To ensure that the basis of IT – the servers – always work smoothly, their components must be constantly monitored and maintained. The focus is on five technical core aspects to ensure the efficiency and reliability of the systems at all times.
To keep their IT environment functional, many companies outsource their server management to service providers to counteract the ongoing shortage of skilled workers. The servers are the heart of IT. The following applies: whether via cloud services, on your infrastructure or in a hybrid environment – server management must be based on best practices to make hardware management as efficient as possible.
Server management includes all the necessary monitoring and maintenance work to ensure the reliable operation of the servers with optimal performance. This includes the administration of hardware and software as well as IT security measures and backups. The goal of server management is to maximize system reliability and minimize delays and downtime, but also to physically and virtually secure server environments. The hardware forms the basis of server management because it must remain functional and resilient to support business operations. The focus must be on five components or aspects: hard drive, main memory, central processor, CPU temperature and emergency power supply.
Hard Drives And Operating Environment
Hard drives serve as permanent storage for the server. In many cases, however, they are also used for caching, leading to performance problems when the storage media is full. And since necessary data is stored at this level, IT managers should monitor their disk usage at all times so that the required storage capacity is always available when needed.
Businesses generally need to keep an eye on the condition of hard drives to avoid costly failures and associated data loss. In addition, the operating environment plays a crucial role. Servers must be housed in a place with optimal environmental conditions: A server room should be set up with strictly controlled humidity, among other things. On the other hand, if the relative humidity falls into critical ranges or rises above 50 per cent, the necessary equipment should be available to restore the ideal conditions. The same applies to cool: Although modern hardware is less susceptible to faults and temperatures, servers still work most reliably at ambient temperatures between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius. And for security reasons, the servers should, of course, only be accessible to authorized persons. Access monitoring can help to identify unauthorized activities at the latest later and to get to the bottom of the incident.
Memory And Processor
Random Access Memory — known as RAM (Random Access Memory) — is a server’s temporary working memory responsible for fast operations and caching. It is directly related to the performance of a system, especially in demanding applications. However, if the main memory is no longer sufficient for regular use, this can impair performance or even result in the programs no longer running. To prevent such disruptions, companies must rely on the sufficient capacity and, above all, increase capacity in good time when the load increases to continue ensuring smooth IT operations.
The processor – or central processing unit (CPU) – is a server’s brain, doing all the calculations and running programs. Processors are not only indispensable but also heavily used and must therefore be constantly monitored. In the best-case scenario, permanent monitoring avoids overloading with severe consequences, leading to slower processes or even complete system crashes. If the CPU is overloaded, there are several possible solutions: The most obvious option is an upgrade. Alternatively, IT managers can add additional CPU resources from another asset. In addition, corresponding processes that take up a lot of resources can be stopped, or the system-wide performance can be fine-tuned to relieve the CPUs.
In addition, CPUs heat up quickly during intensive computing processes. It is, therefore, no coincidence that many server farms are located in cold places and often underground or underwater. In the worst case, however, if CPUs run too hot, this could mean a complete failure. For this reason, servers are equipped with cooling systems and thermometers as standard, thus enabling easier remote temperature management. If a server’s temperature approaches the dangerous range, IT technicians can shut down the hardware and assess the situation before it becomes critical.
Overheating problems are often caused by excessive system loading or faulty cooling devices. Often, even more performance is to be extracted from the processors. Overclocking can go hand in hand with an increase in performance. Nevertheless, the system must run stably, and the team must pay particular attention to possible overheating. The recommendation for companies is, therefore, to stick to the recommended processor speed and spread the load.
Emergency Power Supply
Also, various internal or external factors can interrupt the power supply. Every server room should have an emergency power supply to avoid significant data losses. In the event of a power failure, voltage fluctuations or if a fuse blows – even if it only lasts a few minutes – users, customers, or colleagues expect this will not affect operations. Various options are available to ensure this, from uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) with built-in surge protection to backup power supplies that can keep the server running for a short time during a power outage.
Servers are the foundation of a reliable, functioning IT environment. IT professionals should, therefore, not underestimate server management and, above all, keep an eye on the hardware. It’s better to be safe than sorry because a minor server problem can quickly turn into business-damaging downtime. At the hardware level, a few essential adjustments form the basis for solid server management.
Once this foundation has been laid, those responsible can deal with the other aspects if necessary. In practice, however, for companies that do not have their own IT team or only have limited IT resources, outsourcing server management to external specialists may be a better solution.