Making space

05 November 2019

Marc Garner, vice president Secure Power UKI, Schneider Electric

Marc Garner, vice president Secure Power UKI, Schneider Electric

Your choice of racks and cabinets depends on where they’re to be installed. It could be a small server room or branch office, an edge data centre, a micro-data centre or a medium to large data centre. Each site differs in the way it’s been designed or evolved.

Most server, storage and network equipment fit 19-inch racks, based on the standard of the Electronic Industry Alliance (EIA).  In data centres with 1-3kW/rack, the most popular have been 600mm (24 inches) wide, 1070mm (42 inches) deep, and 42U tall. 

Most professionally-run data centres support standardised racks to host a variety of equipment densities and form factors that may also require additional accessories.  Increasingly, 48U, 52U and even 58U racks are being used to fit more equipment in the same footprint.

On the other hand, small server rooms and branch offices are typically unorganised, unsecure, hot, unmonitored and space constrained.  These conditions can lead to downtime or, at the very least, those “close calls” that get the attention of management.

As edge data centres emerge, pod-style architectures are increasingly being deployed. These can be used with hot or cold aisle cooling, with rack-ready data centre systems enabling users to pre-configure cabling work overhead for fast and flexible scaling.

Here’s my four-stage selection guide:

• Establish some basic parameters of your equipment, such as dimensions and load capacity. Remember to include non-IT kit such as rack PDUs, automatic transfer switches (ATS), rack-mounted UPS and so on. Note that, due to cabling requirements, network racks are generally wider than server racks.

• Now select dimensions and load capacity based on those attributes. Think about these three factors:

1. If your future requirements are unknown, it may be worth specifying over-sized racks for greater densities.

2. Higher rack density generally means greater weight, so make sure that your racks (and the floor) can support the highest density.

3. Choose vendor-neutral racks for the widest range of equipment from the largest number of suppliers; that will keep open your options for the future.

• Select your preferences. These might include colour, door style (curved, angled), type of door lock, seismic bracing, etc. Remember your design criteria should be achieved – for example, any change to the doors should not restrict airflow.

• Choose accessories to improve overall efficiency.  These can be utilised in a range of ways, for example to improve cooling through airflow containment, cut downtime through power capacity and cable management and reduce physical threats and human error through monitoring and management software. 

Search “How to Choose an IT Rack” from my company for more advice.

Marc Garner, vice president Secure Power UKI, Schneider Electric