Server Room Consolidation Pictures

Shortly before I left Jai Kudo they moved office from Hill House in London to Centennial Park in Elstree. The new building had no network infrastructure at all. This forced a shift from reusing existing chunks infrastructure left by previous companies to installing a coherent network of their own. I was heavily involved in specifying that network and building the new server room. Here are some before and after pictures.

Before: Hill House

Jai Kudo occupied four distinct areas of Hill House, each let separately by the landlord and hence more or less self contained. Each of these, apart from one stockroom, was fitted with reasonably good structured cabling leading back to a single point in each area but with only limited connections between the areas.

The phone system was located on the first floor (because that is where the BT fibre connections came in) and bundles of phone uplink cables went to the other three areas. This meant that patching a phone extension to another area required patching it from the PABX to an uplink cable at one end, and from the other end of the uplink cable to the user’s desk. It introduced a unwelcome level of indirection but it was OK so long as you kept a spreadsheet of what was connected where. There were also some ad-hoc analogue phone lines elsewhere in the building. These could not easily be moved so, as departments moved office, they sometimes got patched down an uplink cable and then back up another uplink cable to a different area.

The network core was located on the second floor, because that was where the server room was. There was neither space nor adequate air conditioning to consolidate it with the PABX on the first floor. That contained all the servers except the supplemental mini-servers supporting the PABX (voicemail etc). Each area had one or more switches and these were fed from the network core by gigabit uplink cables, some of which I had to thread between the areas myself. There was no raised floor so the cables went in the suspended ceiling.

All racks were inherited from previous occupants and set up in a way that made it hard to keep them tidy. The exception being the one in the server room which I set up from scratch and hence was rather tidier than the others.

After: Centennial Park

New Server Room. Everything consolidated in three racks.

This is more like it!

At Centennial Park the entire network is fed from a single point for both network and phones. Doing away with uplinks, and the bulky old Siemens PABX, enabled everything to fit into three racks. This time I insisted on having access space behind each rack so it is possible to walk right round the group of racks. All the big bundles of cables feed in through a hole in the floor underneath the rightmost rack. This enables the backs of the racks to have some use and makes it possible to pack more stuff in.

Patch panels, network switches and copious cable guides are interleaved in the rightmost rack so that most patch cables can be short and reasonably tidy despite the high cable density there. The PABX sits in the middle rack, as does the network core, KVM and the new VMWare servers with the UPSes at the bottom. The leftmost rack contains the old main Windows servers largely made irrelevant by the VMWare platform but still hosting some legacy applications which are being phased out, as well as the tape drives. Supplemental mini-servers, including the ones for the PABX also live there.

The server room has dedicated air conditioning and all areas of the building, apart from the warehouse, have raised floors allowing cables to be distributed under the floor.

Now I know that it probably still looks like a mess to many of you, and I am sure that there are many server rooms with tidier cabling, but it is a massive improvement. It was done very quickly and on a very tight budget. I am very proud of it.

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May 3, 2010. Daniel, IT, Pictures, Sensible.

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