Maintaining the Wide Area Application Engine
Proper use of preventive maintenance procedures can keep the Wide Area Application Engine (WAE) in good operating condition and minimize the need for costly, time-consuming service procedures. This chapter contains maintenance procedures that you should perform regularly.
This chapter covers the tasks required for maintaining a WAE or a WAE farm:
•Maintaining Your Site Environment
•Using Power Protection Devices
Maintaining Your Site Environment
An exhaust fan in the power supply cools the power supply and system by drawing air in through various openings in the system and blowing it out the back. However, the fan also draws dust and other particles into the system, causing contaminant buildup, which results in an increase in the system's internal temperature and interferes with the operation of various system components.
To avoid these conditions, we recommend keeping your work environment clean to reduce the amount of dust and dirt around the system, thereby reducing the amount of contaminants drawn into the system by the power supply fan.
This section discusses various environmental factors that can adversely affect system performance and longevity.
•Dust and Particles
•Electromagnetic and Radio Frequency Interference
•Shock and Vibration
•Power Source Interruptions
Temperature extremes can cause a variety of problems, including premature aging and failure of chips or mechanical failure of devices. Extreme temperature fluctuations can cause chips to become loose in their sockets and can cause expansion and contraction of disk drive platters, resulting in read or write data errors.
To minimize the negative effects of the temperature on system performance, follow these guidelines:
•Ensure that the system is operated in an environment no colder than 50×F (10×C) or hotter than 95×F (35×C).
•Ensure that the system has adequate ventilation. Do not place it within a closed-in wall unit or on top of cloth, which can act as insulation. Do not place it where it will receive direct sunlight, particularly in the afternoon. Do not place it next to a heat source of any kind, including heating vents during winter.
Adequate ventilation is particularly important at high altitudes. System performance may not be optimum when the system is operating at high temperatures as well as high altitudes.
•Make sure that all slots and openings on the system remain unobstructed,
especially the fan vent on the back of the system.
•Clean the system at regular intervals to avoid any buildup of dust and debris, which can cause a system to overheat.
•If the system has been exposed to abnormally cold temperatures, allow a 2-hour warm-up period to bring it up to a normal operating temperature before turning it on. Failure to do so may cause damage to internal components, particularly the hard disk drive.
•If intermittent system failures are noticed, try reseating any socketed chips, which might have become loose because of temperature fluctuations.
High-humidity conditions can cause moisture migration and penetration into the system. This moisture can cause corrosion of internal components and degradation of properties such as electrical resistance and thermal conductivity. Extreme moisture buildup inside the system can result in electrical shorts, which can cause serious damage to the system.
Each system is rated to operate at 8 to 80 percent relative humidity, with a humidity gradation of 10 percent per hour. Buildings in which climate is controlled by air conditioning in the warmer months and by heat during the colder months usually maintain an acceptable level of humidity for system equipment. However, if a system is located in an unusually humid location, a dehumidifier can be used to maintain the humidity within an acceptable range.
Operating a system at high altitude (low pressure) reduces the efficiency of forced and convection cooling and can result in electrical problems related to arcing and corona effects. This condition can also cause sealed components with internal pressure, such as electrolytic capacitors, to fail or perform at reduced efficiency.
Each system is designed to operate at a maximum altitude of 3000 feet (914.4 meters) and can be stored at a maximum altitude of 7000 feet (2133 meters).
Dust and Particles
A clean operating environment can greatly reduce the negative effects of dust and other particles, which act as insulators and interfere with the operation of a system's mechanical components. In addition to regular cleaning, you should follow these guidelines to deter contamination of the system equipment:
•Do not permit smoking anywhere near the system.
•Do not permit food or drink near the system.
•Use dust covers when the system is not in use.
•Close windows and outside doors to keep out airborne particles.
The oil from a person's fingers or prolonged exposure to high temperature or humidity can corrode the gold-plated edge connectors and pin connectors on various devices in the system. This corrosion on system connectors is a gradual process that can eventually lead to intermittent failures of electrical circuits.
To prevent corrosion, you should avoid touching contacts on boards and cards. Protecting the system from corrosive elements is especially important in moist and salty environments, which tend to promote corrosion. Also, as a further deterrent to corrosion, the system should not be used in extreme temperatures, as explained in the "Temperature" section.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) results from the buildup of static electricity on the human body and certain other objects. This static electricity is often produced by simple movements such as walking across a carpet. ESD is a discharge of a static electrical charge that occurs when a person whose body contains such a charge touches a component in the system. This static discharge can cause components, especially chips, to fail. ESD is a problem particularly in dry environments where the relative humidity is below 50 percent.
To reduce the effects of ESD, you should observe the following guidelines:
•Wear a grounding wrist strap. If a grounding wrist strap is unavailable, touch an unpainted metal surface on the chassis periodically to neutralize any static charge.
•Keep components in their antistatic packaging until they are installed.
•Avoid wearing clothing made of wool or synthetic materials.
Electromagnetic and Radio Frequency Interference
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI) from a system can adversely affect devices such as radio and television (TV) receivers operating near the system. Radio frequencies emanating from a system can also interfere with cordless and low-power telephones. Conversely, RFI from high-power telephones can cause spurious characters to appear on the system's monitor screen.
RFI is defined as any EMI with a frequency above 10 kilohertz (kHz). This type of interference can travel from the system to other devices through the power cable and power source or through the air like transmitted radio waves. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) publishes specific regulations to limit the amount of EMI and RFI emitted by computing equipment. Each system meets these FCC regulations.
To reduce the possibility of EMI and RFI, follow these guidelines:
•Operate the system only with the system cover installed.
•Ensure that the screws on all peripheral cable connectors are securely fastened to their corresponding connectors on the back of the system.
•Always use shielded cables with metal connector shells for attaching peripherals to the system.
Because they store data magnetically, hard disk drives are extremely susceptible to the effects of magnetism. Hard disk drives should never be stored near magnetic sources such as the following:
•Telephones with real bells
Shock and Vibration
Excessive shock can damage the function, external appearance, and physical structure of a system. Each system has been designed to operate properly even after withstanding a minimum of six consecutively executed shock pulses in the positive and negative x, y, and z axes (one pulse on each side of the system). Each shock pulse can measure up to 5 gravities (G) for up to 11 milliseconds (ms). In storage, the system can withstand shock pulses of 20 G for 11 ms.
Excessive vibration can cause the same problems as mentioned earlier for shock, as well as causing components to become loose in their sockets or connectors. Systems can be subject to significant vibration when being transported by vehicle or when operated in an environment with machinery that causes vibration.
Power Source Interruptions
Systems are especially sensitive to variations in voltage supplied by the AC power source. Overvoltage, undervoltage, and transients (or spikes) can erase data from memory or even cause components to fail. To protect against these types of problems, power cables should always be properly grounded and one or both of the following methods should be used:
•Use one of the power protection devices described in the "Using Power Protection Devices" section.
•Place the system on a dedicated power circuit (rather than sharing a circuit with other heavy electrical equipment). In general, do not allow the system to share a circuit with any of the following:
–Any other motorized equipment
Besides these appliances, the greatest threats to a system's supply of power are surges or blackouts caused by electrical storms. Whenever possible, turn off the system and any peripherals and unplug them from their power sources during thunderstorms.
If a blackout occurs—even a temporary one—while the system is turned on, turn off the system immediately and disconnect it from the electrical outlet. Leaving the system on may cause problems when the power is restored; all other appliances left on in the area can create large voltage spikes that can damage the system.
Using Power Protection Devices
A number of devices are available that protect against power problems such as power surges, transients, and power failures. The following subsections describe some of these devices:
•Uninterruptible Power Supplies
Surge protectors are available in a variety of types and usually provide a level of protection commensurate with the cost of the device. Surge protectors prevent voltage spikes, such as those caused during an electrical storm, from entering a system through the electrical outlet. Surge protectors, however, do not offer protection against brownouts, which occur when the voltage drops more than
20 percent below the normal AC line voltage level.
Line conditioners go beyond the overvoltage protection of surge protectors. Line conditioners keep a system's AC power source voltage at a fairly constant level and therefore can handle brownouts. Because of this added protection, line conditioners cost more than surge protectors—up to several hundred dollars. However, these devices cannot protect against a complete loss of power.
Uninterruptible Power Supplies
Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems offer the most complete protection against variations in power because they use battery power to keep the system running when AC power is lost. The battery is charged by the AC power while it is available, so once AC power is lost, the battery can provide power to the system for a limited amount of time—from 15 minutes to an hour or so—depending on the UPS system.
UPS systems range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, with the more expensive units allowing you to run larger systems for a longer period of time when AC power is lost. UPS systems that provide only 5 minutes of battery power let you conduct an orderly shutdown of the system but are not intended to provide continued operation. Surge protectors should be used with all UPS systems, and the UPS system should be Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety-approved.