Today's photo caption: Why you NEVER want your network to run like Greased Lightning
Welcome back to Tech Service Today's IT Disaster of the Week series where we showcase the ugliest IT environment our technicians ran into this week. The best way to discuss today’s disaster photo is through the use of a homonym that’s prolific in the hospitality industry: SERVER
There are two different kinds of SERVER that can be considered critical to the success of most family restaurants. The first “server” is a member of a restaurant’s wait staff who serves patrons their meals. The other, equally-important kind of “server” is the point of sale (POS) file “server” on which all purchasing and sales transactions are stored.
While both servers are critical cogs in the gears of every well-run restaurant, their roles are completely different and thus they typically occupy completely separate workspaces. But when both servers are forced to work in the same space, the results can be disastrous, as this week’s photo reveals.
Upon arriving at this small restaurant to install a new piece of equipment, our technician found the network equipment rack in the kitchen, right beside the deep-fryer. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant that uses a deep-fryer, then you know how the grease from those fryers attaches itself to water vapor in the air and just floats around the kitchen until it finds a solid surface to land on. Eventually grease ends up coating the walls, ceilings, countertops, appliances, even the employees. And when an IT professional has made the mistake of installing network equipment in an open rack (versus an enclosed server cabinet) right inside the kitchen, then it too becomes a target on which the grease will land.
While collocating network and kitchen equipment in the same space is never a good practice, you’ll find that grease doesn’t have such a dire, damaging impact on every network component equally. For example, a passive device like a patch which has every port occupied may tolerate a grease coating far longer/better than active network equipment like switches and servers.
Servers are especially vulnerable because their built-in cooling fans draw air in through their front face and exhaust it out the back. When that air contains grease vapor, it ends up stuck to every available surface inside the server, not to mention the entry & exit vent holes on the server chassis. This week’s IT disaster photo is a prime example.
In this blog series, a frequent topic we discuss is the how heavily-populated network racks lacking any cable management can shorten the life of file servers. Specifically, when the congestion of cabling chaos at the front of a rack is so thick that you can’t even see the face of your equipment, it’s also preventing the uninhibited flow of air into the front of the servers causing them to overheat. With that in mind, consider how much worse it is when the vent holes where the air enters your servers get completely filled with grease, preventing any air from entering the server?
We’ve come to think of grease as a universal means for increasing speed. Greased lighting makes a car go faster, grease in deep-fryers makes food cook faster, etc. But grease will never make your network run faster.
So if you are a restaurant IT professional, consider this old saying the next time you are planning a new network install: If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.
You know sensitive network equipment like servers cannot stand the heat (or the grease); so keep them out of the kitchen. Otherwise your next job may be operating the deep fryer that caused this week’s IT disaster.
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