Assessing Your Furniture & Flooring Needs
September 22, 2006

By Staff
Appeared in Processor

Have you thought about your data center flooring and rack needs lately? After all, where would your data center be without a floor or server racks? While it’s critical to look after IT areas including cooling, power, and server needs, it’s just as important to assess your other data center needs.

Christopher M. Johnston, vice president and critical facilities chief engineer at Syska Hennessy Group, says flooring is definitely part of the big picture. He says flooring affects the following: the performance of the computer equipment, the ability of the cooling system to cool high-density loads, the ease of adding/removing equipment, the cleanliness of the data center, and the ability of the data center to withstand a seismic event.

Johnston says the flooring in data centers serves as static protection and as a zero reference grid for proper computer equipment operation. He adds, “If the depth of the flooring system is inadequate, the ability to properly cool high-density computer equipment is diminished. With ever-heavier computer equipment cabinets being moved in the data center, the flooring’s ability to handle the rolling load without damage is critical. A high-pressure laminate finish on the top of the flooring panels facilitates proper cleaning. If the flooring is not rated for the proper seismic zone, the flooring could collapse after a seismic event and wreck the data center.”

According to Johnston, IT managers should take necessary steps when assessing flooring needs in the enterprise. “For starters,” Johnston says, “verify the age and manufacturer of the flooring. Ask the flooring manufacturer to assess the condition, rating, and availability of spare parts for flooring. Also, give the manufacturer data on the heaviest equipment to be moved in the data center.” He says if flooring steel components have an electro-plated finish, replace the flooring because electro-plated steel finish can produce zinc whiskers that can damage computer equipment.

Furniture & Racks
Ed Taylor, president of MTI Technology’s services division, says regardless of the size of the organization, rack functionality and quality should be a consideration.

He says, “As server requirements increase, racks are becoming more important for the high-density environments that are under consideration for many organizations. As one of the least expensive parts of a high-dollar environment, cooling options as well as power distribution in the rackare major considerations that should not be ignored.”

While most racks are now built with adequate internal bracing, Taylor says weight limitations should be considered due to high densities. He says, “New features are being incorporated into rack designs to assist with this issue, such as internal fans, designs limiting bypass airflow, and blanking plates.” Taylor says wire management is another critical component for both maintenance and cooling functions within the cabinet. “Since today’s hardware densities require more wiring, securing cable bundles is something that should also be considered to eliminate the chance for cable issues in the future. The knowledge of future hardware plans is needed to adequately plan for the requirements necessary for a rack system.”

In terms of data center furniture, Taylor says, “Furniture has traditionally been more of an afterthought, but adequate workspace that will hold up to the repeated usage by server build teams, system administrators, and test teams (as well as providing proper ergonomic support), should be taken into consideration and considered a necessary requirement.”