Build the Best Data Center Facility for Your Business

Build the Best Data Center Facility for Your Business

by Douglas Alger
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Cisco Press

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Build the Best Data Center Facility for Your Business

A comprehensive guide to designing and operating reliable server environments

  • Keep your data center cool, clean, scalable, and secure
  • Learn the five principles of effective data center design
  • Avoid the natural and man-made hazards that can jeopardize a data center site
  • Learn how to lay out key infrastructure objects within the data center for greatest efficiency, from buffer zones to server rows
  • Apply proven installation methods by studying sample illustrations of both overhead and under-floor systems
  • Extract the best practices and design strategies for both in-room and standby electrical infrastructure
  • Avoid accidental downtime, improve productivity, and ensure user safety
  • Safeguard and streamline your network infrastructure with a well-organized physical hierarchy
  • Understand the special challenges of retrofitting overburdened server environments
  • Implement solutions from a wide array of sample illustrations and examples of essential data center signage
  • Safeguard servers with operations standards for people working in or visiting the data center
  • Download templates used by Cisco to design its data centers, customizable to square footage and geography
  • Avoid excess construction costs by designing a data center that meets your needs today and for many years to come

    All data centers are unique, but they all share the same mission: to protect your company’s valuable information. Build the Best Data Center Facility for Your Business answers your individual questions in one flexible step-by-step reference guide.

    Benefit from the author’s concise and practical approach to data center design and management. The author distills this complex topic by sharing his first-hand and worldwide experience and expertise. Regardless of your experience level, you can fill your knowledge gaps on how to safeguard your company’s valuable equipment and intellectual property.

    This easy-to-navigate book is divided into two parts: Part I covers data center design and physical infrastructure details, and Part II covers data center management and operations. You can also access supplementary online materials for installation instructions, which include customizable data center design templates, written cabling specifications, and sample drawings.

    If you need a starting point for designing your first data center, regardless of size; if you need to prepare yourself with comprehensive strategies to retrofit or improve an existing one; or if you need proven methods to manage a data center for maximum productivity—this book is your readily accessible, comprehensive resource for answers and insights.

    Invest in the best future for your business by learning how to build and manage robust and productive data centers now.

    This book is part of the Networking Technology Series from Cisco Press‚ which offers networking professionals valuable information for constructing efficient networks, understanding new technologies, and building successful careers.

  • Product Details

    ISBN-13: 9781587051821
    Publisher: Cisco Press
    Publication date: 06/14/2005
    Series: Networking Technology Series
    Edition description: New Edition
    Pages: 408
    Product dimensions: 7.54(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.12(d)

    Table of Contents



    Part I Designing the Data Center Infrastructure

    Chapter 1 Approaching the Data Center Project

    Understanding the Value of Your Data Center

    Deciding Whether to Outsource

    Defining Requirements and Roles

    Client Needs

    Cross-Functional Support

    Architecting a Productive Data Center

    Make It Robust

    Make It Modular

    Make It Flexible


    Promote Good Habits

    Previewing Data Center Components

    Physical Space

    Raised Flooring

    In-Room Electrical

    Standby Power



    Fire Suppression

    Other Infrastructure Components

    Establishing Data Center Design Criteria


    Infrastructure Tiers

    One Room or Several?

    Life Span

    Budget Decisions

    Managing a Data Center Project

    The Design Package

    Working with Experts

    Tips for a Successful Project


    Chapter 2 Choosing an Optimal Site

    Assessing Viable Locations for Your Data Center

    Building Codes and the Data Center Site

    Site Risk Factors

    Natural Disasters


    Electromagnetic Interference


    Political Climates

    Flight Paths

    Evaluating Physical Attributes of the Data Center Site

    Relative Location


    Disaster Recovery Options

    Pre-Existing Infrastructure

    Power Analysis

    Cooling Capabilities

    Structured Cabling

    Amenities and Obstacles


    Weight Issues

    Loading Dock

    Freight Elevators

    Problem Areas

    Distribution of Key Systems

    Confirming Service Availability to the Data Center Site

    Prioritizing Needs for the Data Center Site


    Chapter 3 Quantifying Data Center Space

    Sizing the Data Center

    Financial and Other Considerations When Sizing the Data Center

    Employee-Based Sizing Method

    Equipment-Based Sizing Method

    Other Influencing Factors When Sizing Your Data Center

    Determining Shape and Placement of Your Data Center

    Desirable and Undesirable Spaces to Place Your Data Center

    Growth Paths for Your Data Center’s Space

    Consolidation Options for Your Data Center

    Structure and Finishes of the Data Center

    Associated Data Center Support Rooms

    Electrical Room

    Networking Room

    Loading Dock

    Build Room

    Storage Room

    Operations Command Center

    Backup Room

    Media Storage Area

    Vendor Service Areas


    Chapter 4 Laying Out the Data Center

    Drawing Tools Available to Create Your Data Center Layout

    The Floor Grid

    Defining Spaces for Physical Elements of Your Data Center

    Mechanical Equipment

    Power Distribution Units

    Air Handlers

    Fire Suppression Tanks

    Buffer Zones


    Equipment Rows

    Form Versus Function

    Setting Row Dimensions

    Networking Rows

    Orienting Rows

    Weight Issues

    Seismic Mitigation

    Dealing with Obstacles

    Irregular Spaces

    Structural Columns


    System Controls


    Common Problems

    The Floor Grid Is Positioned Incorrectly

    Infrastructure Items Are Installed Backwards

    Floor Space Between Rows Is Too Narrow

    Infrastructure Items Are Uncoordinated or Misplaced


    Chapter 5 Overhead or Under-Floor Installation?

    Overhead Installation

    Under-Floor Installation

    Separation of Power and Data

    Plenum and Non-Plenum Spaces

    Ceiling Components

    Raised Floor Components

    Floor Height

    Ramps and Lifts

    Weight Bearing Ability

    Types of Floor Tiles

    Floor Tiles and Static

    Termination Details

    The Subfloor

    Common Problems

    Tile Cut-outs Are Poorly Sized or in the Wrong Location

    Cabling Installed in Plenum Spaces Aren’t Properly Rated

    The Raised Floor System Isn’t Strong Enough to Accommodate Equipment


    Chapter 6 Creating a Robust Electrical System

    Recommended Electrical System Features

    Isolated Power

    Avoiding Single Points of Failure

    Maintenance Bypass Options

    Remote Infrastructure Management

    In-Room Power

    Determining Power Requirements

    Power Distribution

    Power Redundancy

    Wiring, Component, and Termination Options

    Labeling and Documenting

    Convenience Outlets

    Emergency Power Off

    Standby Power

    Load Requirements



    Monitoring Lights

    Labeling and Documenting

    Installation and Grounding

    Signal Reference Grid

    Testing and Verification

    Common Problems


    Chapter 7 Designing a Scalable Network Infrastructure

    Importance of the Physical Network

    Cabling Hierarchy

    Cable Characteristics

    Copper Cabling

    Fiber-Optic Cable

    Multimode Fiber

    Singlemode Fiber

    Cabling Costs

    Storage Area Networks (SANs)

    Determining Connectivity Requirements

    Network Redundancy

    Networking Room

    Common Termination Options

    Copper Cabling Terminators

    Fiber Cabling Terminators

    Color-Coding Cabling Materials

    Building-to-Building Connectivity

    Recommended Installation Practices

    General Installation

    Bundling Structured Cabling

    Minimum Bend Radius

    Reverse Fiber Positioning

    Labeling the Structured Cabling System

    Cabinet Installations

    Testing and Verifying Structured Cabling

    Wire Management

    Common Problems


    Chapter 8 Keeping It Cool

    Cooling Requirements

    Chilled Liquid Cooling

    House Air

    Makeup Air

    Cooling Quantities and Temperature Ranges

    Redundancy in Your Cooling Infrastructure

    Cooling Distribution and Air Pressure


    Layout, Cabinets, and Cooling


    Positioning Air Handlers

    Hot and Cold Aisles

    Cabinet Design

    Fire Suppression

    Suppression Materials


    Manual Controls

    Design Details

    Air Sampling and Smoke Detection

    Fire Alarms

    Handheld Extinguishers

    Common Problems


    Chapter 9 Removing Skeletons from Your Server Closet

    Lack of Space

    Space Saving Measures

    New Construction


    Infrastructure Shortcomings




    Fire Suppression

    Structural Support

    Paradigm Shifts


    Large-Scale Server Moves


    Part II Managing the DataCenter

    Chapter 10 Organizing Your Way to an Easier Job

    The Need For Organization

    Organizing Equipment: Form vs Function

    Clustering by Function

    Organizing by Business Group

    Grouping by Manufacturer

    Not Organizing at All

    Planning for Growth

    Controlling Incoming Equipment


    Chapter 11 Labeling and Signage

    Choosing a Numbering Scheme

    Recommended Labeling Practices

    Cable Runs

    Electrical Conduits

    Cabinet Locations

    Servers and Networking Devices

    Server Rows


    Essential Signage

    Fire Alarm Instructions

    Fire Suppression System Instructions

    Emergency Power Off Instructions

    Monitoring Lights

    Emergency Contacts

    Final Note


    Chapter 12 Stocking and Standardizing

    Equipping a Data Center

    Patch Cords and Adapters

    Server Cabinets



    Equipment Spares


    Chapter 13 Safeguarding the Servers

    Physical Access Restrictions

    Door Controls


    Locking Cabinets

    Closed-Circuit Television Coverage

    Access Policies and Procedures


    Implement Change Management

    Change Defined

    Change Request Essentials

    When to Make Changes

    Use Only Approved Materials

    Follow Security Procedures


    Don’t Leave Trash in the Data Center

    Don’t Steal Items or Infrastructure

    Don’t String Cables Between Cabinets

    Good Installation Practices

    Manage Cabinet Space

    Properly Use Rack Units

    The Balance of Power

    Route Cabling Neatly

    Label Thoroughly

    Data Center Tours


    Chapter 14 Mapping, Monitoring, and Metrics

    Documenting the Data Center

    Floor Plan


    Server Inventory



    Features and Philosophies

    Monitoring from Afar

    Web Cameras

    Amperage Meters

    Temperature Sensors

    Humidity Sensors

    Gathering Metrics

    Maintaining an Incident Log

    Availability Metrics

    Other Useful Data


    Chapter 15 Maintaining a World-Class Environment

    The Importance of Data Center Maintenance

    Regular Upkeep

    Professional Cleaning

    Vendor Qualifications and Credentials

    Approved Cleaning Equipment and Materials

    Pre-Cleaning Steps

    Standards of Operations

    Cleaning Procedures



    Servers and Networking Devices

    Other Above-Floor Items

    Floor Surface


    Post-Cleaning Steps


    Common Problems




    Customer Reviews

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    Build the Best Data Center Facility for Your Business 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Building the Best Data Center Facility for Your Business by Douglas Alger This CiscoPress book is quite an outsider compared to other more classical CiscoPress material. It does not talk about networking itself but about how to build the physical infrastructure to host a data center, focusing on several areas such as temperature control, electrical and networking availability, or simply explains how to choose between raised floor or ceiling installations... The author of the book manages over 40 data centers all around the world, so you will find every now and then a text box with Douglas' tips or field experiences, which are very valuable. The first 9 chapters focus on designing and implementing a data center, from choosing an ideal site and sizing it right, tips on how to present the project to the executives and getting their approval, selecting the contractors who will build the data center etc. It goes on a chapter at the time talking about the cooling infrastructure, the electrical layout and sizing, the most efficient network layout for both copper and fiber cabling. The layout of the room is discussed all over these chapters explaining to the reader why not to put all small servers in the same rack (which could be a problem for eletrical and networking availability, heat generation or/and weight), or why the racks must align with floor tiles, how to creare cold and warm rows... Several layout examples are given showing their weaknesses and strengths. Structural issues are discussed, such as problems with building the room on an upper floor compared to a ground floor, proximity to electromagnetic fields, to heavily polluted areas, or to sismic areas. Guidelines for employees behaviour in the data center are also stated, with examples of what could happen if these rules are not strictly followed.. The remaining 6 chapters focus on how to get the best out of your data center and to keep it working at its best. Exemples of signage and labeling are shown to help out the users do the right thing even in emergency situations. Douglas migth seem maniacal about labeling, but my own experience can confirm all he says...label everything! Items to have in stock and everyday tools are listed to remind us which things should never be missing to help avoiding situations where system administrators cannot complete their job because of a missing patch cord or screwdriver. Monitoring and professional room cleaning are the last two items discussed in the book and Douglas' experience is very valuable in both areas to give us some tips. I found this book very interesting since I am running a data center that needs retrofitting soon and Douglas' experiences might come very handy to me. The language is very easy to follow as with most CiscoPress books, which is important for non-English people!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    When individuals consider recent events from natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes to terrorist attacks like September 11th, not to mention new government regulations within areas like HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley the need to secure organizations information is becoming more critical. Thus an organizations desire to design and/or construct a data center that will meet these needs has increased. With in the book ¿Building the Best Data Center Facility for Your Business¿ by Douglas Alger guidance for items that need to be considered are presented in a detailed format. The general population and most companies assume that they can set a computer room or data area up without any issues or difficulties, hence it is always assumed that if you have knowledge of Server and Network design and someone that has an understanding of construction you can do it. But when you design a Data Center and consider items like power usage and cooling needs, you need to consider other items like fire suppression and redundant power sources. Within Alger¿s book we see items that most computer engineers will take for granted like raised flooring, and HVAC (cooling). But we also see items that some may consider common sense like generator power and supply guidance for fueling these generators. This book I found an excellent baseline and for as the author said in the introductory pages ¿Setting up a data center is easy. Except that the first time you do it you're going to screw up badly.¿ Hence as I read this book I found myself returning to discussions and implementations I did a few years ago and could see where we made mistakes and learned from them. Alger was correct in his statement and I was further able to reflect in my mind on the discussions that we had on items that included spacing and area needed for computers and networks then on topics like power utilization and cooling needs where always being considered. As I mentioned Alger¿s book provided me with reflections and will provide anyone reading it individuals with the needed initial guidance on either building or what to consider when improvements both a computer rooms or a data centers. While this book may appear small at only 374 pages including the index, its detail and guidance will add to anyone¿s knowledge or needs. Some of the information and definitions like what is a ¿U¿ and the difference between DC and AC power are discussed ,but also items like how to properly clean the room with pH neutral items and services as well as how to gather metrics only enhance the books value and understanding. While the book does limit itself to certain rack sizes and power utilizations not comparable with newer equipment occurring today, it does provide an excellent guideline. I can only hope that you like myself find the book informative and consider it, if nothing more than a guidance on how to work with a proper computer room and data center environment.