Inside a business networking closet

It may seem trivial, but even small fluctuations in temperature or humidity can increase the chances of damage to your business' network equipment. Routers, switches and servers are designed to function within a fairly narrow temperature range, so it is important to maintain a consistent climate in your network closet. By doing so, you are not only improving the overall performance of your business networking equipment, you are ensuring the longest possible life from your hardware.

The cost of a catastrophic failure in your data infrastructure could be considerable; the cost to replace the damaged hardware, not to mention the loss of productivity with no emails, no incoming phone calls, and no order entry. Think about how much it could cost in lost revenue if your company came to a standstill. This is why it is so important to maintain a network friendly network closet.

What is an Ideal Temperature?

General recommendations suggest that temperatures inside a network closet not dip below (50°F) or rise above (82°F). Although this seems like a wide range, these are the extremes and it is far more common to keep the ambient temperature around (68-71°F). For a variety of reasons, this can sometimes be a tall order. However, in today’s IT world the temperature guidelines have been changing quickly. Some equipment manufacturers are allowing their equipment to operate at much higher temperatures. Google has stated it's data center temperatures are kept as high as (80°F) as a means to reduce the energy consumption and cost to maintain their facilities.

Another very important factor to keep in mind is airflow. You can set the best plan in motion to cool your data room and ensure the correct temperature, however, if the cool air does not get to the air intakes of your equipment, all your hard work is for nothing. You may have a room with a temperature of around (70°F), but the internal part of your servers and other network devices might be running in the high (90°F) to (110°F) without proper airflow. So, keep in mind, when designing the layout of your equipment and adding fans or AC units to your network closet, to pay close attention to the direction of airflow.

Business Networking: Dusty Data!

You will also want to keep in mind that network equipment is sensitive to air quality. Adding airflow devices, such as fans or air conditioners, to your network closet can stir up dust that can cause equipment failure, so make sure the environment is clean before doing so. In general, if your equipment is located in a small closet, hidden corner area or a room with carpeted floors, it can get covered in fine dust and debris over time.

Dust and debris can not only coat switches, servers and other equipment on the outside, but can also get sucked into the air intakes and coat the inside of your equipment. This can choke fans and other internal parts designed to wick away internal heat, causing efficiency issues as well as more serious problems such as data loss, media failures or even total operating system failures, in severe cases. Vacuuming network equipment from time to time will help keep your network functioning properly.

Humidity: The Invisible Threat

In general, any form of liquid in your data center is a bad idea, however water in the air is another story. Humidity is needed in the correct proportion to promote a healthy environment for your network equipment. Too much humidity in your data center can lead to condensation inside servers, switches and routers causing rust and corrosion, and leading to electrical shorts.

Too little humidity in your data center can result in a buildup of static electricity; a discharge of this hidden threat can do serious damage to your sensitive electronics. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) it is recommended that the network equipment be exposed to relative humidity between 40% and 50%.

In today’s business world, we rely more and more on our data network to provide us with the information and real-time transactions that drive the success of our business. Without taking the time to properly maintain your network closet, you could be setting yourself up for a major disaster that could lead to hours or even days of downtime. Maintaining a constant temperature with good airflow, a clean air environment, and the proper humidity level will help maintain your data network’s life and equipment longevity.

For more information on maintaining your business networking equipment, or any of our other services, call TelWare at 704-598-4700

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