Does the value of a data center cleaning company come from polishing the data center name plate at the entrance? Or from keeping the reception area free of spent coffee cups and chewing gum? Or does it come from careful cleaning of IT areas to eliminate contamination and conditions that cause unexpected downtime? The biggest added value of a good cleaning company is in helping the data center fulfill its service level agreements and obligations to its customers while contributing to improvements in health and safety for employees.
The perils of impropriety in the data center include:
- Dust and other airborne particulates. These spread, settle, and accumulate. They may lead to dust fires or to overheating of equipment as air intake filters become clogged.
- Organic refuse and rodents. A case of cause and effect, as food left lying around attracts rats (and insects.)
- Metal whiskers. Zinc, in particular, grows thin threads or whiskers. These whiskers can cause short circuits when they grow long enough and make contact with other components or circuitry.
- Humidity, leading to rust. Rusted equipment can be difficult or impossible to repair. The component affected must often be swapped out for a new, rust-free one. On the other hand, spotting and eliminating humidity can help to prevent rust from forming in the first place.
Professional data center cleaning companies will, therefore, pay particular attention to the following aspects of a data center:
- IT equipment. Correct cleaning to prevent servers breaking down, including avoidance of hard disk crashes, mechanical failures, and electrical arcing from one component to another.
- Fire detection and sprinkler systems. Dust can in certain circumstances look like smoke to detectors and end up by triggering a halon dump.
- Raised floors. Not only can the lifting tiles of raised floors dislodge dust and lead to the effects described above, but such flooring is also prone to buildups of static electricity. Regular cleaning can ensure that static is dissipated correctly.
- Ceiling and underfloor plenums. Both are channels for contaminants and particulates that are dangerous to computers and detrimental to uptime. Regular cleaning and decontamination are the answers.
- Post-construction cleaning. Whether you’re opening the doors (figuratively speaking) of your new data center for the first time, or remodeling existing parts, cleaning to remove harmful dust and debris is a must.
Naturally, all of the data center cleaning above should be done in an environmentally friendly way. While the objective is to preserve the health and operational vitality of servers, storage units, and networking equipment, employees must be protected as well – and, of course, the planet too.
With these aspects in mind, it is clear that quality data center cleaning requires specialists in the matter. Even if customers do not necessarily see cleaners diligently working, they will see the difference in uptime between a data center with a proper cleaning program, and one without.
Has dust, food or static electricity caused problems in your data center? Tell us your war stories in the space below for comments.
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