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Data center budget: Funding your data center

One of our readers is having trouble convincing the big wigs that the data center needs a serious make over. See what advice expert Charles King came up with for data center funding.

I am facing a dilemma right now. The data center that is at my current job is dated. I believe it was put in the 60's. Now, since it is dated, my objective is to get it renovated. The problem is accounting wants justification for that to happen. The first route I was taking was that the servers are running too hot. In two of the racks we had temperatures at 101 F and 98 F. They wanted proof from a manufacturer that stated that was too hot. I started looking around, only thing I can find is an operating range for our servers. 45 F - 95 F with 45% RH. Now, that doesn't really dictate what I want because we can drop the temp in the room to 65, and then my servers equal out at about 90ish. In my opinion, if you can keep your coffee warm behind a server, its too hot. That's not good enough for the accountants. I need someway to justify, with stats and facts, that I have a true need for funding for a new data center. Issues I have: ceiling is old and missing tiles in various places. I dont think its fire resistant and our suppression system is Halon which requires a sealed room for the gas to work effectively. The floor is only raised 6 inches, has holes cut in it all over the place, is filthy above and below it. Is there a reason/standard for server room floors to be higher than 6 inches and if so why? We have no wire trays so electric wires and network wires run over one another in a giant rats nest. If a line went bad I wouldn't have any method to trouble shoot it other than run a new one. I am looking for any advice or stats anyone can give me to help justify this to the books for a new room. Thanks in advance.

Data center budget: It sounds like your company is a candidate for a This Old Datacenter makeover. Seriously though, your description offers a great example of what can happen when a company stops thinking about its datacenter strategically and lets its IT infrastructure and support solutions grow into an increasingly complex, difficult to manage, and even dangerous hodgepodge.

The issues you raise are of critical concern, but the information accounting is asking you to provide suggests that management may (a) be in a state of denial about the situation or (b) resist addressing the problem (let alone admitting one exists) until a major problem occurs. Unfortunately, that head-in-the-sand attitude is all too common, even considering how potentially disastrous a fire or other serious event could be for the company and its clientele.

It sounds like your company needs to give serious consideration to assessing its current IT requirements and comparing/contrasting what it needs against what it already has. At this point, determining how new IT investments will pay off with increased performance and efficiencies is likely to resonate better with accounting and management than even well-founded fears about over-heated servers and aging or dangerous infrastructure elements.

Most vendors offer assessment services, as do many datacenter consultants. I'd start by querying your current hardware vendors about their offerings, and also check in with competitors. It might also be worth finding out how long it has been since your company's insurance inspected the datacenter. The possibility of premium increases or a refusal of coverage might be just the thing to get your datacenter makeover rolling.

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