Data Center Decontamination: Make It a Part Of Your Risk Management Strategy


The service of data center cleaning has been a major focus of late for data centers, service companies and end users. This renewed focus on cleaning services is prompted by ASHRAE and manufacturers such as IBM, Dell and HP. None of these well-respected entities would recommend that the service be performed in-house. DCM is a risk management service , critical to the continuation of critical operations.

Our service called, Data Center Maintenance (DCM) and Premier Solutions Co. was formed in 1997. To date, we have cleaned over 11,000 data centers, encompassing 43 (M) million square feet (SF) of data center flooring, over one hundred thousand server cabinets and over one million servers and systems.

Our service began with little direction from the industry. Very few firms were specializing in offering data center cleaning. We used our knowledge from years of selling IT infrastructure solutions such as UPS, enclosures, power and cooling products, and disaster recovery services, to erect a service geared towards protection of the environment and the equipment housed within.

With industry guidelines set forth, risk management and data center tier status via Uptime institute, a clear direction can be implemented in keeping the data center free of risk via contaminates by incorporating a "tier 3" approach and improve indoor air quality (IAQ).

“Risk” is a function of the likelihood of a given threat-source’s exercising a particular potential vulnerability, and the resulting impact of that adverse event on the organization"

Risk management is the process that allows IT to balance the operational and economic costs of protective measures and achieve gains in mission capability, availability by protecting the IT systems anddata that support their organizations’ missions-NIST

Risk Management Processes:

  1. Assessment: Includes identification and evaluation of risks and risk impacts, and recommendation of risk-reducing measures (Premier Solutions Co. rates the center on a PM scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest risk)

  2. Mitigation: Which refers to prioritizing, implementing, and maintaining the appropriate risk-reducing measures recommended from the risk assessment process.

  3. Implementation: Proven action of a successful risk management program, controlled methods.

  4. Confirmation: “Check & balance” in place for confirmation of tier3 program is adhered to.

As IT equipment shrinks in size, resulting in smaller components and less physical space between them, the risk of contamination grows. Increased heat loads per unit volume of air necessitates the need for more airflow, thus, increasing the exposure of electronics to detrimental effects of accumulated dust.

Frequency of Service Recommendations:

  • HP recommends weekly dry mop and monthly damp mop

  • SUN recommends quarterly floor surface and hardware decontamination

    In today’s high-density, virtualized centers, it is extremelyimportant to keep the facility within “clean specifications” at alltimes. To achieve this, it may be required to have a top floor service done monthly, especially for sites located near freeways, centers using outside air for cooling, continuous, personnel traffic that bring contaminates into the room.

Common Service Fallacies/Deficiencies in Service:

  • Use of “proprietary” cleaning solutions

  • ISO compliant

  •  Using water to clean sub-floor (water and 480V don’t mix) Bringing water source onto computer room floor

  •  Floor tiles stripped and waxed

  • Improper sub-floor process

Caring For The Data Center

  • Utilize clean step-mats at doorways

  • Clean/replace CRAC unit filters regularly

  • Consider air filter media to capture gases

  • Conduct a semi annual IAQ corrosive analysis

  • Use particle testing as a gauge of environment condition

  • Close off server cabinet cut outs

  • Have delaminated or trip tiles replaced

  • Place perforated tiles in cold aisle/front of cabinet

  • Inspect water cooling units regularly

  • Disallow cardboard and pallets in center

  • Removal and repair of sub floor corrosives

  • Insert blanking panels in unused U SPACE of cabinets

  • Clean cabinets and hardware twice annually. Dust can create an

“Insulating layer” that will lead to heat related failures

  • Clean sub floor twice annually minimum

  • Seal off bottom of server cabinets. allows cool air to bypass server,

and traps dust under cabinets


A regularly scheduled service with Tier 3 parameters in place and the identification of particulates will allow your data center to stay in optional health.

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Due to the nature of this material, numerous hardware and software products have been mentioned by name. In the majority, if not all, of the cases, these product names are claimed as trademarks by the companies that manufacturethe products. It is not Premier Solutions Co.’s intent to claim these names or trademarks as our own. Likewise, company logos, graphics or screen shots have been reproduced with the consent of the owner and are subject to thatowner’s copyright.

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