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Outfitting a Brand New Datacenter? 110

An anonymous reader writes "We completed our new 4,000 sq. ft. data center (Tier II/III, according to The Uptime Institute) and just recently moved our core systems from our old data center to the new. We've been up and running for several months now and I'm preparing to close out the project. The last piece is to purchase some accessories and tools for the new location. The short list so far consists of a Server Lift, a few extra floor tile pullers, flashlights and a crash cart. We'll also add to the tools in the toolbox located in one of the auxiliary rooms — these things seem to have legs! What are we missing? Where can we find crash carts set up more for a data center environment (beyond the utility cart with and LCD, keyboard, and mouse strapped to it)?"
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Outfitting a Brand New Datacenter?

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  • hmmm (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You will probably need a series of tubes.
  • Safety equipment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:13PM (#20051825)
    Ear protection
    O2 masks for when the Halon drops
    arrows on the floor directing people to the nearest exit
    a 'Battleship' style row/column marker for every row/column of racks
    near-Draconian access control policies
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gnarfel ( 1135055 )
      Padlocks. Lots and lots of padlocks. Those pesky electrical panels have a tendency of getting shut off, and they all seem to be outfitted with padlock holes.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Um, that's for lockouts, to keep the power OFF while someone is working on it, not to keep the power on. (and in fact, it'd be likely illegal to lock it on even if the holes did line up)
    • Safety equipment++ (Score:4, Informative)

      by soloport ( 312487 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:36PM (#20052071) Homepage
      And a good sized crescent wrench. Absolutely indispensable.

      Drop it across the terminals of one of your backup batteries -- when it's disconnected from the grid. When the wrench cools off, store it in a safe place. Makes a great scapegoat when things go wrong. Could save your career...
    • by _Sharp'r_ ( 649297 ) <> on Monday July 30, 2007 @11:35PM (#20052663) Homepage Journal

      Lots of cheap plastic tarps that are stored out of the way but that you can deploy quickly in the event of a water event.

      I know, you think you'll never use them, but if you do (storm leaks, broken pipe above, etc...), they'll be the most valuable tools you could have spent $100 acquiring a whole bunch of.

      You just haven't lived if you haven't empirically tested (even accidently) how long it takes for power circuits under six inches of water to blow, or how those drop ceiling flourescent tube lights look when they're full of water and still going, or how long servers and switches stay up with water pouring down the racks into them.... :)
      • Re: Tarps (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tmack ( 593755 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:26AM (#20053421) Homepage Journal
        Its modded funny... but should be Informative. One of our datacenters had a bathroom located on the floor above. For fear of something overflowing and dripping into the racks, plastic was kept on standby. Notice I said "had a bathroom"... we finally worked out a deal with the building mgmt, now its more office space for us. Plastic sheets are a must. If for nothing else, the roof might leak, fire suppression might go off (now days replacing servers can be cheaper than refilling the "halon" tanks), some random pipe in the ceiling/floors above might break, or someone might decide to drive their car into the wall and make a new door. Having the plastic on standby is a good idea.


        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by dpilot ( 134227 )
          Heck, my office is under the cafeteria. Forget plain old water, how about a soup spill (minor quantities, but messy) or a dishwasher malfunction? (major quantities, almost as messy, per litre.)
        • Yeah, we had a pipe from a bathroom above break once. Of course it was after hours when no one from that office was around to let someone in to shut it off right away. That accounted for the water coming in from the ceiling, through the lights and right into the top of the racks.

          We also had storm water funnelled into the raised floor are where the power was all running. The outside flooded and apparently where some of the data conduits went out of the building, water could come in and then pour down onto th
      • if your AC fails, you have a surpringly short time before heat will become a major problem. A portable aircon unit or 5 and some door wedges, combined with your largest sysadmins on guard duty, could save your bacon...
        • You're definitely thinking when you suggest this; cooling problems have been the bane of just about every data center i've ever been involved with (including my current project, sigh).

          In a data center of this size (4000 sq. ft), with any significant density, a portable chiller and propping the doors really won't help.

          I recently toured a Department of Energy research lab with a couple smallish but high-density data centers. (10 kw per rack; computing cluster with racks full of 1U servers).

          They had designed
      • by numbski ( 515011 ) *
        Wow - I never thought about it, and it frightens me that you're speaking from experience. Yikes.

        These are definitely my people in here....
      • We had a water pipe spring a leak at one of our dehumidifiers (oh the irony), on a Saturday afternoon, on the wrong side of the shut off valve. It was a slow leak but, had been going for about 12 hours when I found it. The mops were locked in the janitors closet, and a shop vac really would have slowed the course of water across the server room floor, and made cleanup a lot easier.
      • Tarps will also come in handy when you decide to do anything drastic with your ceiling tiles. Granted, this may take several years in your new datacenter, but in the old one, when the boss decides that a cheap and easy way to impress the bigwigs on Monday is to replace all the ceiling tiles with nice shiny ones. On Saturday.

        Cover all the racks and equipment before you begin, or you'll be sorry. Fiberglass and/or gypsum dust circulating forever, grime and dust and rat droppings hurdling toward every fan,
    • New datacenters don't get Halon, they get FM200. It costs significantly more, but it won't kill you.
      • Halon-1301 (bromotrifluoromethane) won't kill you either, at least not more than FM-200 (heptaflouropropane). It can be broken down in to hydrogen bromide and hydrogen fluoride, which are more dangerous, but that's uncommon even in exposure to high temperatures.

        Both chemicals are as designed to displace oxygen, and therefore both chemicals can cause dizziness and disorientation in small quantities and death in large quantities, but they are both non-toxic and easily dissipated. It's just that Halon-1301 has
        • To be clear, I shouldn't have said "designed to displace oxygen", as that's not strictly true. But they are dangerous *because* they displace oxygen, regardless of their design or method of fire supression.
    • by mrzaph0d ( 25646 )
      arrows on the floor directing people to the nearest exit

      and a policy making sure no one uses the floor tile pullers to rearrange those tiles with the arrows on them
    • by numbski ( 515011 ) * < minus poet> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @10:41AM (#20057379) Homepage Journal
      Having built a "ghetto" data center from used gear in an old loft, I may not have all state of the art, but here's some things I found that weren't immediately obvious at the time:

      1. A list of what UPS' take what batteries, and contact with a vendor that can get them to you ground in one day without having to pay overnight shipping. This is priceless. Trust me. If you have a full-center battery backup this actually makes it even more important, not less.

      2. A *REPUTABLE* generator service person, and a service agreement. I never realized how hard it was to find someone that was reliable, and that when they say "24-hour service" it means that someone actually answers the phone, and responds withing an hour, or heck, even a day.

      3. Lots and lots of screws, cage nuts, and cage nut removal tools. All of the prior have a habit of up and walking off. Have plenty on hand.

      4. Hideaway bed. I'm not joking. Have a place where a tech can crash after a 2 am service call. Better than driving exhausted.

      5. AdderLinkIP, phone line installed to core rack, and Modem. Hook the AdderLinkIP to your KVMs, and code in all hosts. Now you can get console remotely on any box, PLUS if your internet connection should go down, someone can dial into the AdderLink, and be able to troubleshoot the net connection from the inside without having to drive. Priceless.

      6. If there is not a break area nearby with a fridge, get a mini fridge. Stock the fridge with caffeine. Make this a habit that the company provides. Caffeine without having to leave to get it is priceless during a crash too.

      7. Anything else you can think of to make your network engineers LESS repulsed at the idea of having to be there. After a while being "the guy(s)" to go to when things go down has it's novelty wear off. If it's within an office, an arcade cabinet, darts, an XBox, ANYTHING....ask them what they enjoy doing in their off time. Heck, alcohol in small quantity is even done in our office (we have a micro-brewery across the street - I have 2 growlers in the office for those long weekend projects).

      By saying you're Tier II/III, it leads me to believe you don't have to present as much of an image (hyper-clean room environment with lots and lots of racks, and nothing else), so do what makes you feel comfortable there. You'll be spending more time than you'd like there soon.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by rickshank ( 206122 )
        I'll clarify a bit (I'm the submitter). Tier II/III defines the redundancy/sustainability of our data center.

        We've got redundant feeds from the power company, redundant diesel generators, redundant UPS systems, N+1 HVAC system, etc.

        Image is important. We frequently have audits and they typically want to view the data center. Certainly a clean room type environment, with scheduled above/under floor professional cleanings and no clutter. No games, tool boxes, shipping containers or the like. Servers a
        • Sounds like you will have a nice facility. I see all kinds of spaces, from _barely_ server rooms that I don't even want to call Tier 1 all the way to true Tier 4 (very rare). Are you Tier 2 or 3? All computers will be required to have dual power inputs supplied from a primary and an alternate source for Tier 3 (and everything needs to be concurrently maintainable). Just curious.
          • Most (90+%) has 2 inputs, from 2 separate sources (different PDU,UPS, Generator, electrical feed from Power Company). On units that don't (some lower end routers, provided by 3rd party vendors for connectivity), we use static transfer switches that at provide at least some redundancy.

          • by Bandman ( 86149 )
            Hi. I'm very very interested in learning more about the designations, and what sort of things I can do to improve my data centers (and I use that term in the loosest possible meaning). Any resources you can point me to?

            Please email (or reply) at bandman -at-

    • fully stocked first-aid kit or three
      lights that don't require wall-power; led stick-ons in critical places can be good
      ear protection (that room is louder than you think)
      extra tape and permanent markers in multiple colors for labeling.
      high-intensity snake-type lights
      mirror and magnifier for reading small labels on machines
      clearly labeled signs "to Power, Cooling, Bob's Office", so no mystery cables
      Lots of spare parts. Preferably 1-2 servers, switches, etc which serve only to be hot-swapped or cannibalized i
    • Sounds like the data center I work in
  • by Mistlefoot ( 636417 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:27PM (#20051965)
    "We've been up and running for several months now" ... "What are we missing?"

    You've migrated several months ago - if you don't know what you are missing yet you either haven't been paying attention to what you need locally or haven't been paying attention to the recent news. Any small items you've probably already needed and know about.

    Large things - like accomodating power outages (see 365 Main St) need to be prepared for. I'd guess after a successful migration you've likely covered most things.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vilain ( 127070 )
      Some things I saw in the last datacenter I worked at that I found indispensible:

      - one of those headlamp lights for hands-off work on servers (put this in the tool box)
      - a way to track who has the tools in the toolbox (check it at start and end of each shift and record such)
      - at least 2 cordless headset phones (ever try to move around a server room tied to a cord)
      - a supply of batteries for everything that needs them
      - a couple 7-day temperature gage chart recorders at various locations in the center + supply
      • As I process engineer, I'd like to smack anyone who suggests temperature/humidity chart recorders. They're a pain in the ass, you can't do anything with the data, and there are so many more elegant solutions. Check out [] , [] , or []
        • by Bandman ( 86149 )
          I think they're useful for trend spotting, and I use a live sensor with a nagios alert to alert me if my temperatures exceed tolerances I've set
      • by numbski ( 515011 ) *

        Amen, preach it brother. Can I get a hallelujah? :)

        (and for some reason that quote is tripping the lameness filter. good grief taco....)
        Where I work, some of the production servers are also the development servers, just with two instances of the app running. No money for separate servers, unfortunately.
        • by triso ( 67491 )

          Where I work, some of the production servers are also the development servers, just with two instances of the app running. No money for separate servers, unfortunately.
          Nothing is wrong with doing that as long as your company knows the risk and result of losing that server (i.e. it's not critical data.)
  • by gen0c1de ( 977481 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:28PM (#20051989)
    At the DC I work at we have a crap load of extra gear. Make sure you have one emergcy kit in your core room, ensure that no one is to use it unless it is an emergmcy. The kit should have but not limited to the following: screw drivers mounting screws/cage nuts knife (a Leatherman multi-tool) spare patch/cross-over cables (Copper) (various length) spare fibre patch cables (Various length) Cable tester (Copper/fibre) couplers for fibre fibre cleaning kits Patch panel punch tool spare hard ware for core gear We have more gear however i'm drawing a bit of a blank as I haven't needed to look at the kit for a while.
    • by Doctor Memory ( 6336 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @11:13PM (#20052445)
      • Electric drill (large, 1/2" or better) with appropriate bits
      • Bolt cutters
      • Oxy-acetylene cutting torch or plasma cutter
      • Det cord (Primacord 5 or equiv.) (10 ft.)
      • Semtex or C4 in 1/2kg packages (doz.)
      • Blasting caps (box)
      • Thermite (1/2kg)
      • Safety goggles

      For those times when the internal security system is working, but not according to spec...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TheLink ( 130905 )
        Also might come in handy when Skynet goes online.

        You missed out stuff like the shotgun though ;).
    • A hammer, for when you come in drunk and pissed off about how much the company makes and how little you make, and how much crap you have to deal with each day. Remember, you're drunk, so it would be best to hang one next to every entrance to the datacenter.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sumdumass ( 711423 )
        Surprisingly, I used to work with a guy who always joked about using a hammer to fix the computers. It scared a lot of the users because he actually carries it around with him and after fixing something he would drop a small piece of metal on the floor and strike it making it look like he hit the computer.

        You should see the look of horror on the users face when he did this. Management used to ask me if it was proper and I would tell them he was the senior tech so it must be. But it was hilarious to me.

        • I actually had some batteries that were swollen into a UPS last summer. I had to tear it down to get the batteries out. I ought to take pictures of the needle nose pliers that aren't so need-nosed anymore from arcing. ANYWAY...

          After I got them out, the frame was rather disfigured, but salvageable, but I needed a hammer to fix it. Off to Home Depot I go...

          What do you know...they have all kinds of small sledge hammers, but one stood out to me. It had a label on it:

          "Engineer's Hammer"

          Oh. Hell. Yes.

          • I have one of those. Unfortunately, it doesn't actually say "Engineer's Hammer" on it. I bought it because it reminded me of a certain mythologically excellent hammer.

            When I tell a tech, "Hey, pass me Mjolnir!" .. They will go to my tool box and retrieve the correct hammer. Either that, or they will be chided for possessing insufficient leetness.

  • Nice crash cart (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:36PM (#20052075)
    I've used crash carts from a company called Ergotron: efault.aspx []

    At my current and my past company, they work real well. I looked high and low for a good crash cart and nothing seemed to come close to these. Maybe I was just searching the wrong terms(and apparently my vendors were too). They are a bit pricey though, ~$1500 or so to start. I have a Styleview LCD cart at my current job, and had a LCD cart and a laptop cart at my last place (servers were co-located in a ~900 sq foot cage, 8 feet between rows, so plenty of space for the carts).

    I also bought a KVM over IP/CAT5 solution from raritan( []), which worked out real well for those situations where a serial console wasn't enough(unless you have fancy out of band management, some do, some don't). I setup tables in the front of the cage, hooked up a couple of the raritan hardware clients. Typically ran one CAT5 cable w/KVM hookup to each rack, so it could be plugged into any system fairly easily. Range of 1000 feet. This was pretty pricey too, with the adapters and all it was about $25k. Though in the grand scheme of things it was cheap at the time. I had cyclades terminal servers in every rack, with serial consoles on all the servers and network gear.

    Also I hooked up a temperature sensor board, from Sensatronics( []) I think. I think it was a 16 port board, and I bought all 300 foot cables for all of the sensors, and cut them to length. This ended up being about $5k I think(I went way overkill on the cable lengths).

    At my current company we use servertech( []) PDUs, their higher end models come with optional temperature/humidity sensors so we use those instead of the senatronics.

    Despite it being a co-location, we had 500kW of power going into that cage(standard setup was ~12kW/rack), if the data center had followed their own procedures(AT&T enterprise network services), we would of had to have about a 5,500 sq foot cage, comparable to your data center :) (@ 90 watts/sq foot of cooling). But they did not(at the time, they wised up July of last year and now strictly enforce their cooling capacity at this particular data center).

    posting as AC, since I don't have an account. I read slashdot daily but I post maybe once every 2-3 years, so I haven't bothered to make an account.
    • we use them here for medical electronic data capture carts. they'll sell you all the mouting brackets, arms, trolleys etc that you could possibly need. they aren't cheap, but they are good. i particularly like their "command post" system for putting pc workstations in hostile industrial environments...
    • Out of curiosity, which AT&T IDC do you use? We're operating out of their Lisle, IL building, and I know exactly what you mean about following their own power/cooling procedures (of course, when they're up against the wall on power and cooling, whose contracts do you think they breach first? Google's, eBay's, or the 2200-employee accounting firm leasing a five-rack cage?)

      Not that power and cooling SOP is the only victim - we were down for a cage move this last weekend; most of the times we walked into t
  • by r2q2 ( 50527 ) <> on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:42PM (#20052145) Homepage
    A zero point module to only be used for defence of the datacenter , powering the shield, or incase of power outages.
  • We are using a Presto Manual Stacker [] as a server lift at my Data Centre. Ours is hand cranked, but Presto also makes an electric variant [] that would be suitable.

  • by mdenham ( 747985 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:48PM (#20052211)
    ...a time machine, preferably in a Faraday cage (to shield your data center from unwanted interference), so you can implement the necessary changes a couple of months ago.
  • Monkey (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rinisari ( 521266 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @11:05PM (#20052393) Homepage Journal
    You need a monkey. Why? If a monkey can manage to bring down even a single server, you've not secured the place enough.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      speaking of which, I am willing to relocate for the right price.

      I am guaranteed to:

      1. get pizza grease in the keyboards
      2. turn up the heat during winter
      3. play with water balloons in the summer
      4. take the forklifts for joy rides
      5. let birds in
      6. use the meeting room to play video games (projectors rock)
      7. dual boot (everything) into a beowolf running windows on xen displayed in the meeting room so I can play super mario on my nintendo emulator (really fast like)
      8. label cables incorrectly
      9. lose tools
      10. replace them with
    • by meglon ( 1001833 )
      Monkeys (chimpanzees if you not on a first name basis with them) are used to supervise the trainees, at the rate of one chimp to two trainees... DUH!
    • In one data center I am aware of, half of the customers lost power when a customer's child switched off breakers on the UPS system. Their solution? They taped cardboard over the breaker switches.

      *That* is engineering, I tell you.
  • by GreggBz ( 777373 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @11:17PM (#20052499) Homepage
    Get a nice comfy Plantronics headset for the POTS line nearby. In a noisy datacenter, while on a mission critical tech support call, the last thing you need is your hand pressing the phone to your ear and/or crappy cell phone audio.
    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      I have a nice Plantronics headset and I can't hear anything in the datacenter itself. I always have to go out to the observation area to talk to the tech between performing requested actions. Not such a problem with a small or medium sized datacenter but I wonder how they deal with it in larger facilities.
  • A must... (Score:5, Funny)

    by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @11:44PM (#20052757) Homepage
    Would be a middle-aged Scottish man to sit in the middle of it with an intercom to say "She canna' take it any more!" when usage gets high.
    • I'd rather get the middle-aged Scottsman with the can do attitude of, "There's nary an animal alive that can outrun a greased Scotsman!" You never know when one of those will be indispensable.
  • Unless your data center is full of doctors, you should really use an AED [].

  • D Batteries (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @11:46PM (#20052785)
    We recently had a catastrophic failure of our data center. We had a planned generator test that went horribly wrong. Unfortunately we'd added so many computers that our battery backups only had 10 or 15 minutes of power. Unfortunately the computer operator missed something and everything went down hard. Except for one computer system.

    The Tandem that houses our main clinical application had this big array of D batteries. We'd always made fun of the administrators because of it, but miraculously it stayed up when everyone else went down. I now bow down before their primitive greatness.
    • Re:D Batteries (Score:5, Informative)

      by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @02:51AM (#20053911) Journal
      Funny story on a similar but not as large of scale.

      I have a small site with about 8 computers and 3 servers and there is wireless shooting to 3 other buildings with about 4-6 computer each in them about 50 feet apart. I was over ridden in our battery backup system in favor of $50 ups purchased for each computer separately at office max. I'm thinking OK, they are getting a generator and I told them to make sure it had a line conditioner and was certified to work with sensitive computer equipment. besides, when it was just the one building, the UPS worked just fine.

      They ignored that and one the test, after all the batteries went down, the computer just quit because the UPS software conflicted with a proprietary app the chose to use. I was called in by the guy who installed the generator and was told that about 20 of the UPS were bad. I though ok, they have been there for a couple of years in some cases and brought down some replacements. I swapped them out, they tested it again and before I got back to the shop I got a call saying more of them were bad. All the local sources were out and the electrician told me he had better backups so I told him to get them. after swapping them out I asked to make sure that they had a clean electrical line coming off the generator and they assured me there was.

      Two weeks later, a car hits a telephone pole, the electric was out for more then 10 hours. All the UPS units went out, None of the computers would work. I tested the electrical line and it was jumping between 70 and 150 volts at about 40 hertz. All the ups shut down and wouldn't take power, they decided to plug the computers directly into the wall outlets and took two main boards out, three power supplies and the rest of the computers just wouldn't power up.

      The data base on one of the applications got corrupted beyond repair and they had to recreate a weeks worth of entries because the drive got corrupted on the backup server too when the main board went out and no one had made the external backup in over 5 days. The phone system was borked, a 64 inch plasma TV in the lobby was gone, and various other things needed replaced because they acted weird from then on out. The line conditioners should have been about $90 per outlet or about $2000 for one capable of regulating all the power coming from the generator. In the end, it costs around $10,000 in replacements, labor and everything plus they ended up buying a new generator and this time getting a power control system that was certified for sensitive electronics.

      Bad power will cause so many problems it isn't funny. Most people don't even know that a generator can be out of whack on output. Not all of them are created alike. Small things like how fast they can adjust to the load pulling from them and how stable the current is isn't a given. You have to make sure it is there or end up with broken electronic every time the power goes out and it kicks on.
    • In the data center I used to work in, the battery backups (all 20 tons of it) was only meant to give around 15 minutes of power. It was there to give the generators time to spin up. If the generators failed and you couldn't get the center back on street power before 15 minutes were up, I would have expected everything to go down.

      How long did you expect the battery backups to last?

  • $50 is not too much to spend on a screwdriver []. Especially when you want it to work 100% of the time and work smoothly. I can't count the number of bogus $25 "ratchet" screwdrivers my bosses used to buy from Home Depot. I've had my Snap-On for 10 years and I'll probably have it many, many more.

    Plus, if you have decent tools, there's a chance people won't destroy them first chance they get and not replace them.
    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )
      Plus, if you have decent tools, there's a chance people won't destroy them first chance they get and not replace them.

      Rather, if you get decent tools they won't destroy them the first chance they get... they just won't return them :P
      • by xrayspx ( 13127 )
        Also true. That's why that screwdriver almost never goes to an office with people.

        "Post 9/11" I took it with me to Bermuda, I made it through terminal security at 3 airports and gate security for two flights. The guy at the gate for my third flight said "we have to toss this", I was like "NO, you're not costing me $50 for a new screwdriver". I don't know why I wasn't gunned down for that (this was at Kennedy), but he let me on the plane. That's so not like me either, but I wasn't letting that thing g
    • by forq ( 133285 )
      Additionally, one should buy a steady supply of $4.97 #2 Robertson [] & $3.97 #2 Philips [] screwdrivers , which are the most commonly required screwdrivers in the data centre, to complement your $50 'multi-tip' unit, and only lend out the cheap ones. That way the prick that steals your screwdriver isn't depriving you of anything you'll miss.

    • We had a major problem with tools "walking" away when building our DC. Too many contractors, outsiders, and poorly-disciplined insiders. It was a MAJOR headache, with many hours lost hunting, deadlines missed, tempers and bad feelings, etc.

      I went to the local big-box store and bought Plasti-Dip in five different colors. (Plasti-Dip is a liquid coating you dip the handles of tools into. It cures to a nice, thick, insulating layer, and makes for a good grip, too.) I assembled five complete sets of tool
  • Don't guess! (Score:5, Informative)

    by martyb ( 196687 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @12:40AM (#20053213)

    I've seen several good suggestions already with specific suggestions on tools or parts. Start with those. My suggestion is quite simple, actually: Why GUESS what you need, when you can find out for sure?

    Tear down one ENTIRE rack. (Or several, if they have any variations.)

    1. Pull out ALL the servers.
    2. Pull out ALL the switches and routers.
    3. Disconnect ALL the cables.
    4. Unscrew EVERY screw and EVERY bolt.
    5. Disassemble each different server's internals:
      1. Pull out EVERY board.
      2. Remove the power supplies.
      3. Pull out the motherboards.
    6. Ditto for any COMMs hardware (e.g. cards, etc.)

    Now, look at this big pile of parts in front of you and imagine what you would do WHEN *ANY* one of them breaks.

    Get several spares for each of those parts and put into the cart.

    Whatever tools you needed for disassembly, put into a crash cart.

    Then make another, identical cart. When the brown stuff hits the spinnie thingie, and multiple systems are down, the last thing you want to be doing is fighting over tools. Get spares of EVERYTHING so at least TWO people can work on things at the same time! You'll thank me when there's two of you trying to work on both sides of a rack.

    NOTE: Be sure to inventory what you put into each cart! Tools have a way of growing legs and you want to be able to check and make sure that you STILL have ALL the tools.

    And please consider getting a big-ass UPS for your cart (At least 1KVA). If your power is wonky, you want to be sure your cart's equipment (laptop, hub, switch, router, etc.) won't be flaking out as the power comes and goes. Even with the power out, you can plug one server into the UPS and restore/repair it while the power is still out. While you're at it, also get some LONG extension cords (100-foot) made of AT LEAST 12-gauge wire. Plug the UPS into the extension cord.

    Think you're all set? Now, using ONLY the tools on ONE crash cart, put the rack back together. With the power out. (i.e. no mains)

    When you have done this, not only will you be CERTAIN that you have all the tools you needed to [re]assemble everything, you'll actually have done so and will have run into (hopefully) most of the problems that you could encounter.

    That's it off the top of my head. Best of luck to you! P.S. One last thing: MANY rolls of Duct Tape! <grin>

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gbjbaanb ( 229885 )
      Think you're all set? Now, using ONLY the tools on ONE crash cart, put the rack back together. With the power out. (i.e. no mains)

      "ok, we've got every tool known to man, now hit the power - lets run the disaster recovery drill."

      "umm... we did buy a torch, didn't we?...."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dpilot ( 134227 )
      Now that you mention it, did you include some sort of work lights on that crash cart? I don't think I've seen anyone mention work lights yet, or maybe that's such a given that nobody felt it was worth mentioning.
      • by afidel ( 530433 )
        At Cisco we had a rechargable flashlight with a nightlite type strip on the back in every rack. That way you were never without one and during an outage when you are running on emergency lighting you were sure to have a working light.
      • by daeg ( 828071 )
        I'd recommended work lights with LED bulbs. They don't require as much power, are very bright and "clean" light, and don't kick off extra heat (something you never need when dealing with power issues).
  • by Seakip18 ( 1106315 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:15AM (#20053367) Journal
    I'd suggest extreme emergency supplies for situations where extra cables and backup supplies will prove fruitless.
    This includes, but not limited to:
    A bottle of whisky
    A bottle of scotch
    A glass
    A Shotgun, pref with ammo
    Sleeping pills
    Pep pills....

    In all seriousness, a good first aid kit should be in the center. Nothing sucks more than a dull headache and not having any asprin for it.
    Plus, when someone cuts their hand on a server rack, it'll patch their hands up to keep them from bleeding all over them.
    • by grantek ( 979387 )

      Yeah, your datacenter could be key in coordinating the frantic research and resource distribution after an outbreak of the virus that reanimates dead flesh.

      I'd suggest in addition:

      • Piping to obtain condensed water from the air conditioning
      • Radio transmitters/receivers
      • Several more shotguns with ammo
      • Several machetes/fire axes for when the ammo runs out
      • Non-perishable food
      • Alcohol swabs and empty syringes/needles
      • Lots of morphine
      • Milla Jovovich
    • ... a guy could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

      - Maj. T.J. 'King' Kong (dec.)
  • I've used a bunch of different crash carts and the best by far is the old standby AV cart with a monitor keyboard and mouse strapped to the top. Its cheap, it fits down the aisles and it has lots of convenient flat space on which to set tools, screws, cds and whatever else you need to solve the current problem. 23676--RUB9T28 []
  • I agree 100% about the meds, make sure to have a stack of headache tablets (my personal preference is neurofen) in your first aid cabinet. Theres nothing worse than a headache when you are trying to solve a problem/disaster when your brain feels like it's oozing out of your ears due to the noisy machines.
  • Spares (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sobrique ( 543255 )
    A decent spares store.

    Computer hardware isn't so much an issue - although, if you don't have some kind of maintenance contract, you want at least 2 of everything, up to and including 'entire servers'.

    Depending on how much you're doing 'in house' things like cagenuts, spare cable management thingies, and tools to deploy said items will save a lot of grief.

    Serial cables, and consoles, if you're running unix hardware. Get a set that you _know_ works. All too often you only ever need these when things hav

  • Armed Guards. With dogs possibly.
    • Yes, the dogs are the key point here. You don't want the Allies spy sneaking in and shutting down the 'In Soviet Russia...' manufacturing system and stealing your credits.
  • Lots of good ideas out there, here's a few more I don't think I saw.

    Label maker. Preferably a decent one that can take different types of labels for different types of cables. Then go crazy with it. This will be a few hours of tedious work (but what are PFY, erm, Jr. Admins for?), and well worth it when you need it.

    We have a large locking toolbox for our tools since they kept on walking. Funny, place is quite secure for servers, but screwdrivers ended up being left in pockets.

    Talking about secure, if yo
  • One of those little toy alligator mouths on a stick. The ones that you pull a lever in the handle and the mouth opens and closes. I can't tell you how many times I have wished I had one of those in my server rack - for when I drop things from the ladder, or want to grab the end of a cable, or hold a few cables approximately in place while I move something, or want to tap a coworker on the shoulder because he can't hear me over the constant noise.
  • I would think you have a service contract for your power and mechanical systems but I would at least get:

    - a drain snake and a drain cleaner. If you go to grainger, they have one that runs on co2 carts(like an air rifle uses). Condensation lines from air handlers will clog from time-to-time and the under-floor water detection system will alert you when you have a drain back up (you did get an under-floor water detection system?)

    - a shop vac. to pull up any water should a drain back up.

    - a multimeter with
  • A few more items (Score:3, Informative)

    by Critical Facilities ( 850111 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @10:04AM (#20056887)
    I'd say you'll thank yourself if you have some of these items:

    A Spot Cooler []- If you have a CRAC unit crap out and need some coverage while replacing part(s).

    Replacement compressor(s) []

    A variety of above floor fans, [] and below floor fans [] (in case of water under the floor).

    As many spare breakers [] as they'll let you buy. (that UPS is no good to you with a bad breaker downstream of it).

    Don't just get tarps, get these tarps. []

    Extra long load bank cables []. Have your electrician make them up for you. If you make them extra long and store them onsite, you can use them to jumper out inside switchgear if you suffer a catastrophic failure (it might be ugly, but if done right, it can save your ass).

    Flashlights [] that will work.

    Hand operated pumps []. If you have a pump fail and you need to get diesel fuel from your storage tanks to the "day tanks" of you generators, you'll be glad this is on the shelf.

    A megger. []

    A phase rotation meter. []

    A good circuit tracer. []

    That's a pretty good start.
  • The first time we had an A/C drain problem flooding under the raised floor, we had only a small shop vac to remove the water. Took forever, and I was amazed we lost no power. The next time we had a bigger shop vac-- more powerful, more volume, bigger hose, and we cleaned that sucker out in no time.

    Make sure you have water alarms under the floor as well. Ideally they notify someone directly when there's a problem.

    Flashlights by the doors. Preferably rechargeable, and plugged in. But at least available,
  • Might be helpful (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:59PM (#20063721) Homepage
    When I was in the Navy, I operated a largish weapons control system... After we left the shipyards our big 'stuff' problem came down to two: ('Mike' ia a) a pseduonym and b) not me, I swear. I was the responsible for the tools and spent a lot of time getting after 'Mike'.)
    1. Documentation
      Keep it current, keep it organized keep it available, and dammit Mike, put the pubs @$#%#@ back where they belong when you aren't using them!
    2. Tools
      Common hand tools in this box, commonly used special tools in that one. Rarely used tools in this other one. And dammit Mike, put the @$#%#@ tools back in the @$#%#@ box and put the @$#%#@ box where it @$#%#@ belongs when you aren't using them!

    The main key is less in having lots of stuff than in keeping what you do have organized and available.
  • Once you try it, you will never go back

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers