Is anyone aware of any standards or guidelines for server rooms or data centers (of any scale)? I am in the process of making suggestions for a design and although some things come out of experience it would be good to be following some standard practices.

  • 3
    You won't like this but get a professional to do this work, it's not something you can just 'wing', the power and cooling design alone will need at least one person's full attention for a long while.
    – Chopper3
    May 19, 2011 at 10:00
  • 1
    There are several aspects to your question which influence each other - there is the technical implementation in terms of infrastructure, digital security, physical security, management, service levels and so on and so forth. If you could be more specific on what it is you really want, you might get better directed answers.
    – the-wabbit
    May 19, 2011 at 10:45
  • Unless you edit this with much more specific questions, it is likely to be closed as overly broad and unanswerable with a "right" answer. As @Chopper3 said, this isn't really something that can be all brought together. Each field has it's own special issues.
    – Caleb
    May 19, 2011 at 11:07

5 Answers 5


It's likely too late to help the original person, but Sun put out a book in 2002 titled "Enterprise Data Center Design and Methodology.

It covers things that I've seen done wrong in the various places I've worked:

  • Not considering the weight of things going on the raised floor
  • Proper direction of the aisles for air flow back to the air handlers
  • Consideration of how much clearance you'll need around racks / panels / etc.
  • Chances of flooding.
  • Under floor moisture sensors
  • Planning your ramp if you have a raised floor.
  • Sufficient space for storage / staging / etc.

There's a section on codes, with the basic takeaway being that even for national / international codes, many are open to interpretation. You'll want to see the book for the full bibliography, but the groups mentioned in the appendix of "definitive standards for specific subjects that relate to data center design and construction" are:

  • ASHRAE, American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc.
  • ASTM, American Society for Testing and Materials
  • EOS/ESD, Electrostatic Discharge Association, Inc.
  • IEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
  • ISA, Instrumentations, Systems and Automation Society
  • IEC, International Electrotechnical Commission
  • IEST, Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology
  • NFPA, National Fire Prevention Association
  • US Department of Commerce, National Bureau of Standards
  • WES, Worldwide Environmental Services
  • BOCA, Building Officials and Code Administrators, Inc.
  • ICC, International Code Council
  • ICBO, International Conference of Building Officials
  • NCSBC, International Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards

Although ... I wonder about the fact that the list says 'National Bureau of Standards' as they were renamed to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) in 1988, which was more than a decade before this was published.


The closest thing I've seen to a de jure standard would be BICSI's "ANSI/BICSI 002-2011, Data Center Design and Implementation Best Practices," but I'd wager this is a bit too lofty for your needs.

As for de facto standards, well, any of the big tier 1 hardware vendors (Sun, Dell, Cisco, HP, etc.) all have their own "best practices" that usually relate to their product portfolios which may or may not be a bad thing depending on how you look at it. If you search for "<vendor> data center design guide" you'll find lots of information.

Sorry for the "go and Google it" answer, but unless you provide more specifics (i.e. are you talking just physical construction design, i.e. cooling, building materials, power, dimensions, etc. or a bit further up the stack like networking, security, etc.?), we can't really help you any further.


True standards and guidelines are generally dictated by your local/state building and fire code.

For great ideas about the various philosophies regarding general layout and design of datacenters, call up a vendor like APC or some large-ish companies/universities nearby and see if you can squeeze in for a tour. People tend to be really proud of their datacenters and love to show them off, so you should have no problem with this.

Now, here comes the easy part: pay someone else to do it. Seriously. If you're not already intimately familiar with how to set up a datacenter, don't do it yourself. One simple mistake can bring the whole project to its knees.


There is the "IT-Grundschutz-Kompendium" from the German Cyber Security Agency also covering infrastructure measures. Unfortunately in German, but Google Translate can help (p.747): https://www.bsi.bund.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/BSI/Grundschutz/Kompendium/IT_Grundschutz_Kompendium_Edition2021.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=6

Even more detailed was the 2016 version of the "IT-Grundschutz-Kataloge" (p.1339): https://www.bsi.bund.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/BSI/Downloadserver/IT-Grundschutz-Kataloge/IT-Grundschutz-Kataloge-15-EL.html


Like others said, if you are only designing a server room for your company that will house 2 racks that aren't even full you could get away with spec'ing up the power requirements yourself (allowing a bit more for further growth expansion down the road), and then ordering as much off-the-shelf (persay) UPS devices as you need.

You will then need to consider cooling. Most small business server rooms I have visited just use conventional AC to cool their rooms.

I think one rule to always follow is always accommodate for further expansion. Its very rare that you will implement a server room/DC design and not need a few more servers/storage arrays down the road. I have seen companies make this mistake too many times and just not have the space they need and have to start from square 1 again.

Just to add to my original answer: One thing I cannot stress enough is make sure you plan your cable routing. Too many people that are DIY'ing a server room miss this out and end up with a spaghetti mess of cables. Plan everything from how you are going to get the cables out of the rack into the switch, even down to the power cables supplying the PDUs.

Good planning is the key to a successful design

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