rule of threes, assisted lifting device, ALD, for moving servers in data centers

Moving Servers in Data Centers: The Rule of Threes

You’ve heard of the “rule of three’s.” In Latin, omne trium perfectum,roughly translated, means “everything that comes in threes is perfect.” We agree.

At ServerLIFT, we think constantly about moving servers in data centers. OK, so we’re a bit obsessive. But what are the fundamental functions required to move heavy data center hardware?

What we discovered is that, in fact, there are only three server-handling functions any lifting machine needs to do in order to be baseline useful in any data center:

  • Transport
  • Position
  • Install/Remove

Sure, there are plenty of nice features and benefits that a lift can have, but without these three, the rest doesn’t really matter.

Data Center Heaving Lifting and the Rule of Threes

The migration and manual handling of data center equipment continues to be the “dirty little secret” that plagues and distracts us from the real work of operating a data center. But an assisted lifting device (ALD) takes the physical lifting out of data center equipment migration. Our clients share data proving that using these devices not only mitigates risk of injury when lifting heavy equipment, but also increases the speed of server deployment.

Here are the criteria to meet the rule of threes in data center hardware migration.

Transport

Servers don’t just show up by themselves in the right rack in the right aisle. Transporting IT equipment around the data center facility, from dock to rack, is a critical activity of daily operations.

  1. You need a server lift that can move heavy equipment throughout the data center, from the loading dock to the racks. That means through standard doors, over ramps, and into passenger elevators.
  2. Your server lift should fit an aisle as narrow at 48” without having to do a 360 to position equipment.
  3. It should roll easily over floor obstructions such as grated tiles, door thresholds, or cord protectors; some lifts fall short of this requirement and may necessitate a completely smooth service area before undertaking a migration.

Position

Positioning and aligning servers and switches in a multitude of environments and configurations can mean the difference between assisted server handling and going back to the dangerous and inefficient method of manual lifting.

  1. Once you’ve navigated your way to the rack, you must be able to move the data center equipment to the right height – even to the top of a non-standard rack (48U, 52U, or even 58U high), the very bottom of a rack, or even to the floor.
  2. The equipment must be aligned side to side so that it’s level with connection points or rails during installation into, or during removal from, the rack.
  3. If you are dealing with servers that attach to the rack using drop-in or slotted rails, you must be able to support the angle of the equipment during install or removal.

Install

What good would it be to go through the effort of procuring an ALD unless it fully assists in making the process of installing and removing equipment to and from the rack as easy as possible?

  1. You must be able to safely move equipment into and out of the rack and support it in place while you use two hands to secure it to the rails or posts.
  2. Effective moves require full access to the mounting and connection points work freely on the server from the front or sides.
  3. When installing or removing equipment, the lift must not budge, even if you are pushing a server weighing hundreds of pounds from the platform to the rack or vice versa. Lifts that don’t meet this requirement and move around while transferring servers (on or off platforms) can create as much danger as not using an ALD at all.

ServerLIFT is the Only ALD to Meet the Rule of Threes

Of course, we have to point out that ServerLIFT is the only Assisted Lifting Device (ALD) for data centers on the market today that anyone can use to perform all three of these crucial functions for any piece of equipment, in any rack, in any data center, anywhere on the planet.

With ServerLIFT, you have the opportunity to go from the box or pallet into the rack (or vice versa) in at least half the time. Not to mention that adopters of ServerLIFT solutions boast a reported 100% safety record. That’s zero operator injuries and zero equipment damage.

The truth about date center safety

What is the Number One Secret to Data Center Safety?

Instinctively, you know that preventing on-the-job injuries is vital. But, you may not be focusing on what is actually the biggest risk of injury in the data center environment.

Data Center Safety Not Focused on Biggest Risk

Why is it that when we mention data center safety, the first thing most data center managers think of is reducing hearing loss by blocking the noise pollution from the ambient sounds of cooling fans and the beeping, humming data center environment? Or, they worry about fire hazards or even electrocution.

The biggest risk, however, is something that your engineers and maintenance teams probably do every day without thinking. But it’s the one thing that actually exponentially increases your onsite risk for a safety snafu.

Why is it ok for data center workers, normally hired for their brain (not their brawn) to lift heavy hardware? Everyone does it, but no one seems to be talking about it. The truth is, you can enact every safety measure that will lessen the risk of injury, but if you don’t introduce something to lessen the heavy lifting, your liability goes up.

Limited Facts on Server Handling Injuries

OSHA reports the following as the most frequent injuries in an industrial environment:

  • Falls
  • Struck by object
  • Electrocutions
  • Caught-in/between

The Lancet, a well-respected publisher of social health-related findings, states that low back pain is the leading cause of human disability around the world.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps tabs on the volume of nonfatal injuries in the U.S. via their Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program. Their most recent records from 2015 show:

  • Close to $3 million reported cases of on-the-job injuries that year.
  • The average number of days missed per injury incident was 8.
  • There were 324,700 incidents involving “sprains, strains, tears.”
  • 155,740 were back injuries.
  • 238,610 were cases that involved slips, falls, and trips.

While lifting heavy equipment is one of the most common tasks in today’s data center, it’s rare to find an onsite policy that eliminates risky procedures that threaten equipment and the people that try to migrate it.  While data specific to server-handling injuries and equipment damage is largely unavailable or inconclusive, we think having even one employee injured in your data center is one too many.

Preventative Maintenance Starts with an Assisted Lifting Device (ALD)

The architects of today’s data centers are increasingly concerned with preventative maintenance. That’s because IT has shifted from a back-office function to the core of business today. You’ve got a lot riding on ensuring data center uptime, guarding against cyber breach, and creating redundancy.

It might startle you to realize you are missing one piece in your preventative maintenance plan – that is to ensure against the risk of employee injury by using an assisted lifting device (ALD).

What is the number one secret to data center safety?

There is only one thing you can do to reduce the risk of physical injury when installing or decommissioning new hardware. Data center safety really starts when you take the heavy lifting out of equipment installation with an ALD.

data centers, IoT, connectivity, capacity management, workflows

Growth of IoT Threatens Data Center Efficiency, Including Moving Servers

data centers, IoT, connectivity, capacity management, workflows This year we’ve noticed a trend in data centers; infrastructure management is struggling to keep up with the demand for connectivity. A lot of this can be blamed on the growth from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and the data they capture. The growth of IoT threatens data center efficiency.

As data center managers are being tasked to handle bigger data loads, do you really think they have time to assemble a team of three or four employees to physically move data center equipment? It’s the last thing a data center manager should have to worry about.

Gartner predicts that over half of all the new business processes on the market by 2020 will be IoT-centric. This will challenge data center managers to handle the wealth of additional information these sensors capture and bring to the enterprise. Data center managers will also increasingly be called upon to extend their responsibilities around security, as more IoT devices will mean additional threat vectors that must be mitigated.

IoT and Capacity Management

The Internet of Things connects remote sensors that provide a steady data stream. This data can be harnessed and integrated into existing enterprise processes. The IoT is now everywhere — and it’s changing how hospitals monitor discharged patients, how cities respond to traffic patterns, and even how police monitor and respond to gunshots. In the data center, IoT devices are being used to monitor energy efficiency, server room temperature, humidity, and more.

But all this data will increasingly push data center managers to deliver on the scalability promised by our digital architectures. Proactively managing capacity is job one for data center managers tasked with responding to the demands of the IoT.

If Gartner’s crystal ball is correct, data centers will soon be struggling with the volume and velocity of data flooding in from the roughly 26 billion IoT devices in use by 2020. From a hardware perspective, this will require additional capacity, faster upgrades, and perhaps even the deployment of distributed mini data centers designed to aggregate more data, more quickly.

How quickly you can deploy, consolidate, and deconfigure data center equipment will have a big impact on how you respond to these demands.

Streamlining Data Center Workflows

With data centers evolving and their capacity expanding, the last task the forward-thinking data center manager needs to worry about is the physical migration of hardware. Yet we’ve found that the lifting and maneuvering of servers into racks in the data center is one of those processes that is rarely evaluated for its effectiveness and safety.

As the demands for data center managers increase, server relocation, replacement, and installation will increasingly require planning and implementation time that you simply do not have. As pressures increase to expand data centers to handle IoT data, speed-to-launch will become increasingly important. Utilizing an assisted lifting device (ALD) cuts the physical migration of data center equipment in half — or more.

It’s clear that the data center of the future will discard cumbersome processes. Assisted lifting devices (ALDs) are part of the growing family of data center infrastructure technologies designed to deploy technology with the speed and efficiency demanded by the IoT.

 

ServerLIFT Delivered and Ready to Use: Detailed Account by ReadySpace

ServerLIFT POWER8 server relocationWe just discovered this great article showing the uncrating and use of an SL-350X ServerLIFT, offered by IBM as the POWER8 Lift Tool. The POWER8 was one of the first IBM systems where Big Blue standardized on ServerLIFT solutions as their server lift tool of choice.

The story shows how the ReadySpace folks used a POWER8 Lift Tool to decommission their IBM Power E870 server and send it back, after beta testing it. There’s some info about how they shut down the Power E870 (which, humorously, displayed “Goodbye Cruel World!” on its screen just before shutdown), then how they unboxed and then used the POWER8 Lifting Tool to remove their Power E870 server.

Step-by-step – Putting the Server Lift to Work

Lots of pictures here – you’ll feel like you’re there – showing some of the more interesting details of the server lift and how to use it, step-by-step. We were impressed with the ReadySpace team’s ability to convey the parts of the server lift and how they are used effectively to transport, position, and remove a server.

(Note that this is our manual hand-crank model – which, in order not to fatigue your arm and shoulder, is most appropriate when you have infrequent server moves. If you frequently move servers, though, the powered models make a lot more sense – and save on the cranking.)

Read the full article here.

increase your data center efficiency

Three Practices to Help Increase Data Center Efficiency

According to a 2016 Ponemon Institute study, the average cost of a single data center outage increased from $505,502 in 2010 to almost $740,357 last year. At this rate, a single outage could cost your data center upwards of $1 million by 2022.

The largest cost of an outage is the disruption to business, followed by lost revenue. Costs from IT activities were also significant in the cost of an outage. What’s more, human error was responsible for 22 percent of outages in the most recent survey of data center problems. This illustrates the need for an approach that improves data center efficiency from many different angles – not just a technology angle.

It’s not enough to try and avoid unexpected downtime. More and more data center managers are taking a proactive approach to increasing efficiency and cutting costs. Implementing a really effective mechanical server lifting and equipment handling solution, and better energy efficiency standards can both help a lot. Here are some common tactics implemented by managers seeking to improve data center efficiency in that regard:

Reduce Cooling Power Consumption

A typical data center uses approximately half of the power available for running IT equipment, allocating most of the remainder to cooling. In fact, cooling costs are now so extreme that some Fortune 500 companies are experimenting with underwater server farms.

In order to cut down on overall cooling costs, identifying and eliminating inefficiencies in your cooling system is essential. This could mean upgrading your cooling system or making a better use of outside air. This should not be a one-time upgrade, but an ongoing process to adapt and evolve.

Virtualize the Space

One of the biggest culprits of waste in data centers is limited server utilization. When servers aren’t properly utilized, a lot of energy will go to waste, which isn’t good for the bottom line or the environment. Virtualizing your servers can increase utilization from 10% to almost 30%, and is worth looking into.

Choose the Right Server-Handling Technology

Of course we think that server lifts are important pieces of technology in a data center. Not only can they improve safety in the data center by helping employees avoid injury, they can also increase efficiency. This is especially true if you are moving servers frequently or trying to move servers quickly from one area or data center to another. A server lift designed specifically for a server center will also be compact enough for the aisles between racks, and will be able to handle the lifting heights required in a typical rack configuration.

Selecting the right server lift for your data center must take into account:

  • weight capacity
  • platform rigidity
  • operator’s access to the server during use (especially important if the server needs to be lined up to seat properly)
  • the turning radius and footprint of the machine
  • safety certifications
  •  lift power.

You will also want to decide if a manual or powered solution is best – manual versions can wear out the operator when moving a number of servers, and also require that the operator is standing behind the unit rather than hear the lifting mechanism and rack. In addition, you’ll want to consider if the lift is going to be able to scale with you as your data center grows.

Saving a few dollars on the wrong lifting equipment could end up costing you much more time and money in the long run if you’re not careful.

how to install servers into racks

How to Install a Server Into a Rack in 7 Steps

Picture of Steve BashkinDo your data center employees know how to install a server into a rack? There’s little point in a lifting solution for your servers if they aren’t installed correctly. Improperly installing a server potentially risks damage to the server, and can endanger the safety of data center employees.

There are multiple ways to install servers into various configurations. One way to do it is with slide rails. Here are the 7 steps for accomplishing that successfully:

How to install a server into a rack:

  • Check that your server is compatible with the rack. Before you begin with the installation, it’s important to make sure that your server will fit into the rack you are using. Trying to install a server into an improperly fitted rack may result in injury.
  • Disassemble bolt-on slide rails. Once this is done, you can adjust the width and depth of the rack to accommodate the dimensions of your server.
  • Attach the slide rail assembly to the rack posts. Insert the screws into the mounting post first, and then attach the assemblies. Tighten the screws and make sure the rails are fitted securely.
  • Extend the Anti-Tip bar. This is a simple step but it’s very important to prevent the rack from tipping over, which could cause serious damage to the server.
  • Install the server into the rack. Lift the server (preferably by using one of our lifting solutions) and make sure that the rear ends of the mounting brackets are aligned with the slide assemblies. Then insert the mounting brackets into the assemblies and slide the server back into the rack.
  • Verify the server is securely mounted into the rack. The slide rail assemblies should be locked in place.
  • Install the cable management arm. This is an optional part, but it’s very useful. It helps you ensure that server cables do not become snagged or pinched, and that there is adequate room to maneuver them. Assemble the cable management arm separately, and then insert it into the back side of the left-side rail.
  • Verify operation of slide rails: Once you have installed the cable management arm, slowly slide the server out of the rack until it reaches the slide rail stops. Verify that the cable management arm extends properly and that the cables are not pinched. Then slide the server slowly back into place.

Warnings and Cautions

It’s very easy to make mistakes in server handling that could potentially cause damage to equipment or even serious injury. When installing a server make sure that you:

  • Always load servers from the bottom up. This prevents your servers from becoming  top-heavy and tipping.
  • Ensure air flow is normal. Servers require a certain amount of airflow to keep from becoming overheated. Improper installation may compromise airflow and result in malfunctions.
  • Consider temperature. If a server is installed in a closed rack with other servers, its temperature may be slightly increased. Always make sure this is taken into account when managing temperature in the data center as a whole.

Data center employees may have to install servers into racks quite frequently, yet issues related to server handling are often overlooked in training. Following the correct procedures and remaining safety conscious keeps the servers in good shape, the workers safe, and everyone happy.

How Server Lift Equipment Helps Data Centers Meet Facility Requirements

Data center managers must meet a wide variety of facility requirements that are dependent on the type of facility that they run, its size and its location. This is in addition to those requirements that are mandated by compliance standards and safety regulations among others. Handling data center equipment for changes, migrations or expansions touches on all of these and other requirements for DCMs. This is where server lift equipment becomes critical to meeting those requirements.

Moving, lifting and installing servers into data center racks via the use of server lift equipment dictates the ability to quickly and efficiently configure software and deal with daily end-user demands. The first general requirement of any data center is the space limitations as regards to maneuverability.

Data centers are built with much tighter spaces than commercial environments and have strict policies against products that use hazardous materials. As a consequence, lifts made for the general market would be inadequate due to size, maneuverability, weight parameters, emissions, and flexibility among other attributes.

When we look closely at those needs for handling and installing rack-mounted equipment in compact data center aisles, we see how server lift equipment must be designed specifically for that function. Maneuvering in tight spaces with heavy loads require extreme stability in operation and at rest. It also requires increased functionality for raising and lowering expensive and heavy pieces of hardware into cages, server racks, and modular data center configurations. In addition, hydraulics or other hazardous materials as well as EMF emissions risk major code violations as well as data corruption.

Server lift equipment must be capable of meeting other physical space requirements such as low ceilings and overhead cable trays among other vertical design parameters. Damage to cable runs when raising servers with a powered server lifting machine can mean major outages that cause downtime for clients or even more serious interruptions of mission critical compute operations. That means server lifts used in data centers should have built-in, dynamic safety measures to protect against these costly accidents.

Harmful interference, emissions or the potential for usage safety challenges in product design can be a death sentence for a busy data center where EMI can cause data corruption among other hazards. Consequently, server lift equipment must be designed to adhere to a list of standards ranging from FCC Class B Standards and LVD to the CE Immunity, Emission and Product Machinery Standards.

All of these varied requirements and many others go to the heart of data center operations regardless of the type of facility and who it serves. DCMs must have the tools that enable them to work within those requirements while ensuring the optimization of data center operations 24/7. In busy data centers, the right server lift equipment can be one of several important defining factors in the efficiency, cost savings, and safety of the modern data center.

For more information about how server lift equipment can help your data center meet its requirements for operational efficiency and safety, contact us online or call +1 602-254-1557 to speak with a ServerLIFT specialist.

Using Server Equipment to Increase OpEX Savings in the Data Center

While virtualization and monitoring technology has become the most effective way to increase data center efficiency and decrease operational costs, DCMs have to use every tool at their disposal to further increase OpEx saving margins. The ability to utilize server equipment to lower data center operational expenses has proven to be another way to provided various solutions that further that goal.

Rack consolidation, high density patch panels and other high density solutions can increase operational efficiency exponentially, but when used in conjunction with server equipment they increase OpEx savings as well. For example, rack consolidation can reduce floor space while high-density patch panels can achieve double the port density in 1U of rack space. These measures allow for density increases and technology changes without a complete tear-out and replacement of existing infrastructure. High-density solutions also require fewer cabinets and power distribution units (PDUs).

Another way that DCMs are utilizing server equipment to increase OpEx savings is by growing vertically instead of horizontally. This can enable the accommodation of increased growth, capacity, and density without taking up floor space. Of course, DCMs must have a clear design plan that enables flexibility while also accounting for accessibility. Server equipment in the form of today’s advanced power server lifts is the key to executing these plans in a way that lowers operational expenses in terms of manpower and maximization of space utilization.

DCMs have to enlist the use of server equipment that provides the scalability required to support rapid changes in demand and technology. That means data center designs that have far reaching mechanical and electrical systems designs that accommodate flexibility through consolidation without disrupting operations.

To learn about the ServerLIFT options that can enable the speed, flexibility and safety that modular data centers require, contact us online or call +1 602-254-1557 to speak with a ServerLIFT specialist.

Improving Data Center Efficiency with Advanced Server Equipment

Data center efficiency is a never-ending pursuit for DCMs where they must balance efficiency, availability, and flexibility to effectively manage the many data centers parts as well as the whole. These parts include a compilation of servers, storage, network systems, mechanical/electrical systems, applications and tools, governance procedures and staff. While DCIM and other monitoring tools are key to managing the physical space of the data center, advance server equipment such as technologically and mechanically advanced server lifts are also foundational to that efficiency.

One of the most common tasks in any data center facility is the physical handling of servers and other rack-mounted equipment. As equipment weight reaches dangerous levels, server manufacturers are making it clear that this hardware requires a minimum of 2 people to install 2U servers, and up to 4 people to handle heavy equipment. Most of these companies recommend using a mechanical lift to handle equipment in their operations manuals.

While blade servers, condense packed servers, and UPS systems increase computing power they also increase physical demands that impact data center efficiency. For data centers without advanced server equipment solutions like server lifts, the lack of standard lifting procedures for equipment handling in a datacenter puts both the server equipment and the data center efficiency in jeopardy.

While advanced server equipment such as modern server lifts can increase data center efficiency, not all solutions are created equally. As a consequence, DCMs must utilize all of the data derived from their DCIM solutions as well as facility history to determine the best server lift solutions to meet their needs. While the right choice can mean greater efficiency, the wrong choice can actually lower efficiency, costs and safety in ways that jeopardize the data center.

To learn how advanced server equipment can improve data center efficiency, contact us online or call +1 602-254-1557 to speak with a ServerLIFT specialist.

With Modular Data Centers on the Rise, DCMs Need Faster Server Equipment Setup to Keep Up… Here’s How.

While data center managers (DCM) certainly see the differing options for modular data centers as providing a means of faster deployment and space maximization at a lower cost, those attributes can come at a price all their own. Since these data center modules are typically removable, consideration needs to be given to installation and removal logistics. These logistics may include access for cranes, trucks, forklifts in many cases while server lifts are often a part of every installation. This is particularly true where necessary free space and enough turning radius to bring a module in or take it out is a prime consideration.

DCMs may have a number of DCIM tools to help them deal with these changes in order to ensure optimal space efficiency with module placement. That means taking into account the logistics of service access corridors between modules, if needed, but also the best layout of infrastructure modules versus those that only carry payload.

Deployment speed is always a concern, but it cannot come at the cost of the resiliency and operational efficiency of the overall data center design. Keeping up with the pace of these types of deployments can require highly flexible server lifts that can meet the space limitations while also providing the stable weight lifting capacity that are needed in the deployment and outfitting of modular data centers.

For many DCMs modular data center designs are part of an expanding data center where multitenant needs are constantly in flux. That means that server lift solutions must be able to accommodate a wide range of options beyond just weight, stability, lifting capacity, and streamlined footprint. Server equipment setup solutions like server lifts must have the ability to provide the tight turning radius and the lateral shelf movement to accommodate all modular and traditional data center configurations.

To learn about the ServerLIFT options that can enable the speed, flexibility and safety that modular data centers require, contact us online or call +1 602-254-1557 to speak with a ServerLIFT specialist.