What Is a Server Room?

Melissa Barrett

A server room is essentially an area to store a large amount of connected computer hardware. These interlinked computers create a server network, which provides memory and operating speeds that far exceed the capacities of a single computer. The server may be used to manage massive databases or host specific large or multiuser computer software programs. Server rooms are the smaller siblings of data center facilities and often have all the accompanying headaches on a much lesser scale.

Racks of servers in a server room.
Racks of servers in a server room.

The most common use of a server room is to hold equipment that contains information that will be available on the Internet. Every web page, music download, or game available on the Internet is housed within a server. An intranet within an organization works largely on the same principle as the Internet and often requires its own server.

Rolling racks are often used to provide easy access for server repairs.
Rolling racks are often used to provide easy access for server repairs.

Creating a server room is much more complicated than putting a few computers on a table and wiring them together. These rooms can contain hundreds of hard drives connected by thousands of feet of cable. Organization is critical as are procedures to ensure the correct temperature and humidity of the room. Power supply is also a consideration as many servers require large amounts of electricity and must maintain reliability even during a power failure.

Generally, server room equipment is placed on 19-inch (48.3-centimeter) wide racks in cabinets or shelves that are several units high. It is advisable to securely attach each unit to the rack to avoid accidental breakage. Cables must be cut long enough to allow for adjustment but not so long as to cause tangling. Groups of cables should be bundled and bound together. Wiring for power and connectivity is usually at the back of the units, so rolling racks are often used to provide easy access for repairs.

Another benefit of racks in server room design is increased airflow around individual units. This helps to keep hard drives cool and prevent water condensation. In addition, the racks themselves may be fitted with fans or even individually air-conditioned. Frequently, large room air-conditioners are also used to further prevent malfunction of server equipment due to overheating. As most server rooms are unoccupied, lighting is kept to a minimum to eliminate additional ambient heat.

Designing the power supply for a server room can be extremely complex. At the very least, wiring and circuit boxes should be refitted to handle the increased electricity flow without shorts or power surges. Supplementary surge protectors should be installed on wiring into individual hard drives. Backup generators are, of course, highly recommended. In addition, a battery operated device called an uninterruptible power source (UPS) can usually provide power so quickly that no interruption in operation is noticeable.

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