If You Want Server Rack Success, Ask The Right Questions

Posted by Gaw Technology on 4/23/2013
Rules to live by:
  1. Never dive head first into a pool with ambiguous depth.
  2. Never run with scissors.
  3. Never make rash, uninformed decisions when purchasing your server racks, cabinets and data center accessories.

Before buying your server racks and server rack accessories, you need to take the manufacturer or distributer aside to get a sense of a few things. Ask the following key questions to ensure you’re getting enclosures that not only fit your equipment’s needs, but also give you high performance for the long run.

What types of enclosures and accessories are best for my situation?

Explain your needs and ask the manufacturer what style of cabinets and types of accessories will optimize your server situation with regard to organization, energy efficiency and productivity.

It’s not just a matter of choosing which custom cabinets to purchase -- airflow baffles, fan units, base footing, power distribution, cable management, console drawers and shelving, etc. You should also make sure the manufacturer goes over the stylistic and functional options you have for each type of accessory. 

How many rack units do I need? 

Before we get into that question though, here’s some clarification on the distinctions between server racks, cabinets and shelves.

    • The server cabinet, which is fitted with doors and side panels, is what encloses the rack.
    • The rack is the frame that allows you to mount your electronic equipment.
    • Sliding or fixed shelves are then used to support your equipment within the rack.

So what’s a rack unit? A rack unit, “U” or “RU,” is a unit of measure used to describe the height of equipment intended for mounting in a 19-inch rack or a 23-inch rack. One U is 1.75 inches high.

And finally, how many rack units do you need? That’s what you need to ask your manufacturer. Once a rack has been fabricated, units can’t be added, so sizing your equipment to determine the quantity of rack units you need is absolutely key.

When determining this number, make sure to keep future expansion in mind. So your best bet is to give yourself at least 10% additional room for expansion. Migrating from one server cabinet to another because you need more space will cost you time, money and headaches. Not worth it.

But internal space requirements for your rack aren’t the only numbers you have to consider…

What are your server racks’ external dimensions?

You don’t want to get a custom cabinet created, only to realize it won’t fit through your doorframe!

The external dimensions of a cabinet are bigger than simply multiplying the number of rack units by 1.75 inches. This is because the cabinet has to make room for cable entry, fan trays and jacking feet or casters.

The standard cabinet is 40U or 44U tall with an average external height of 76 and 83 inches, average external width of 24 inches and average external depth of 36 and 42 inches, respectively.

But the takeaway is this: each manufacturer’s server rack external dimensions may vary slightly, so get the precise numbers.

Don’t dive head first into your data center purchases without doing some investigative work with the manufacturer or distributer. Ask the right questions, get the right information and make the right purchases for your network equipment.

Want more advice on server rack purchasing strategies? Click the button below to contact us at Gaw Technology and one of our Enclosure Consultants will help you make the right decisions every step of the way, from purchase to installation.

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