Best Practices for Choosing Server Racks in a Data Center

19 rack cabinets

A well designed data center is a critical part of any company. Having an unstable data center can lead to outages that shut down operations and cost a company thousands of dollars. Doing your due diligence at the front-end when planning the physical infrastructure of your data center creates a stable environment and avoids costly outages. Here are some best practices for designing and organizing a data center that ensure it runs at its optimal efficiency.

1. Pay Attention to The External Dimensions of the Rack

Even a state of the art data center rack system is completely null and void if it doesn’t fit through the door. Take into consideration the floor plan of the usable space in the data center, as well as any corridors, stairways, doors, and sharp turns that you will need to navigate the server rack cabinets through just to get it through the door.

2. Be Forward Thinking with Internal Dimensions

Internal rack height dimensions are measured in “rack units” and described in multiples of “U”. One rack unit, or 1U, is equal to 1.75 inches. To figure out the internal height of a server rack in inches, multiply the number of rack units by 1.75. For example, a 36U server rack has 63 inches of internal height (36 X 1.75=63).

The most common internal width of server rack is 19 inches, but 23 inch server racks are also available. Depending on the number of rack units in a server rack, 19 rack shelves can accommodate anywhere from 42 servers (in a standard 42U server rack) to hundreds of servers.

Once the server racks are installed, they cannot be added onto. For this reason, when considering server rack sizes necessary to accommodate your equipment, take into account future expansion. You will also need to calculate additional space for server support accessories such as back up batteries, monitoring equipment, and bulky cables. For example, if you require 42U server rack cabinet with 19 rack shelves, it might be prudent to get a 44U server rack for some contingency space.

3. Use Strategic Placement of Equipment on the Rack Shelves

A well designed server rack setup will improve efficiency for the data center. Place servers and equipment that need to be accessed more frequently in the front 19 rack shelves and equipment that is maintained less often closer to the back. Place heavier equipment on the bottom of the racks so that the racks don’t get too top heavy and become unstable.

4. Use Rack and Equipment Placement to Help Maintain Temperature

Maintaining appropriate temperatures for the equipment to function efficiently is one of the most important factors in running a data center. According to OpenXtra, a server room environment monitoring company, a server room should never be colder than 50 degrees or warmer than 82 degrees. Most data centers operate at temperatures ranging from 68 to 72 degrees.

Being strategic about the placement of equipment can really aid in maintaining the correct temperature. Identify hot spots and use temperature monitoring systems to ensure they remain stable. Remove outdated and unused equipment to prevent unnecessary usage and heat generation. Utilize a server rack cooling system to maintain air flow and cooler temperatures when equipment is working hard.

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