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Self-managed server rooms (IF-B.Z14 and IF-B.01)

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The 'self-managed server rooms' (B.Z14, and the auxiliary room B.01) in the basement of the Informatics Forum provide 'fairly secure' rooms to house machines which would not be suitable for an office environment. Access is normally granted freely to those who have machines in the rooms, but not to anyone else.

REMINDER: food and/or drink are not permitted in any of the School's server rooms.

Requesting space in the self-managed server rooms

See also the School's policy on the allocation and use of space in the self-managed server rooms.

Space in the in the self-managed server rooms is limited. Before you make plans to site equipment in either of the rooms, you must submit a support request explaining what you propose to do, and how much rack space you'll need. If the request is reasonable, we'll then reserve the space, subject to the School's SMSR space policy.

Please note that there MUST be a current member of staff acting as administrative contact and 'sponsor' for the machine(s). The group managing the machine(s) must ensure that this remains the case as staff leave the School. Machines which appear to be 'unowned' may be turned off and removed from the SMSRs.


Access is by swipe & PIN; please request access by sending in a support request giving your swipe card number ('100100...'). Please send this as a separate request so that the necessary actions can take place in parallel with any other work you might ask for. If you are a student, please be sure to include the name of your supervisor.

Note that, in common with other swipe locks, an alarm will go off if the door is held open for more than 15 seconds; if you think you'll need to open the door for longer, please contact support beforehand.

Once your card is enabled and your machine installed (see below), the expectation is that you should be able to do all necessary management tasks yourself. However, please feel free to send in a support request if you'd like assistance with something.

Installing machines

All machines must be rack-mountable; no 'desktop'-style machines will be accepted. You MUST reserve rack space in the rooms before you order any new machines.

Once you have your new machine, please send in a support request to ask for help with installation, power, network and console provision. The rooms' network switches will need configuring before new network connections will work. If we find that you have installed your machine incorrectly or inappropriately, we may require you to move it.

If you aren't already accredited to the rooms' swipe locks, please also send your card number ('100100...') as a separate request so that we can add it to the list.


To make the best use of the available space, we aim to rack machines fairly densely, unless there is a particular reason not to do so. So, generally:

  1. A group of machines, all of which belong to the same user or research group, will be racked as densely as possible, with no inter-machine gaps.
  2. A gap of 1U will be left between distinct groups of machines. (Of course, in some cases, there might be only one machine in a particular group.)


Power in the self-managed server rooms is distributed by the 'power bars' attached to the back of the racks. These present as IEC C13 and C19 outlets. When you install your machine, the support team will supply IEC C14-C13 power leads on request. These should be suitable for use in almost all cases.

We try to balance the load within and between the power bars where possible. When your machine is installed it will be assigned a power-bar outlet (or outlets, in the case of a machine with dual power supplies) with this in mind. After working on your machine, please reconnect it to the same outlet(s). As machines are added and removed, and loads change, we may need to move things around; we will try to schedule this in advance where possible.

In a few cases, equipment will expect C19 or even 13A power. If yours is one of these, please contact support in advance, so that the technicians have time to source or make up something suitable. Note that in no case should the 13A wall sockets be used to power equipment in the racks or shelves, as this would cause a trip hazard.

All power in the self-managed server rooms is supplied via the same central uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that supplies power to the main Informatics server room. This means that machines in the self-managed server room are naturally protected from any short-term problems (spikes, glitches, black-outs, etc.) which might affect the main University power supply. No special action is required by owners of self-managed machines to take advantage of this.

WARNING: Three phase power is in use in the self-managed server rooms. A machine must only be connected to the power bars fitted to the rack in which the machine itself is housed.

Each individual power bar or 13A socket provides the usual single-phase nominal 240V between live and neutral. However there is a nominal 440V between phases.

Both power bars on any rack use the same phase; however, power bars on different racks might use different phases. The 13A wall sockets use a different phase to the power bars.

Power bars and 13A sockets are all labelled with their circuit numbers, which includes the phase they are on (either L1, L2 or L3.)

A machine must only be connected to the power bars fitted to the rack in which the machine itself is housed.

Safety tests

Pre-installation safety tests are not normally needed for 'standard' machines bought by the University through the usual suppliers. However, non-standard machines and older machines do have to be tested periodically. Our own technicians will advise as to when this needs to be done, and will do any necessary testing.

Machines which fail a safety test must not be used. Machines which have not had a recent safety test may be powered off until one can be arranged.


There are four network switches in B.Z14, and one in B.01, each providing 44 1000baseT ('Gigabit ethernet') ports. Each switch has an uplink (currently 10Gbps for each switch in B.Z14; 1Gbps for the single switch in B.01) to the building's core switches. Ports on each of these switches can be configured onto any of the public or private VLANs available within the building.

A port in one of the switches will be allocated to your machine on installation. Switch ports are not interchangeable: you must not re-patch your machine to any switch port other than the one to which it has been allocated.

When you install your machine, the support team can supply network cables of suitable length from stock. If you need a large number of them, please let the support team know in advance.

If you have several machines in either of the rooms, there might be some efficiency to be gained - both for you and for the other users of the rooms - if they are all connected to the same switch. Please contact support if you think this may be a useful thing to do.

Remote administration / 'lights out management'

Any modern machine bound for either of our self-managed server rooms will likely be equipped with a 'Baseboard Management Controller' (BMC) (or equivalent - 'Lights Out Management' processor (LOM), or 'Dell Remote Access Controller' (DRAC), etc.) which is intended to allow remote system administration of the machine, the implementation of a remote console via IPMI, and so on.

We have allocated a dedicated subnet and VLAN for all such devices. Should you want to make use of any such facility, please contact support.

Note: if your machine is equipped with such a device, then, irrespective of whether or not you intend to use it, it should be configured in some sensible way, rather than being left set to its factory default configuration. Specifically, if you do not intend to use the device, then please:

  1. Ensure that its networking capability is either completely disabled (preferable); or, otherwise, configured so that it does not issue DHCP requests.
  2. Set the passwords of all privileged accounts configured on the device to something other than the default.

Uninstalling / removing machines

Capacity in the self-managed server rooms is limited, and we monitor the overall usage. If you're removing machines for which you're responsible from the rooms - even if only temporarily - please inform support so that we can track what's going on, and plan accordingly.

If a machine is removed without notification, we may reuse the space previously allocated to it.


There are occasions when we might have to turn off machines at short notice. We'll try to contact you first (which would be easier if you attach labels with contact details to your machines) but we can't guarantee that timescales will permit. We therefore suggest that you configure your machines to shut down when their front-panel power buttons are pressed.

Mailing list

There is a mailing list for people who have machines in the self-managed server rooms, and we suggest that you subscribe to this list. The list is expected to be low-volume, and will carry occasional announcements and followup-discussion.

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