Building a SOHO Data Center v3
by Khaled Nassar
Tips for SOHO data center
SOHO businesses start small and they largely depend on IT to be able much
with few resources. By time the IT infrastructure of a SOHO grows
bigger than just a couple of computers, this is when the problem
starts to be realized. This white paper will introduce some tips on
how to maintain you SOHO data center and then illustrates a case
study on how a very small data center could be managed and developed
in an efficient way that does not compromise the look and feel of the
Case study: Stacked computers to 90% integration with house decoration.
Buy or build a KVM
Build a simple telephone switchboard.
But together a USB switchboard.
Implement small racks and shelves where possible.
Do not stack computers.
Make sure all equipment is accessible from front and rear.
Tag all cables at both ends with a unique code.
Use Excel sheets to manage your inventory (assets' registry).
Use a facade that covers all the equipment.
Hide cables, hide cables and hide cables.
Use remote desktop applications and a laptop.
Buy and keep a fire distinguisher reachable.
Prepare a diagram with all physical connections.
Print out a trouble shooting manual.
If possible subscribe to 2 ISP's to maintain availability.
Use fixed IP address for internal and public addresses.
Properly secure your wireless network.
Keep a resource kit with all the tools (screw drivers, jumpers, etc.), operating systems and recovery CD's nearby.
Must have a backup policy.
Use decorations to hide excess cables.
Distribute power resources.
Tighten power plugs.
Use a blower and a vacuum cleaner to clean the place.
Use A/C and a fan to keep temperature.
A treaty with the cleaning lady.
Huge desk with everything under it. 5 screens above and loads of cables.
Hiding the KVM. A success for the look and feel.
Few visible cables are attached to power and phone sources.
Everything but the laptop and main console is under the desk.
6 servers, scanner, speakers, printer telephone set, USB hub box, Ethernet HUB, Rack, KVM. Many things are stacked which is not so good when you need to move something or troubleshoot a problem.
The rack holds the switch, 2 routers, external modem, all power strips, phone switchboard and the manual KVM.
Clean desktop. Front view.
Nice view, certainly nicer than before. Main problems are:
There is very limited access to the back of the datacenter
Some equipment are horizontally stacked
Some cables are still visible.
Moving the whole data center
The biggest disadvantages of the previous setup are:
Hard maintainability as the backs of the machine are unreachable
except if you bend over yourself in very irritating position.
Combined with the heat and dust it becomes really annoying.
Over heat .
Hard to clean from dust.
Eventually I decided to move it into a rack. The problem with
computer racks at home office is that it looks very out of context.
So whats wrong with designing a rack that has the same look and feel
as the house?
are some of the ideas. This is a normal piece of furniture. The back
was removed for heat, cleaning and accessibility. It is easily
transformed into a rack.
The right side: bottom up, Server shelf, Ethernet Shelf, PSTN shelf.
The middle drawers: bottom up, Storage drawer, tool kit drawer, laptop drawers
Left shelf: 3 server, old mac used to add hight to the one screen (instead of 7), DVD, manual KVM.
Some pictures of the backside cabling
These are just tips though, there is a lot of room for creativity.
When its locked no one will know that there is a small data center here.
Back lights on.
Front lights off