Common Data Center Mistakes You May Be Overlooking

You are more than aware of the importance of your data center. You understand that if things go wrong there, things can be become chaotic everywhere. But are you making – or allowing others to make – data center mistakes that although easily avoided are still lurking in your server rooms waiting to unleash havoc?

Not sure? Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes.

Illicit Liquids

This should be a no brainer, and yet it’s not that unusual -if they were to be honest – that someone sneaks themselves a soda while working – or even just briefly visiting – the average data center. They are going to be careful, and as they are nowhere near the servers nothing can go wrong. Three hours without a drink is a long time, and they’re sure this is how long this job is going to take.

However, the reality is that all it often takes is one drop of liquid on the wrong piece of hardware and the happy hum of a lively server can become the terrifying static silence of a dead one in seconds. So make no liquids EVER – and no food – a golden rule, with tangible punishments for violators, however thirsty they were (that having been said ensure that all of your employees do get their proper refreshment breaks as well.)

Creeping Cardboard

In the 21st century data – and the infrastructures holding it – are the life-blood of companies of all sizes. And if servers are the heart of the system then cardboard is the bad cholesterol, especially if allowed to build up until there is a fatal blockage.

The obvious reason to ban cardboard from the data center is its combustibility and the fire hazard it creates. But there is more to it than that. Over time, cardboard disintegrates and sheds, and as it does these minute particles migrate into server fans, reducing their ability to provide the essential airflow needed to keep all of that vital equipment cool.

This inefficiency results directly into using more energy and an increased potential for catastrophic failure. To prevent creeping cardboard un-box equipment outside of the data center and store everything that needs to be stored there in plastic boxes.

Cable Spaghetti

Often, the average data center grows surprisingly quickly as the company it serves does and technology it contains becomes more complicated. In fact it is very easy to go from a simple setup to quadruple your original cable count with only a few expansions. And if you do not have structured cabling one of the most dreaded afflictions of any data center – cable spaghetti – creeps up very quickly. 

Structured cabling and proper cable management keeps everything organized and easily traceable, which means that new girl Becky can replace that patch cable without risk of getting caught up in the flying spaghetti monster of cables; resulting in bringing down your network or even herself in an HR nightmare. The benefits of these tactics speak for themselves every time in the sheer amount of risk mitigated.

Haphazard Security

You have locks on your server room. Well done, that’s a great idea. But data center security should extend beyond that. Security isn’t just where you put your servers, it’s also who has access to them. Too often permission is given out without thought towards documentation or even why that person needs access. How many keys are there? Who has them? Why do they have them? These are all questions that can help to address the issue of security and close the gaps that may be hiding just out of sight. An even better idea? A formal access management system that tightens the reins of control over just who – and who isn’t – supposed to have access to your vital data operations at any given time.