11 Apr 2007

11 Apr 2007

Keeping It Clean in the Data Center

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Category: data center cleaning, data center maintenance, site cleaning

Spring is here. It’s the time of year when people throw open the windows, pull out the dust rags and fire up their vacuums for a burst of Spring Cleaning. This annual household ritual serves as a good reminder of the importance of regular cleanings within the data center environment.

Regularly scheduled site cleanings help to keep the data center environment free of dust, dirt and other particulates that can harm your operating systems and create health risks for employees. Particulates circulating within a data center can accumulate and interfere with electronics causing a variety of potential problems, including media errors and data loss.

A good rule of thumb is to schedule data center cleanings on a quarterly basis, or when particulate counts exceed the standards set by ISO 14644-8 or ISO 14644-9. By sticking to this cleaning routine, companies optimize the performance of data center equipment while cutting down on the cost of repairs. When you compare the cost of regular cleaning sessions to the overall financial investment in your data center, it’s a smart buy.

Choosing a Data Center Cleaning Service

Don’t grab a broom and dustpan just yet. While it’s good to clean both houses and data centers on a regular basis, that’s where most of the similarities end. Cleaning a data center is a delicate process that requires the services of highly-trained professionals who know how to safely handle mission critical equipment.

To help you select the right cleaning service, here are some tips:

  • Check the company’s references. In addition to the quality of the service, you want to make sure the company has experience dealing with facilities that are similar to your own.
  • Makes sure the company is insured for damages caused during the cleaning process. If an accident occurs, are you protected?
  • Evaluate the experience and training of the cleaning crew. For instance, are they trained to provide services per the requirements of International Standard ISO 14644?
  • Review the company’s cleaning methods to see if they use HEPA filtration vacuums and chemicals that are safe for use with electronics systems.
  • Be clear about your expectations for the service and establish parameters for cleaning. Will the technicians move equipment? Will they clean the sub-floor or above each rack? Are certain areas off-limits? What’s included in the service?
  • Look for a cleaning service that offers availability that meets your needs. In addition to yearly cleanings, will they be available for daily maintenance activities or in the event of an emergency?

Comments (4)

  1. chuck goolsbee on 11th Apr 2007

    Why risk the datacenter cleaning to an outside entity at all? Why wait for spring time, or even quarterly to do your cleaning?

    We put datacenter cleanliness in the job description of BOTH technical and facilities staff. That way the techs MUST clean up after themselves when doing server installs, and not just leave things for the Facilities staff to deal with. The Facilities staff is there to make sure the datacenter stays clean all year round.

    Cleanliness is a PROCESS not an end result. That process runs just like the rest of the facility, 24/7.

    –chuck

  2. Anonymous on 17th May 2010

    Chuck, you meant staffs walking in and out of DC will not bring in dust/dirt? What is your process of dealing with such? Unless your DC has a clean room process for entries, e.g. wearing space suit.

    Cheers – KT

  3. Scott Mann on 23rd Jun 2010

    Chuck, those are certainly good practices, however it is nearly impossible for an in-house staff to keep a data center cleaned efficiently (cost and service) according to proper protocol. Do you expect those technicians and facilities (usually higher paid than a staff to be hip-deep in a subfloor for an entire day giving it an ulpa-filtrated deep cleaning at least once per month or quarter? What about insurance liability if they trip a switch or bring a server down?

    Specialized data center cleaning companies have full insurance/liability protection for their clients, train their cleaning technicians year round on the latest standards and cleaning techniques, and always use the right chemicals and latest approved critical environment protocols.

    Just as an example, one company tried to clean their subfloor in-house and their technicians and janitors used a chemical with chlorine to wipe down their pedestal system. 12 months later their entire subfloor was rusting out and conductive ferrous metals were blowing over all their server electronics.

    You are right, cleaning is a process, not a one-time thing. But the right process is almost always a combination of good daily data center practices (using tacky mats, no food/drink, no janitorial, no cardboard/paper/printing, proper temp/humidity, facilities/vendors cleaning up after themselves thoroughly, etc) and a data center cleaning company with a reputation of excellence doing subfloor, above floor, equipment, wall, and ceiling cleans on a regular schedule.

  4. Anonymous on 2nd Dec 2012

    Anyone knows where can I get insurance for data centre cleaning. try many companies but no luck. They said the liability is too great cause of the risk. If I do get my insurance up I can offer my services in Victoria if any of you interested. Cheers

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