Got Closets?

MDF and IDF closets are integral parts of a distributed IT system. They are specified and designed to be branch circuits of the IT distributed network throughout a building or campus facility. Closets are points of connectivity, and too often these small spaces are overlooked as “valuable”. It can be disastrous when there is disruption in these links and effects can be realized throughout the organization. Let’s take a look at how we can ensure up time of business systems , and mitigate risks.

Closet examples –

MDF – main distribution frame, a cable rack that interconnects and manages the IT and/or telecommunications wiring between itself and any number of IDFs.

IDF- intermediate distribution frame, a cable rack that interconnects and manages the IT and/or telecommunications wiring between an MDF and workstation devices.

Cables entering a building run through a centralized MDF, then each individual IDF and then on to specific workstations. For example, an enterprise that encompasses a building with several floors may have one MDF on the first floor and one IDF on each of the floors that is connected to the MDF.

Unlike an IDF, which connects internal lines to the MDF, the MDF closet connects private or public lines coming into a building with the internal network.  For example, an enterprise that encompasses a building with several floors may have one centralized MDF on the first floor and one IDF on each of the floors that is connected to the MDF. Below is a good example. 

A network – telco closet – is the room dedicated to storing the MDF as well the * Demarc extension and any other network related tech. A network closet is usually fitted with conduit pipes coming from the ceiling, floor, or walls. Another option to run wires in and out is ceiling tiles.   And most times- it is the oldest, worst nook and cranny existence that is chosen, for the IT and Network equipment; that runs your business process.

 *A demarc (an abbreviation for demarcation point) marks the point where communications facilities owned by one organization interface with that of another organization. In telephone terminology, this is the interface between customer-premises equipment and network service provider equipment.

The closets – the small infrastructure connections of the IT distributed network are key links, providing connectivity through the various processes of an organization. The value is the connectivity throughout your organization.

 So with some practicality, let’s consider the following:   

~ It is “recommended to refrain “ from storing cleaning, utility items, and mops, in these closet areas. (!?) Mops and servers co-mingling seems like a lack of common sense; yet in so many large manufacturing plants and home town campuses; this is exactly the scenario that ends up happening. Resulting damages and disruptions to IT and network are costly.   The price of a mop, not so much.

The cost of monitoring to ensure this does not happen with your closets? Priceless- and yet- with Kentix;  #ITsecurity is very cost effective.

Kentix is the solution for closets. #Kentix system blocks can easily secure these closets for IT personnel, and provides a 7×24 monitoring and alert system, letting you know when any breech happens.

~It is “recommended to provide” cooling to these areas, and ASHRAE has published standards for cooling wire rooms and other critical areas. And yes the closet is a key part of the infrastructure, whether a retail store’s closets, such as Macy’s, or a medical facility and hospital campus.  To properly specify the appropriate cooling solution for a wiring closet, the temperature at which that closet should operate must first be specified in regards to the equipment that is running in the closet. Makes sense.    IT equipment vendors usually provide a maximum temperature under which their devices are designed to operate.  What that means is – outside of these ranges, IT reliability is NOT guaranteed.     For active IT equipment typically found in a wiring closet, this temperature is usually 104°F (40°C).  This is the maximum temperature at which the vendor is able to guarantee performance and reliability. It is important to understand that although the maximum published operating temperature is acceptable per the manufacturer, operating at that temperature will not generally provide the same level of availability or longevity as operating at lower temperatures.

Often the closet is overlooked, and in many cases old wired technology is still being used and does not operate or is effective any longer. See note

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) TC 9.9 publishes both recommended and allowable operating temperatures for IT equipment. The intent is to provide better guidance to ensure reliability and performance of equipment. These values are provided in Table 1. Table 1 – Operating temperature limits per ASHRAE TC9.9 Operating Temperature; Temperature Range Recommended 68-77°F (20-25°C) Allowable 59-90°F (15-32°C)

~ It is necessary to monitor the temperature in these closets and branch areas, further to know the humidity in various seasonal climates.  Requirements vary as they are based on geographic area, and all potential environmental factors should be considered.  If your equipment may be subject to dew point- or extreme heat , you must maintain that your equipment is being kept cool , and without moisture developing on surface areas.

The Kentix system will maintain all the information, as it data logs, and time stamps all activities associated with these environments, all in a one box system, and always saving opex.

~It is recommended not to have water or plumbing pipes in these areas, pipes are subject to bursting or leakage , sweating, which is not conducive to any type of cabling infrastructure or IT area. Yet so many small IT closets are stuffed under plumbing, and ceiling pipes, areas where a small leak can cause downtime in minutes.

Plug and play Kentix Leakage Sensors and Leakage Rope, however short or long; these Kentix accessories offer ‘smart response” know immediately where leakage is located, know immediately in the least expected area – in that small closet –know that the “rain” is even happening!

~Recommendations for Smoke detection/fire detection – Fire Ratings on IDF Rooms and closets are not clear at times. What are the requirements for these small rooms? Do we need to comply with NFPA fire codes? Do they get “fire ratings?”   Does an electrical room or closet, need to be 1 hr fire rated regardless of whether or not it has a transformer, Does an IDF room need to be considered?  In Telecom terms -yes, and NFPA 76 is the standard covering requirements for fire safety in these small areas.


1.1* Scope. This standard provides requirements for fire protection of telecommunications facilities where telecommunications services such as telephone (landline, wireless) transmission, data transmission, internet transmission, voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) transmission, and video transmission are rendered to the public. A.1.1 It is not intended that this standard apply to private telecommunications facilities.

However  in the multi-tenant building, large facility, and university campus, those requirements  although best practices for all;  do not necessarily address it.  In the past, the additional costs of all of these systems seemed unnecessary.  And in the case of the University- there is a requirement for CO2 , should any of these closets occupy same building as residence or classroom areas ; and what about retail areas?  Carbon Monoxide is a matter of public safety. The Kentix system provides early smoke detection, the largest sensor is extremely sensitive and “sniffs” the air continually for smoke , carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and  in the event of Fire-  alerts you immediately , in the closet and everywhere else you may be. #Realtime alerting to you, the authorities and building personnel, all at the same time.

Now for the consideration of risk mitigation – Can you imagine that more that  65 % of these areas are not secured?    Not being monitored at all ?

 It can be deemed far too costly to secure closets in building areas when the perimeter security is in place.  “That should be adequate” is the unfortunate predecessors to  “how did that happen” or “who did that”.     Human error, security breech, pipe burst, equipment malfunction = closet compromised. 

  Closet compromised? –  IT , network system and organization affected.                                            

Our best practice and recommendation is the Kentix system a superior toolkit, for 360 degree of holistic monitoring. #7×24, continuous monitoring and logging with the benefit of an all in one box solution. One cost effective system to cover every condition listed above, and more.  Designed to perfectly handle this application, to be deployed in all small areas , right at the edge –  to ensure security, continuity, risk mitigation for all the closets and nook and cranny spaces everywhere.  One box for the closet.  Kentix