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What You Need To Know About Using A Data Center Rack

What You Need To Know About Using A Data Center Rack

A data center rack is a type of storage unit. As the name suggests, data center racks are designed to meet the specific needs of data centers. This means that they are both mainstream and specialist. Here is a quick guide to what you need to know about data center racks.

Why use a data center rack?

The main reason for using data center racks is to get maximum value out of the space inside the data center. The main benefit of data center racks is that it encourages standardization. This helps with both physical organization and with organizing streamlined working practices.

Greater organization can go a long way to greater efficiency. This can often translate into greater cost savings. For example, using data center racks can help to encourage airflow. This reduces the workload on artificial cooling systems. It, therefore, reduces the cost of running them.

Likewise, using data center racks can make it much easier for data center staff to perform hardware-related tasks. This can save a lot of time and hence get businesses more value for their staffing costs. It can also increase job satisfaction and promote workplace safety.

Data center rack vs data center cabinet

Generally, when people refer to a data center rack, they mean the rack itself. When they refer to a data center cabinet, they mean the rack plus everything in it.

The main types of racks

There are multiple types of data center racks in use. The two most popular ones are standard racks and open racks.

Standard racks

Standard data center racks take their name from the fact that they are a standard size. This is 19” wide by 84 inches (7 feet) in height. A data center rack can, however, still be considered standard down to 73.5”.

For completeness, the height of a data center rack is generally specified in rack units. A rack unit is about 1.75”. The term rack unit is generally shortened to U or RU. This is often prefixed by a number. The number is a multiplier for the rack units. For example, 48U refers to a standard 7-foot data center rack.

Open racks

Most open data center racks are standard data center racks. The reason they are given a separate designation is that they are left open. In other words, they are not fitted into a cabinet in the same way as most other data center racks including standard ones.

Using open data center racks can make it much easier for staff to access components. This convenience does, however, need to be set against the additional risk of leaving equipment exposed. For practical purposes, the main risk is the effect of dust. This can very easily drift (or be sucked) into equipment. If it is, it can cause a lot of damage.

Other types of racks

Standard and open data center racks are the most commonly used types of data center racks. Other fairly common types of data center racks include wall-mounted data center racks and portable data center racks. There are also data center racks that are optimized for specific purposes such as storing especially bulky equipment.

Common features of data center racks

Most data center racks hold similar components. This includes data center racks that were optimized for specific purposes. Here are the main components you can expect to see in a data center rack.

Power distribution unit

A power distribution unit (PDU) is more than just a basic power supply. It is a system for delivering the right sort of electricity supply to diverse components. PDUs come in different shapes and sizes to suit different data center rack configurations. Popular options include horizontal, vertical, and inline styles.

Cable management systems

Cable clutter is a notorious problem in home offices. In data centers, it is a serious issue. Having some kind of cable management system is, therefore, a must in most data center racks.

Cooling systems

Even though using a data center rack does help to promote ventilation, most people still need some kind of cooling system. Popular options include air conditioning units, fans, and liquid cooling systems.

Performance monitoring systems

Data center racks often hold performance monitoring systems. These essentially monitor the health of the components inside the data center rack. If they detect that anything is amiss, they alert for assistance. Using performance monitoring systems is much more efficient than waiting for technicians to spot issues.

Security systems

Security systems protect against both environmental risks (such as fire) and the risk of tampering. They are considered essential in most data center racks.


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