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5 Ways to Maximize Your Server Room ROI

While cutting corners is unacceptable, if you keep an eye on certain aspects of building, maintaining, and upgrading your equipment, your costs can be lowered greatly, writes Paul Stennett of

Industry Perspectives

September 3, 2013

4 Min Read
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Paul Stennett is a Product Specialist at—an industry-leading online retailer of telecom/datacom/networking, electrical, and cable and wire management products.




Your server room is not only one of the most important assets of your business; it can also be one of the most expensive. While cutting corners is unacceptable, if you keep an eye on certain aspects of building, maintaining and upgrading your equipment, your costs can be lowered greatly.

1. Stay Cool

With all the heat generating devices typically found in a server room, cooling can get pretty expensive. Too bad it’s unavoidable! Cooling is one of the most influential factors in determining the longevity and efficiency of your equipment. Badly cooled equipment heats up very quickly and can go from brand new to completely fried in no time at all. That being said improper cooling will cost you much more than proper cooling in the end.

Many technicians have made the dire error of thinking that cooling fans and air conditioning units were the end-all-be-all of cooling. Nothing could be further from the truth. One of the most crucial elements of cooling is actually cable management. In a densely populated cabinet, un-managed cables can create a solid wall that blocks airflow to your equipment, rendering your internal and external cooling systems utterly useless. As a side note, poor cable management also does damage to your connectors and cables, further decreasing service life! Nowadays, there are so many affordable, highly effective, easy to apply network cable management solutions available that there is no good reason not to do it.

Always try to balance the heat distribution throughout the server room. For example, don’t have an entire section devoted to servers and a section devoted to patch panels or some other passive type of equipment. Situations like this cause hot spots that overwork your cooling systems in and out of the cabinet.

For reasons unknown, dust loves server cabinets. Though it may not seem like a big deal, it doesn’t take long for a dust build-up to clog your cabinet fans and cause your equipment to overheat. Clean your server room thoroughly on a regular basis. If possible, seal the doors and any other openings that might cause air to escape and dust to enter.

Always recalculate your cooling needs when adding equipment.

2. Manage Your Power

Power isn’t free, so the less you use, the less you pay. Managed PDUs make it easier to take complete control over your power situation. They allow you to monitor, analyze, and allot power at your discretion, and most will allow you to adjust the settings of each outlet individually. This also allows you more freedom to install equipment where it is most convenient and concurrent with your cooling system, rather than having to group devices according to a power plan.

To take the savings even further, consider solar power. Solar powering systems tend to be pretty expensive to install, but pay for themselves after a few years. Keep in mind that results vary according to the weather in your area. It should go without saying that this option is a bit more viable in Arizona than it is in Washington.

3. Don’t Buy Equipment Just Because It’s Expensive

The data center is one of the most important parts of your business, so no one wants to cheap out. This is understandable, but the focus should be more on performance. In the server business, it seems safe to say that the only companies that consistently produce reliable products will survive. If you can get a one manufacturer's server that fits your needs, has good reviews, and is affordable, check it out instead of buying the top-of-the-line from the biggest manufacturer.

On that note, it’s also important to only buy the amount of equipment you need. As important as it is to be prepared for growth, nothing is more wasteful than having thousands of dollars of equipment lying around becoming more dated by the day only to sold for half its original price should it never be implemented.

4. Think about the Future

If you want to be competitive, you have to ensure your equipment is as up to date as possible. You can get an easy head start by keeping an eye out for coming trends. Buy into the next generation of standards and your components and software will see a much longer service life.

5. Sell Your Old Equipment

We’ve all seen it. . .The IT department decides to upgrade a piece of equipment, and the old component sits and collects dust, waiting for the day when time travel becomes a reality. While it may not be useful to you, much of this equipment is still relevant enough to fetch a pretty penny from someone on a lower budget. If you are upgrading your equipment, sell the old equipment immediately.

All the money saving tips in the world could never be a substitute for keeping your finger on the pulse of your network. Always remember to perform regular maintenance checks and take care of any issues immediately. Otherwise, all other advice is almost useless.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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