As someone with a strong operational ethic, one of my pet peeves is the colo site that resembles a monthly self-storage facility.¬† I’m referring here, to allowing (or tolerating) tenants storing boxes, material, and debris in their cages.
A colocation facility that has cardboard and other such material in customer cages shows very poorly.¬† That is, new customers touring the site as a potential future data center will not be impressed by the apparent state of operational controls when trash is visible in cages.
More importantly though, storage of cardboard and packaging material on the IT floor is a security risk.¬† This material is likely the most flammable of any present in the environment, and fire is an availability and safety exposure.
We are strong advocates of the “no cardboard on the IT floor” policy in the operational guidelines.¬† Many facilities, especially those in carrier hotels, don’t have the necessary space for a customer staging area that is necessary to practically implement such a policy.¬† Some such facilities implement a time limit after which all cardboard and packaging material have to be removed from the floor or it will be discarded at the operator’s discretion.¬† The latter approach is especially difficult to manage though, because of the simple fact that things leave the floor with much more difficulty than entering the floor.
There are more dimensions to this issue than those of the operator and tenant.¬† The suppliers of IT equipment themselves have an opportunity to impact this issue as well as their own bottom line.¬† An article by Claudia Girrbach reprinted by Data Center Pulse outlines this vendor dimension of the issue in good detail.¬† Among these recommendations are elimination of unneeded items in the shipment (or awareness of unnecessary redundancy of items in a shipment), right-sizing of packaging, use of sustainable material sources in packaging,¬† and design of packaging so that it’s more easily broken down once received.
Facilities that manage this issue well have a “no cardboard on the floor” policy, supported by adequate receiving and staging space, comprehensive recycling programs for waste packaging material, and an enforced policy for how tools, parts, and other material that must be kept in the customer cage are to be stored (e.g., approved closeable plastic bins.¬† Sites like these show much better and deliver a much more favorable security risk profile.