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It’s time to pest-proof your data center

One of the biggest threats to a data center is surprisingly bite-sized. If you haven’t guessed it yet, rats, mice, and other rodents and pests can damage cables and wires in your data center, bringing your state-of-the-art infrastructure to a grinding – or gnawing – halt.

In their quest for a nest, food, or water, pests can end up causing power outages and shorts, resulting in significant downtime. In 2020, rats chewed through a cable connecting two data centers in Tallin, the capital of Estonia, disrupting several online services.

Rodents can destroy indoor and outdoor fiber optic cables. As these cables have relatively small diameters, they are more vulnerable to rodent attacks, resulting in time and cost-consuming damages.

Here’s what can be done to protect your data center cables from animal attacks.

1. Metal or PVC sheathing for your cables

These help to protect against moisture as well as rodent attacks. Outside cabling is usually sheathed in metal to avoid damage. PVC especially is protective, heat resistant, and flexible. It is also flame retardant, apart from making it difficult for a rodent to chew through. Some cabling manufacturers suggest cabling be protected in covering that is at least 1 inch wide to prevent animals from chewing through it.

2. Minimize / No food in data centers

Just as one focuses on minimizing dust levels inside a data center to keep the heat from building up, one has to keep tabs on the food brought in and out. Data centers may be physically secured against physical threats, but rodents need just a tiny hole to sneak in. The rule of thumb is that if you can get a pencil through, then a rat can too. Ensure all the food is cleared away and the area is always clear of crumbs.

3. Keep outside cabling away from spots where animals can climb in

This is especially true in the cases of squirrels, which are known to cause electrical short circuits in data centers. A squirrel was apparently the reason behind one of the outages at Yahoo’s data center in Santa Clara, taking out half the center. Fully seal around doors, vents, and cable penetrations.

4. Periodic inspections for pests are necessary

And consult a pest control service that understands how to work with the equipment of a data center. Aerosol sprays for instance are not advisable for use in data centers as the corrosive chemicals can enter operating equipment and cause damage. Gel baits may work better.

5. Pay attention to the outside of the building as well

Very often, the source of pests entering a facility is from its surroundings – but while  select a pest control method that is safe as the chemicals could enter the building such as air intake vents. This is harmful to the staff inside.

6. Accessories too can make all the difference

There are data center accessories that come with protection against rodent attacks. Hardy Racks Fibre Raceways for instance don’t just help with cabling management but are also equipped to protect against rodent attacks.

If you want more information on protecting your data center against threats of various kinds, do get in touch with us at Hardy Racks.

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