Friday, August 9, 2019

How to Choose Data Center Racks / Cabinets

With the rise of colocation, enterprise and edge data centers, the requirements for data center racks have changed from being a cabinet that manages equipment to a rack enclosure that can reduce data center operational costs by preserving valuable floor space, optimizing cooling and increasing the efficiency of IT staff.

There are 6 considerations before choosing a data center rack:-

1) Weight Loads

Today's organizations need data center cabinets that can hold heavier loads and maintain their structural integrity when shipped with equipment. This could mean shipping from their facility directly to a data center, or shipping from an off-site integrator directly to their data center. Shipping a fully-populated rack allows for a faster data center build-out. The raised floor and the maximum floor loading should be considered as well.

2) Open Framed or Closed Frame

Open frame racks typically cost about one third as its equivalent counterpart in a closed frame option. There is nothing to obstruct airflow from circulating through the rack for cooling. But all your equipment is exposed making it susceptible to theft. Your servers' buttons or wires may also accidentally get pulled or pushed.


On the other hand, the process of installing or maintaining equipment is trickier for the closed fram racks due to the obstructed nature. If you choose to use this type of rack, sliding rails and shelves for severs and other equipment is highly recommended.

3) Sizing and Capacity

Server racks are sized in units classified as "U" space. Each U represents 1.75". So, a server rack that is 58U is 101.5" tall. The rack height is significant for how much equipment that can be held inside, as well as how much power can be transmitted to equipment in the server storage device. Some organizations may require more space between the server rack and the ceiling for cooling and cabling matters.

Your data center business grows fast. Leaving racks' space for few years later is a good planning for data center expansion.

4) Off-site Integration Processes

Racks should provide the flexibility to accommodate equipment from multiple vendors in a company’s supply chain, and the equipment needs of its data center environment. Many standard cabinets make it difficult to meet these needs, and many companies are turning to custom cabinets to increase overall flexibility and maximize efficiency in their off-site integration process.

5) Multi-vendor IT Environments

Racks need to provide maximum usable space, adequate clearances for airflow, easy access for troubleshooting and reconfiguration of equipment by IT staff and minimize air mixing.

6) The Rising Cost of Cooling

Cooling can be one of the top costs in today’s data center and reducing cooling costs, which can begin at the rack level, can play a major role in reducing overall energy consumption. More powerful equipment and greater data center densities have increased the heat generated in each rack, causing computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units to work harder than ever.

For example, the closed frame racks isolate heat sensitive equipment inside the frame. You have more control over where that air flows with the addition of fans and cooling accessories designed for closed frame racks. Therefore, it is critical to have a rack that supports optimized cooling efficiencies.

Strategic Media Asia (SMA) -
Connecting IT, Facilities and Design

SMA combines with professional Chartered Engineers (CEng) from the Institute of Engineering Technology (IET), the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE). Our engineers have more than 20 years experience in data center design & build, building services engineering and energy conservation in the private and public sectors.

The team exists to provide an interactive environment and opportunities for members of data center and facilities' engineers to exchange professional views and experience, through various training courses, industry events and technical seminars. We prepare the engineers and IT personnel to face any challenges in data centers and critical facilities of any size, in any location.

For other design considerations / topics in data center and critical infrastructure, please visit 

(1) Site Selection,
(2) Space Planning,
(3) Cooling,
(4) Redundancy,
(5) Fire Suppression,
(6) Meet Me Rooms,
(7) UPS Selection,
(8) Raised Floor,
(9) Code & Standards,
(10) Transformers and Harmonic Distortion,
(11) Multi-mode UPS Systems,
(12) Electrical Rooms,
(13) Generator Systems,
(14) Generator Fuel Systems

(15) Battery Systems,

(16) Earthing / Grounding and Bonding, etc.