is recommended, especially prior to maintenance of equipment.
In addition to having updated documentation that shows the
relationship between the electrical components in your data
center, you should also have a map or elevation drawing that
shows the physical location of components. Whether added to
the one-line diagram or a separate document, some type of equipment map should be posted, allowing all who access your data
center to reference. Having quick access to this information will
save valuable time during regular maintenance, and more importantly, during an outage.
Cover Emergency Off Buttons
One of the most consistent human errors in the data center
involves emergency off buttons or emergency power off (EPO)
buttons. There may be a button in different zones within a data
center (local EPO) and/or a system-wide button (global EPO) that
is generally located near a door. Many times, these buttons are
not covered or labeled and are mistakenly pushed which shuts
down power to a zone or an entire data center. Unintentional shut
downs can easily be avoided by labeling and covering emergency
off buttons. This covering can be as simple as a small cage that is
open to use, yet prevents an inadvertent push. Security cameras
can also help identify EPO offenders who “plead the fifth” or
simply profess an equipment malfunction.
Stay Informed of System Performance
Having a way to frequently assess the performance of the
data center is very important, especially for unmanned locations.
Ignorance of alarms or how to address them is, in itself, a human
error. Often alarms put equipment into bypass mode, and if unattended for an extended period of time, will lead to the loss of the
load. Being unaware of equipment alarms is detrimental to business-critical continuity. Whether monitored locally or remotely,
data centers need to have a system in place so that alarms can be
Another way of staying informed is to pay close attention to
any equipment change notices distributed by data center equipment manufacturers. Taking action according to these notices,
some of which are safety related, will help ensure maximum
Avoid Data Center Contaminants
Not maintaining indoor air quality can cause unwanted dust
particles and debris to enter servers and other IT infrastructure.
This problem can be alleviated by having all personnel who
access the data center wear antistatic booties or placing a mat
outside the data center. Moving equipment inside the data center
increases the chances that fibers from boxes and pallets will end
up in server racks and other IT equipment. Therefore, equipment
should always be packed and unpacked outside of the data center.
Other human-inflicted contaminants can be introduced via
new equipment such as air economizers, which bring in outside
air that can contain impure particles. Many times, this air also
doesn’t meet humidity requirements. Policies should be in place
to ensure new equipment meets all standards and requirements
for the data center.
Secure Cages and Racks to Protect Equipment
Preventing unwanted contaminants/unauthorized persons
from affecting the availability of the data center can be avoided by
enclosing equipment in lockable, wire security cages and racks.
These racks should be locked and key access controlled. Wire
mesh partitions are perfect because they can fit nearly any con-
figuration from a continuous long wall, to doors between blade
server racks, to secure access. An advantage to using cages is
that they don’t inhibit ventilation or heat discharge. By having a
locked, secure cage, employees such as janitorial services, sales-
people, or maintenance crews who need access to the room can
perform their duties without disrupting servers.
Ahmad Moshiri is director of power technical support at Emerson
Network Power, Liebert Services and is an expert in data center critical
equipment maintenance and business continuity. For more information
on technologies and services from Emerson Network Power, visit www.