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Considerations When Buying A Server Rack
Buying a cabinet for your server racks is one of the most important parts of designing your data centre, but the process can be mystifying. Whether it is one rack or 100 racks the main point is to optimize the physical space available in your environment and maximize efficiency. Here is a short guide on factors to consider when choosing your network or server cabinet.
The Number of Rack Units You Need
When buying a server cabinet, you should first determine the best rack unit usage for your needs. A rack unit is a standard for measuring rack mount equipment. One rack unit is 1.75 inches or 44.45 mm in height. One rack unit is also called “1U.” Server cabinets usually come as 40U, 42U, 44U and 48U enclosures.
Dimensions and Fit
Selecting a server rack with sufficient internal space to house your current equipment and enough room to accommodate planned future expansion is probably the first and most essential requirement. Keep in mind that space for accessories such as environmental monitoring devices, sensors, remote power management devices, rack mounted LCD monitors and battery back-up may also be necessary.
In terms of layout, a well planned cabinet is the first piece in the data centre efficiency puzzle. Cabling requirements, direction and interconnects should be addressed in tandem with adjustable profiles to create an easily manageable and agile rack. Our advice is drawing this out and basing your rack purchase on this design. Sending a Visio, CAD or even a simple sketch to an expert will save time, as the design can be based around this spec as well as your budget requirements.
To determine what dimensions fit your space, figure out the equipment you want to house in your server cabinet. Get extra cabinet space for both the front and rear for future expansions; as a rule, add 10 percent more room, because rack units cannot be adjusted once you buy your server cabinet. Also, keep in mind that the external dimensions should be able to fit through doorways, stairways and meet any other clearance regulations of your building.
Functional Requirements and Aesthetics
There are functional and aesthetic elements that enhance how you use your server cabinet. For instance, good management of a POD server includes good power, cooling and cabling distribution. To determine what power distribution unit your cabinet requires, consider AMP, plug, outlet and redundancy requirements. Proper ventilation is also necessary so your servers function correctly.
With cyber threats more prevalent than ever, data centre security is critical to the overall operation of a business and understanding how a server rack fits into a company’s wider security blueprint is vital. Most racks come with front and rear mesh doors – 80% as a minimum (unless you’re employing rear door cooling or a chimney based solution) and a locking handle.
Combination locks are the next step up; usually 3 digits are commonplace on a manufacturer’s accessory list. Couple this with a door sensor from your environmental monitoring solution and depending on access procedures, the security of the rack has been increased.
Hanging higher up the security tree is electronic access control. Only offered by a handful of quality manufacturers, this type of system gives tighter control and access rights along with card-based time and location permissions. For an even more secure solution, some systems now support biometrics.
A huge consideration when making a decision on what type of rack to purchase is the type of cooling you employ. Blanking options, side panels, separators and brushes are a must with all types of cooling as they limit the mixing of hot and cold air and make sure mechanical equipment is working as efficiently as possible. Ensuring that cable management within the rack enables free flow of hot air from the rear of the server without restriction is critical, so using cable rings and fingers is a good idea but again this all comes down to pre-project planning for the cabinet.
The considerations with power strips and PDUs housed within a rack is mounting location, orientation and cable distribution. Often overlooked, the grouping of a mass of cables to the rear of the cabinet can have an effect on the airflow through the cabinet as well as affecting their own integrity due to the heat created by the servers.
Depending on the choice of PDUs and cable routing, cut outs in the rack need to be addressed. If PDUs are top-fed for example then top cut outs to the left and right of the cabinet with adequate brush strips, to limit the air mixing, are needed. Depending on where the network cabling is being routed too may mean further cut outs to be considered to the top of the cabinet or alternatively to make plans to route these down through a floor grommet. Furthermore bend radius and available space for the rack doors to close are also two factors not to go unnoticed in the layout and internal spacing of the rack.
When considering all the above elements, seek advice and spend time with an expert who knows the whole market as rack quality can vary significantly. Source UPS offer free independent advice on a wide range of racks and accessories, so contact us today to discuss your requirements.
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We have 9 UK data centres and Source UPS are our preferred supplier for infrastructure. Their advice is always valuable and well considered. I would strongly recommend Source UPS.