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Buying a Server Rack: How to Decide

Published by Jason Koffler on 23 January 2019

Keeping Everything Cool – Keep Everything Working

The whole idea behind using a server rack is to keep things cool – mainly the computer servers and IT hardware used to support IT operations. Because blade servers generate a good deal of heat, it pays to learn all you can about server racks.
Protecting the Latest in Server Technology

A blade server represents a chassis that houses multiple modular and thin electronic circuit boards. These circuit boards are server blades, with each blade or server supporting a single application. Each blade contains processors, a memory, I/O (input/output) ports, and, in some instances, an HBA (host bus adapter).

Blade Servers Better Optimise Space

If you want to reduce your rack space, you can do so with blade servers. Blade servers enable you to enjoy more processing power in less space, which simplifies cabling and reduces the energy used. In fact, when choosing a server rack, you can experience up to an 85% reduction in cabling if you add a server blade installation.

IT administrators like this type of set-up, as they spend much less time managing the IT infrastructure. Blade servers are sometimes referred to as high-density servers, and typically are employed in a clustering of servers – all designed to form one task, such as transcoding, streaming video or audio, web page serving, or file sharing activities.

An Example of a Popular Server Rack

One of the popular racks used for this purpose is the APC Netshelter SX. This multi-functional enclosure is designed to meet current applications, ranging from high-density computing to audio and video broadcasting needs.

The Netshelter SX emphasises cooling, and supports cable organisation, power distribution, and environmental tracking. If you have mission-critical equipment, this is the server rack to choose.

Maybe you need a more affordable version. If so, you might consider the APC Netshelter SV. This cost-effective solution ensures cooling of high-density servers and easy management of cabling. Optional features include side panels. You can also select an unassembled version to further reduce the expense.

Rack Servers

While blade servers represent the latest development in server configurations, rack servers are also used by companies. The rack server is made to be placed in a bay and allows you to stack several devices on top of one another within a large tower.

The bay accommodates all the needed hardware a business requires to function, including the server, security, storage devices, and network support appliances. IT managers like this type of system, as it gives them the ability to access all the components in one area. Therefore, the connections are easier to manage and the system easier to maintain. The bay serves as a data centre for this type of design.

Supporting Business Growth

Rack servers possess a greater storage capacity, and are made for smaller and medium businesses where IT is a priority. However, with that being said, the innovative blade servers provide more processing power and use less energy. Regardless of what you may use, drives can be added to each design to support company growth. That is why you need to make sure your equipment is cool and functional.

How Do You Cool Your Equipment?

The kind of rack you select will depend on the cooling used in your business. The heat output per rack varies, depending on the density and kind of equipment. Output, in high-density environments, can range from 30 to 50 kilowatts (kW) for each rack.

If you wish to allow for optimum ai flow, select a fully perforated rack. This type of rack works in ambient-cooled environments. Ambient cooling can take the form of blowers, air handlers, fans, or computer room air conditioning (CRAC) devices with an elevated floor. Fully sealed server racks can also be chosen if you use a rack air conditioner or liquid cooling device.

Choosing a Server Rack Size

When you choose a server rack, you need to make sure you choose one that provides enough internal space. The space must accommodate your equipment and feature additional space to support future equipment purchases. Rack mounted equipment is measured by rack units. One rack unit equals approximately 4.45 centimetres in height. Make sure you account for other accessories, such as the following:

- Remote power management devices
- Rack mounted LCD monitors
- Battery back-ups
- Environmental tracking devices.

Also, keep the following in mind: A rack’s height inside is measured from the tallest part of a side rail to the bottom of the chassis. The depth within the enclosure spans from the front door to the back door. Internal widths span from one side panel to the next.

Accommodating the External Space

You will need to make sure the external measurements of the rack fit within the allotted floor space as well. The rack should be designed so it can be securely moved through doorways. Follow the proper rack-loading techniques – place heavy items toward the bottom so the rack does not become top-heavy and topple over.

Eaton Racks – One of the Popular Options

Sourcing flexible configurations in racks is easy when you review Eaton rack products. In fact, many users consider Eaton enclosures to be the most flexible platforms around. All the racks Eaton makes are designed for rack-mounted IT hardware.

Customising Your Server Rack

You can customise a rack design to work for your business by keeping the following in mind:

- Shelving for server racks includes fixed or adjustable shelves with four-point mounting designs, or sliding keyboard shelves that feature two-point mounting configurations. You can choose shelves that are cantilevered, vented, or made for holding media. Select a rack shelf that features a depth of about 15cm less than the complete depth of the rack. For instance, if your cabinet is 76 centimetres deep, the shelf should be around 61 centimetres.

- Top and side panels are used to protect hardware and accessories from foreign residue. You can choose perforated slots for additional airflow, grommet holes for better cable management, and mounting designs to house exhaust fans. Side panels provide extra security, and frequently are available in solid removable, solid fixed, and louvered options.

- Mounting rails come in two sets. However, you can order more rails to accommodate varying depths and assist with rack loading.

- Feet options make it possible for you to stabilise loads and keep the cabinet from falling over. Some products feature retractable feet for this purpose. You can also find cabinets with casters that help you manoeuvre enclosures more easily. Levellers should be included if casters are used to move a rack from place to place.

As you can see, you can need to carefully consider your options. If you want to ensure the continual operation of your mission-critical equipment, a server rack, or data centre enclosure, proves to be an indispensable aid.