running; it will also improve efficiency, which will free you up to focus fully on servicing your clients and customers.

What are data center best practices? And why are they important?

You’re likely looking up data center best practices because you’re interested in improving the efficiency of your data center. Maybe your electric bill is too high. Or maybe your data center is cluttered and you have no space for adding equipment. You may even be having trouble regulating the temperature in your data center, and it’s causing problems with your equipment. Adhering to data center best practices will solve many operational problems and ensure your data center is running at peak efficiency.

In fact, following a data center best practices checklist may even save you money. A more efficient data center means less power usage, fewer equipment problems and maximum hardware performance.

Additionally, best practices help create a safe environment, as electrical fires are always a concern in any high-density networking environment. But by following data center fire protection best practices, you can reduce the odds of accidents occurring, protecting your equipment and your employees.

Data Center Operations and Maintenance Best Practices

 

Cable management, power management, cooling and humidity, rack layout, and equipment maintenance are among the most important, but also some of the simplest, data center best practices. Below are guidelines related to each of those practices, ensuring maximum operational efficiency.

Cable Management Best Practices

One of the most important data center cabling best practices is to plan ahead for growth. You want to leave enough space for growth to occur, but you also don’t want to hurt your efficiency. Most companies do well to allow for 50 percent growth down the road. And as you grow, you’ll want to keep all your connectors and cables up to date to reduce the risk of any failures that could result in downtime.

Another data center cable management best practice is organization. You need to be able to access the cables quickly and easily. And with a gridded design, you should be able to access all cables at any time.

Furthermore, keeping track of your cables is essential. By color coding and labeling each cable, you’ll always know where everything is and can document that information for all employees to use.

Don’t forget to take cable interference into consideration. With fiber optic cables, this often isn’t a big problem. However, copper cables are more prone to causing interference — especially in tight quarters. With these cables, you must have the appropriate shielding and space to mitigate potential problems.

And finally, a cost-saving best practice. Hangers will save money and reduce headaches down the road. Install them upfront to avoid having to do it down the road. Installing — and reinstalling — cable can be expensive, so if you can avoid having to re-do it down the road, it’ll save you time and money.

Power Management Best Practices

Managing power is one of the key data center operational efficiency best practices. Powering a data center is not cheap, so it’s important you do everything you can to limit power consumption.

One of the simplest things you can do to abide by data center power distribution best practices is to update your equipment. Updated networking equipment tends to be more power efficient than older equipment, and provides higher output while using less power. If you’re concerned about how much power your network consumes, talk to one of our sales representatives about more efficient options.

Data center energy efficiency best practices also include emergency power. What will your data center do when the power is out? Having a backup power solution is paramount to maintaining availability.

Finally, we’d be remiss not to mention sustainability as part of data center power management best practices. If sustainability is something your business values, reducing power consumption should be at the top of your list to tackle. Buying more efficient equipment is the quickest solution; but there are other things you can do — like moving to a more power-friendly location or — to reduce it.

Cooling and Humidity Best Practices

Data center cooling best practices are extremely important — for a multitude of reasons.

All networking equipment must be housed at appropriate temperatures and in proper humidity levels.

To adhere to data center temperature and humidity best practice, be sure to abide by all guidelines included with the equipment you purchase. If you’re concerned that’s not enough, you can always hire a professional to come and audit your data center and provide feedback on your current conditions.

Generally, most data centers keep server rooms at a cool — but not too cool — 70 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend placing equipment that’s more susceptible to overheating closer to the air ducts. You can also use barriers and paneling to direct the airflow wherever sensitive equipment is located.

Just as important as cooling are data center humidity best practices. You not only need to keep a data center cool; you also need to keep the humidity down — ideally between 40 and 60 percent.

Rack Layout Best Practices

Organizing data center racks may seem straightforward, but there are some data center rack layout best practices that will help reduce the odds of equipment overheating and help it run at peak efficiency.

First off, older networking equipment may be more susceptible to overheating. If you’re concerned about particular pieces of equipment, leave some space around those devices on the server racks to help regulate the temperature. The same things goes for potential hot spots — areas within a server rack you’ve identified as being susceptible to overheating. Make sure to leave adequate space there too.

Another data center cabinet best practice is to use fan trays, where necessary. These will help move hot air away from the server racks. Consider utilizing fan trays on racks that house devices that get particularly hot or are located further away from air ducts, where the temperature may be a bit higher.

Cleaning and Maintenance Best Practices

Last, but not least, are data center preventive maintenance best practices. Abiding by these best practices will help maximize the life of all your networking equipment and reduce the chances of something breaking, which may even prevent downtime in the long term.

First and foremost, there should never be any food or drink in the data center. This is an easy rule to implement and will save you from the massive headache that is water damage. If you’re concerned about particular employees following the rule, you can even limit access to the server rooms.

Data center maintenance best practices include a regular cleaning schedule to remove all the dust and debris that accumulates. According to data center cleaning best practices, you should deep clean the entire data center every quarter, at least. In addition, we recommend regularly testing equipment to make sure it’s operating properly. That way, if there are any issues, you can catch them early and start the repair process before irreparable damage occurs and you have to buy replacement equipment.

How To Improve Your Data Center’s Operational Efficiency

 

In addition to following our data center best practices checklist, you want to make sure your company is doing everything possible to improve its operational efficiency. To do this, you should consider having your data center audited, moving to a better location and even purchasing up-to-date equipment.

Have Your Data Center Audited

A data center audit will show what is working and what is not. Many audit programs will also offer training for employees to help further prevent problems. Because data center audits can be expensive and take up time, it’s important you audit only necessary items.

With a security audit, you ensure the network is secured and breaches are prevented. The access control audit checks authentication processes and handles the screening of employees. You can also get a power or energy efficiency audit to guarantee you are saving power wherever possible.

The asset audit looks at the current equipment to ensure there is no room for change. You can also get a design audit to ensure you are using the appropriate racks and floorplan. Finally, there are  standards-compliance audits that look at special rules, such as PCI, HIPPA or Sarbanes-Oxley.

Move To a Better Location

After performing an audit, you may find that moving the data center to a new location is the best course of action. In many ways, data center migration can help you save money. Sure, the initial cost might be a lot, but by moving to an energy-efficient, well-run location, you can make this money back very quickly.

Additionally, a new location can offer better security. Whether you move to a modern facility or you transfer your data to the cloud, you might be able to utilize better security measures.

You may also find that your current data center location doesn’t provide the space needed to operate efficiently. If you don’t have the room to expand or you find that the current location isn’t power or cooling efficient, it may be best to migrate data center locations.

Upgrade Your Equipment

Upgrading networking equipment is one of the quickest ways to improve your data center’s operational efficiency. Older equipment is less efficient and risk-averse. Newer hardware will provide a quick boost to your energy efficiency, improve overall performance, and provide greater long-term reliability.

Additionally, older equipment typically requires more maintenance and frequent repairs, and that can be costly. There’s a much lower chance of hardware failing earlier in its life cycle.

Not only that, but newer technology ensures better compatibility. You can even develop a more flexible network when you upgrade equipment, and plan for the future by purchasing more scalable hardware.

Work With a Networking Hardware Vendor That Specializes in Data Centers

We understand that this comprehensive data center best practices checklist is a lot to take in. Fortunately, the experts at BrightStar Systems are trained to help you make good decisions.

As an experienced networking vendor, our team understands which equipment most closely aligns with your long-term goals and plans. With our selection of Juniper, Cisco and Arista networking equipment, we have the hardware you’re looking for, and we offer the best prices on pre-owned hardware.

We can also buy your used networking equipment. By selling your pre-owned networking equipment to us, you can gain a return on your initial investment, making it easier to afford an upgrade. Plus, our team will handle the shipping, including freight shipping for large orders, and test everything that is sent.

While there are other companies online to buy from, there are none quite like BrightStar Systems. All networking hardware sold by us comes with a 1-Year In-House Warranty. Plus, our shipments are professionally packaged, using only top-quality packing materials. After working with us, you will understand why data centers around the world choose to partner with us for networking needs.

Request a free quote today for equipment you’re looking to buy or sell.