To host email and IP phone systems onsite, you will need the right IT equipment as well as sufficient floor space, power and cooling to run it. It may go without saying, but your data center or IT closet should have enough space to fit the necessary equipment. Since data centers consume 100 to 200 times as much power as standard office spaces, make sure it can handle the extra power load. The cooling system also should be sized to maintain a comfortable operating temperature in the 70 to 75° F range. Otherwise, IT equipment can overheat or fail before its rated lifetime.
The key is to size your system requirements upfront. Then, you will know what equipment is needed and whether additional space, power or cooling should be built out.
How many people will use email or phones? How many mailboxes will the company need? How many messages will people receive per day? What is the average message size? What is the average number of phone minutes used per day and bandwidth per call? What kind of availability is expected? How about security? System vendors can provide additional direction about relevant user requirements. If an existing phone or email system is being used, there may be tools available that can measure and report current usage patterns to help answer these questions.
Second, translate user requirements into specifications for servers, storage and network equipment. Here again, vendors can help by offering configuration guidance and sizing calculators. The output will specify CPU performance, memory, storage capacity and IOPS, network bandwidth and ports. Be sure to add a buffer for future expansion and growth. If high availability is required, you may opt for a failover site with redundant hardware and data replication.
Third, select hardware that meets the specifications and calculate its physical size and power. Depending on your architecture preferences, you may choose scale-out rack servers, scale-up enterprise servers or converged infrastructure. Virtualization can be used to consolidate more applications and server roles onto it. After selecting the hardware, you can determine its size in rack units and power consumption.
With estimated rack units in hand, check if there is enough space in an existing rack. If not, additional racks will be needed. A standard 42U rack consumes 7 or 8 square feet of floor space. As a data center rule of thumb, the total space rises to 28 square feet per rack after accounting for hot/cold aisles and access corridors. Adding in the cooling system and switchgear for electricity transmission brings the total to 42 square feet per rack.
If your IT closet is not wired to handle the extra power load, it may be necessary to install a power distribution unit. Furthermore, each kilowatt of power used by equipment creates a kilowatt of heat which must be cooled. Depending on the cooling system capacity, you might have to enhance it or install dedicated A/C equipment in the room. All of this factors into the space requirement.
If you are unsure whether to host email or phones onsite, do a quick, rough calculation with standard figures and configurations to determine if it’s even feasible. If it looks like your site is unable to support it, consider a colocation provider or cloud service instead.