Yesterday, I met with the contractors at our new building to go over wiring plans, materials, and plans for our server room. As mentioned before in my post, Project: New Server Room- Plans/Design, I will be using a new server rack, cooling system, UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply), and plan on having the entire building ran with overhead cable trays. During the discussion, our contractors had several questions concerning how we want everything to look and function.
The methods we use to run cables to the entire building (which includes multiple bays) are vital to the initial implementation stage as well as future expansions. In areas with drop ceilings, cables can be quickly set up and arranged, all hidden from view. However, due to the desired design, my company loves the idea of having exposed wires running alongside the wall, held up by white cable trays; the contrast between the colored cables and the white trays should be quite appealing. As cable trays can be somewhat expensive, there are several shortcuts we could have taken to reduce the amount of material we would require, such as routing the cable trays through the open area in the middle of our building; thankfully, we all agreed that having a cable tray visible in this area would eliminate the open-air feeling of the entire building. In the end, we decided to use cable trays on pretty much every exterior wall, around 9 ft. high, which further increases security by reducing the risk of wiretapping and such.
Our new building will have a dedicated server room to hold our new server rack, cooling equipment, and additional IT-related supplies. To ensure we have enough room, it was imperative to talk at great length with the contractors. One issue we found was the position of the door; while this seems like a simple thing, the placement of the door had changed since our latest inspection. Since the door opens outwards, we do not lose any room into the actual server room, however, now that the server room’s door is closer to the north side of the building, we will have to place our server rack closer to the south side of the room; later, I found that this change would be beneficial due to allowing the rack to be closer to where our cable trays will be. The contractors also asked where our ADT security hardware will be installed (in our server rack) and asked if we wished to increase our electrical connections in our server room (in case we decided to upgrade our UPS at some point). The ADT question was important because ADT often prefers a dedicated power outlet.
Second Bay (Customer Entrance)
We have acquired a second bay in the new building that is currently occupied by a separate company; this bay will be used as our storefront where customers can enter. To connect our warehouse with this different bay, we will be using four switches, two in our warehouse and two in our customer service bay. By using two switches to separate the data and phone lines, we will have greater control of future expansions, as well as increased redundancy. The switches in our warehouse will be installed within the rack, while the switches in the customer service bay will be installed on a smaller, wall-mounted cabinet-style rack.
Concerns with Building’s Phone/Data Room
In many buildings, they will have a shared room which houses all of the different company’s external data and phone connections; this room is where your ISP will provide you with your internet. While my company will own the entire building and lease to the current residents, this room will still be shared by all. In my initial inspection of the room, I found the door to be unlocked, had a large amount of cleaning supplies in it, and many of the connections were not protected by any form of covering. For those who do not know, it is quite easy to tap into a data cable to access a network; to prevent this from happing, conduit or another form of protected covering should be used. Once we move in, I will make a goal of cleaning this room out, increasing the physical security (door locks, cameras), and working with the necessary vendors to protect the current data/phone connections, as well as ours. After all, even with the most advanced security in your office, the point that a company such as Cox uses to provide you with your internet is still vulnerable if the proper protective measures are not applied.
Overall, the meeting was very enlightening for me. Due to my time studying electrical engineering in college, it was nice to be able to dust off some of my knowledge in the conversations with the contractors. While I did wish we would have done the wiring ourselves, it was cheaper to have the contractors do it. The building’s development is well underway and appears to be right on schedule. I can’t wait to get in there and build the network from the ground up; I can’t think of a better way to beef up my IT resume.