In business, information is everything. And if data is the lifeblood of commerce, then the data center is the heart that keeps things moving. If your data center takes a dive, everything else comes to a screeching halt, and you risk critical information loss, dissatisfied customers, and expensive downtime and equipment replacement. The solution? Prevent data center trouble from the very beginning.
In addition to properly monitoring and maintaining server equipment, data center disaster prevention relies on an IT staff's adherence to a few cardinal best practices. It's a simple plan: get your team dedicated to upholding some basic server room ground rules, and watch the frequency of incidents and malfunctions steadily drop. Here are 5 first-string best practices to kick off your data center prevention plan.
Create (and Follow) Set Procedures
Procedure may be boring, but there's nothing like it for preventing malfunctions and mishaps- especially in data centers. Carefully document procedures for set up, breakdown, maintenance tasks, and - if you live in an area prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, or tornados - disaster recovery. Having set procedures for all aspects of data center operation ensures that no matter who works on a given day, how much staff turnover you experience or how many people you have collaborating on a project, everyone will be on the same page, and be able to pick up the ball and complete any task with as little confusion and delay as possible.
Label Like it's Going Out of Style
When it comes to data centers, there's really no such thing as too many labels. When you're dealing with a seemingly countless numbers of servers, switches and patch cables, it's in your best interest to label each and every data port and component. Taking a little extra time to label at the get-go can lead to exponential time savings in the long run - maintenance and troubleshooting take a fraction of the time when personnel can trace cables and ports at a glance, instead of using the frustrating trial-and-error method.
Contaminants like dust, small fibers, liquids and food particles can all wreak havoc on computer equipment, so it's critical that they're left where they belong: outside the data center. Strictly enforce a "no food, no drink" policy among employees, and make it easier to remember (and abide by) by placing a highly visible sign and convenient trash can outside the data center's entrance.
Prevent staff from tracking in dust by having them wipe their feet on doormats or slip anti-static covers over their shoes before entering. Further cut down on air-circulated particulate by keeping corrugated cardboard boxes well away from critical equipment, as they're known for shedding fibers that can be easily pulled into intake fans.
Crack Down on Unauthorized Access
Limit security breaches and other damages by creating a facility-wide policy that requires all visitors to sign in and out, as well as be escorted by qualified personnel at all times. Install card, biometric or code-based access-control systems in critical areas, which will ensure that only authorized employees interact with equipment, and can provide you with logs of the times at which any given employee accesses a particular room or system.
Accident-Proof Your Emergency Buttons
Emergency Power Off (EPO) switches are great things to have when the unexpected emergency strikes, but push them at any other time, and all they cause are problems - big ones. Complete loss of power and hours of downtime can create multiple crises for your business, clients and staff, so prevent the accidental pushing of EPOs by clearly labeling (in more than one language, if necessary) and installing protective covers over emergency controls.