Every data center needs racks for servers and other electronic equipment. Yet data center racks are not all the same. Some are ideal for certain types of data centers, businesses and specific equipment while others have their own idiosyncratic nuances that best serve other needs. In short, there is a wide range of data center racks and some are better than others.
When the time comes to select a data center rack and/or cabinets to store and protect your network equipment, you’ll have a number of considerations. You must weigh security with other factors like cooling, space, uptime, reliability, ease of access and the potential for future growth. Cabinets are ideal for certain data centers while open racks have their own merits as well. For some businesses, a 42u server rack cabinet will suffice. For others, an open rack that requires ample air flow and quick access will be more important.
Regardless of the type of data center rack that your business needs, it is critical to understand that rack quality varies significantly. Be sure to read the reviews of data center racks before making a commitment. Treat your purchase of your rack just as you would the purchase of a server, computer or even an automobile. This is a significant investment that can protect the integrity of your servers, determine whether your servers attain their life spans and even protect them from thieves.
Spend a good amount of time studying up on the many types of racks. Some will allow for ample air flow while others are more limited. Keep in mind that a full rack of data center equipment can generate significant heat. Sometimes it can generate upwards of 30 kW of heat. If your rack doesn’t allow this heat to exit, it’ll compromise the functionality and possibly the lifespan of your equipment. If your data center does not have a raised floor system, you’ll find that it is difficult to control air flow and properly cool your equipment. Don’t make the mistake of purchasing inferior data center racks that fail to allow ample air flow.
Certain racks permit cords to pass through the sides or back. Others have side, front or back doors that can lock. Some data center managers prefer cabinets because they offer extra control over cooling compared to open style racks. While cabinets do hold heat in their walls, heat control is possible with the chimney style approach that sends heat into a plenum area. Active fans can also suck in cooler air and send the hot air out of the cabinet. These types of options aren’t available with open style racks.
So do your homework before going all in on a data center rack. This is a major purchase that has the potential to impact your computer equipment as well as your budget today and far into the future.