[Offtopic] School server rooms

Stephen Loosley stephen at melbpc.org.au
Fri Dec 8 00:50:18 EST 2006

Hi all,

A good question, and six fine replies today ..

Q: They are building a new school, and with that i am getting a new server room!!!  What are the must have's for a techies room. I should be getting benches right round the room, with power and LAN ports.That's the basics, what else should i ask for???

1. Make sure they put the data points and power points above the bench tops. Had a new server room built at one of my schools last year when I wasn’t there and they put all the points under the bench

2. Quick thoughts about new server room.  If i have choice, I would have Tech enviroment as below:
A)  tech office with bench space and shelves. Bench height will be for you comfortably work on your computers. Bench around the wall of the whole tech office room. Shelves for books, CDs, and small items. Where is server go?  It's a bit too much for about 30 kg servers to sit on shelves. I have servers sit on self made stand, off floor. We gain a lot of bench space. Only LCD Monitors sit on Bench. With KVM help, 4 LCDs link to about 7 Machines including a mini test system. One of the room I work in is the IT teacher office. Many people walk in and out the room, servers gain quite a lot dust as time pass. Another place is just for IT techs so servers are much better.
B) If your school can afford, you could have a adjacent cool room only for servers with glass wall which you can see through.  All the servers are fixed on rack. Rack is in the middle of cool room. If necessary, you can check back of server easily. I  A lot of place, tech try to squeeze into the gap to see the connections at back of servers and switches / router.  6 years ago, I ever experienced to crawl  on carpet to work on  look Monitor screen at one of my school. After my suggestion, AP lifted the Monitor to higher sliding board. To be able to access back of cable cabinet is so important for service person. Whenever I can, I always locate cabinet like this.
You remotely access all server while you in tech office. You go to cool room only necessary. Becasue cool room is supposed to be a bit lower temperature than office room. 
C) Ideally, you will have a small storage room which have a lot of rack or shelves for parts and etc. So you keep tech office tidy and can straight into your work.
D) Other small bits will be: a few extra  gigabyte Network points near your servers and switches. You can use them as backup links or make 2 G backbone. A couple direct phone lines in tech office. One for phone call and one for dial up test for teacher laptops as some still use dial up at home. Some schools has extra phone lines in server room for teachers and tech to access servers. VPN is another way for this. Another thing, I wouldn't be against to have a vendor drink machine in tech room. It will be handy when you feel like to have a short black or latte. This might only remains as a hope in next tech life. 

3.  Have a separate room with appropriate A/C, no carpet, for your server/switch/router racks. Take care to make it as dustless as possible. 

Make sure racks are mounted in the middle of the room so that you can walk easily around them. Have your office/store room etc next door, preferably with a window to see through into the actual server room. Have a KVM with enough ports to service all your servers (and then some) so that you only need one monitor/keyboard/mouse. Use RDP for all access to servers that don't require actual physical access to the console. 

4. You may want to install a temperature sensor that can email you if the temp goes over a certain value. Make sure the room is physically very secure. Perhaps a pin number controlled lock so that only the appropriate people can gain access.

5.  In terms of a fire, make sure they don't put a water sprinkler in there. If you need fire suppression for the reg's, a CO2 one is the only way to go in a computer room.  

Have the room wired on a single/dual UPS, so that all the power coming into the room is filtered and on backup batteries. saves heaps of smaller usp's about the place. If you have box servers and not rack mount servers make sure you have twice as many power points as you need. 

6. Get them to put some fibre runs to your servers as well. good if you want to get into fibre channel storage, or want to run 10gb out of your servers.

Regards people
Stephen Loosley
Victoria Australia

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