The Raritan Blog

Virtualization and its Challenges for Server Rooms

Reegan Barnett
March 6, 2018

Enterprises have been using server virtualization to consolidate their IT footprint for years, but smaller organizations often experience difficulty in adopting this architecture for their IT infrastructure. Guidance on this process is especially important for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which have limited resources for designing, implementing and managing their infrastructure.

The challenges that SMBs face in virtualizing their data center include the following:

  • Server protection
  • Shutdowns
  • Non-dedicated IT spaces
  • Floor space
  • Rack expansion

SMBs will be able to increase their energy efficiency and optimize their business operations by properly addressing these issues. These strategies also increase profits by reducing downtime and enhancing customer experience.

Server Protection

Virtualization reduces the physical equipment in a data center, but it also makes that equipment even more critical for maintaining operations. Server protection generally consists of maintaining ideal environmental conditions and ensuring the equipment has reliable power sources.

Rack enclosures that are specifically designed for networking environments are one of the easiest ways to protect servers. These enclosures have features for managing cables and distributing power, which mitigates the risk of human error during maintenance and helps to control streams of hot and cold air. SMBs also need to protect their equipment from power outages with uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and power distribution units (PDUs). Some PDUs are also able to actively monitor the power usage of equipment and restrict the use of outlets to avoid overloading circuits.


UPSs can only supply servers with power for a limited period of time. The ability to shutdown servers gracefully and quickly is, therefore, an essential requirement for a virtualized data center.

The ideal solution to this issue is to use generators or extended-life batteries to supplement the UPSs, which would be necessary during a prolonged power outage. However, this solution is often impractical due to the expense of buying and maintaining such equipment. Intelligent PDU systems often include software with settings that can be pre-configured with shutdown parameters. These solutions should also be able to manage servers remotely and generate proactive notifications regarding power issues.

Non-dedicated IT Spaces

Enterprises typically install their servers in spaces dedicated for that purpose. However, SMBs have limited floor space in their data centers, requiring them to use non-dedicated space for IT equipment.

In these cases, organizations should house their servers in enclosures specifically designed for non-dedicated space. These enclosures can provide servers with the necessary cooling, power and physical protection in spaces that are less than ideal for this purpose. The features of these enclosures include additional fans with soundproofing and more effective cable management.

Floor Space

A lack of floor space in a data center increases the difficulty in securing equipment. The best solution for this problem is wall-mounted enclosures that can pivot away from the wall, providing easy access to the equipment during installation and maintenance. These enclosures also have reversible mounting rails that allow them to accommodate a range of equipment sizes. The ideal height for a wall-mounted server rack is typically 13 rack units (U), or about 23 inches.

Rack Expansion

Rack size is a particularly a particularly critical consideration for data centers with limited floor space. A small rack is limited to the equipment it can accommodate, while a large rack is cumbersome to move and difficult to install in a tight corner or small closet.

A slim, two-post rack is an inexpensive solution to this problem that makes efficient use of limited space. Vertical cable managers also help to simplify cable routing when adding servers to the rack. Furthermore, remote monitoring software can optimize installations without the need to enter a cramped IT space. This software also provides a centralized view of current equipment, which is useful for capacity planning.

In conclusion, there are many factors that you need to consider while implementing the virtualization of your server rooms. Taking the steps above can help smaller organizations with the process of switching over, and consolidating their IT footprint. While it may seem like a vast amount that you need to consider before taking the leap, it truly is doable.