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Technological advancements in the age of big data and Internet of Things (IoT) have resulted in an increase of computing demands as well as a change in geographical distribution and location types where IT systems are deployed.

IT managers are looking for IT infrastructure that is reliable, flexible, secure and operationally economical. For instance, when they design their server racks, they consider products that deliver protection and secure access to critical IT systems. They should be able to accommodate growth and expansion while being cost-effective. Many IT managers find value in using a single manufacturer for integrated and complementary solutions. This approach results in improved availability, quicker deployments, increased staff efficiency, better security and reduced cost.

What Is a Server Rack?

A server rack houses and organizes critical IT systems, which can be configured to support a wide range of requirements. Often called server rack cabinet, it is enclosed to ensure security. Server racks are most commonly found in data center environments, but can also be used in smaller computer closets.

The 19-inch server rack is the standardized size frame or enclosure for mounting equipment, and is used for computer server equipment. The 19-inch server rack allows dense hardware configurations without taking up a lot of the floor space or shelving. If you only require a small number of servers, it is the best choice economically due to its lower upfront costs.

Equipment placed on the rack is referred to as rack-mounted or rackmount device. Rack-mountable equipment is mounted by bolting or clipping its front panel to the rack.


Types of Server Racks

Server racks are sometimes called LAN racks, network racks or other terms but they are generally the same, rack enclosures where critical IT systems are mounted.

They can be preconfigured or customized. Pre-configured racks are factory-assembled and deployed quickly and easily. They are often the less expensive option.

Server racks can be customized to fit desired needs and specifications. Companies which require unique width, height, or depth dimensions or specialized applications like water or dust proofing or shock resistance can work closely with the provider to design a custom server rack solution.

Server racks cabinets can be classified as open frame or locked. Open server racks have more space and flexibility and allow cable accessibility usually from the top. Since they are not locked, they are often found inside secure server rooms.

Usually more expensive, closed server racks can be locked. It is a better option if the server rack will be placed outside a secure server room or in a nonsecure location.


Server Rack Size, Depth, Rack Unit (U)

To determine the server rack size, consider what kind of equipment will be placed in the server rack and how many. Standard-sized racks are usually selected because standard-sized equipment easily integrates in the rack.

The server rack depth is the distance of the front rail to the back of the back rail. Not only is it crucial to find out the size of the server rack component, IT managers also need to account for the wire connections and airflow required.

The Rack Unit (U or RU) is the unit of measurement used to define the vertical space available in an equipment rack.  It is applied to the server rack as well as the devices they hold. It is standardized as multiples of 1.75 inches (44.45 mm) or one rack unit or “U”. Most racks are sold in the 42U form, which means a single rack can hold forty-two (42) 1U devices, or any combination of 1U, 2U, 3U or other rack unit heights that add up to 42 or less.


Industry Standards

Server racks receive certifications by achieving standards set by respected authorities in the industry or region. Industry-standard rack enclosure systems usually save time and money on configuration and integration. Server racks can have these certifications:

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is an organization that publishes International standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. The EIA-310 provides the specifications for the standard rack, including several important features of 19″ racks, such as the Rack Unit, vertical hole spacing, horizontal hole spacing, rack opening and front panel width. The EIA-310E is the latest version.

The UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories) is a global safety certification company offering expertise across strategic businesses: commercial and industrial, consumer and UL ventures. UL2416 is a standard that covers requirements for audio/video, information and communication technology equipment cabinet, enclosure and rack systems.

Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), also known as Directive 2002/95/EC, is a set of criteria formulated by the European Union (EU) to regulate the use of toxic materials in electrical and electronic devices, systems, and toys.

Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is another European Union regulation. It addresses the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impact on both human health and the environment.

The International Building Code (IBC 2012) is a model code that provides minimum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety and general welfare of the occupants of new and existing buildings and structures.

Vertiv Rack Solutions

Vertiv offers data center racks, server rack cabinets, and enclosure solutions. These safeguard and support IT and networking equipment in computer rooms of all sizes, with rack enclosures that contain precision cooling, uninterruptible power, rack PDUs, and wiring management in a sturdy, lockable cabinet. Vertiv’s rack solutions include: Vertiv VR and Vertiv DSE Rack.

Vertiv VR Rack

The Vertiv VR Rack is a premium rack solution with best-in-class design and construction, comprehensive features and accessories, and quick shipment after receipt of order, all at a price point at or below comparable products. It supports all standard rack-based equipment including servers, storage, switches, routers, PDUs, UPSs, console port servers and KVM switches. It has a full complement of cable management and airflow management accessories.

It comes in eight standard sizes with load capacities of 3,000 pounds static and 2,250 dynamic. All models feature a frame design that delivers about 2.5 inches of additional useable depth compared to competitive racks. It features easily removable side panels to help IT managers access equipment, enabling changes in small spaces. Its tool-less design features allow for easy rack configuration and adjustments, equipment installation and service.

The Vertiv VR Rack System has these certifications: EIA 310E, UL2416, RoHS, and REACH. It comes with a three-year limited warranty against defects in material and workmanship.

Learn more about Vertiv VR Rack

Vertiv DCE Rack

The Vertiv DCE Rack System is ideal for today’s data centers as it is designed to meet flexibility, ease of installation and delivery requirements. It comes in pre-configured rack configurations customized to meet customers’ specific needs. It is compatible with Vertiv Geist rack PDUs, Liebert rackmount UPS, aisle containment, and Liebert modular busway. Factory installation of rack accessories allows for fast deployment.  The DCE rack includes tool-less hinges, dual split side panels, 19” rail adjustment, U markings on rails, low profile casters, and tool-less accessories.

The Vertiv DCE Rack System has these certifications: EIA 310E, UL2416, BAA/TAA Compliant, and IBC2012. It comes with a two-year limited warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.

Learn more about Vertiv DCE Rack

Integrated Solutions

Those running data centers would know that balancing best practices for capacity, space utilization, availability and efficiency has been difficult and may entail making sacrifices to meet distinct operational and business objectives. Failure to properly design and deploy physical infrastructure can lead to underutilized systems, stranded capacity and higher operating costs, preventing companies from gaining the full advantage of your data center.

IT managers realized the importance of using a single manufacturer for integrated and complementary solutions. Among the proven benefits of an integrated approach include: better security, improved availability, reduced cost, quicker deployments, and increased staff efficiency.

IT infrastructure solutions from Vertiv deliver purposefully designed and meaningfully integrated hardware, software, and services that enable organizations’ IT Infrastructure to be as dynamic as the business.  

Smart Solutions for Server Racks

Vertiv has developed Smart Solutions, an intelligent, integrated infrastructure for data centers. The Smart Solutions family uses a global design approach that can be localized for specific geographies. They allow IT Managers to cost-effectively achieve and manage their objectives for efficiency, capacity and availability. With Smart Solutions, Vertiv brings together the industry’s finest power, precision cooling, monitoring and management brands and businesses.

These offerings provide fast and easy implementation, through interoperable systems: precision cooling, UPS, power distribution/conditioning, management software and racks. Vertiv Smart Solutions deliver industry best practices and best of breed solutions in data center design and operations. Vertiv Smart Solutions roster include:

  • SmartCabinet
  • SmartRow
  • SmartMod
  • SmartAisle

For instance, the Vertiv SmartCabinet provides standardized IT infrastructure for remote locations, network closets and other edge of the network applications. The SmartCabinet comes in pre-engineered configurations that can be tailored to meet customers’ specific needs.

Learn more about Smart Solutions

Server Rack Cooling

Organizations consider efficient and reliable heat management and humidity control solutions geared to their specific size, location and business goals. Environmental and economic issues are driving businesses to utilize energy efficient, environmentally friendly solutions in their data centers. With thermal management systems, businesses can improve protection of their data centers and critical IT spaces, while ensuring low operating costs and enhancing their revenue potential.

Vertiv's self-optimizing and rapidly deployable thermal solutions maximize protection with scalable, space-saving solutions for the desired rack densities.

Learn more about Vertiv Thermal Management Solutions

Server Rack Accessories

Server racks can be complemented with different accessories.  

  • Cable Management
  • Airflow Management
  • Shelves and Supporting Brackets
  • Anchoring
  • Single Perforated Doors
  • Side Panels
  • Server Rails
  • PDU-Cable Management Brackets
  • Top Panels
Learn more about Vertiv VR accessories

Cable Management 

Current high-density rack-based IT server and switching installations allow improved levels of performance and capacity. However, power cabling must be managed within the confines of tightly spaced rack environments.

Rack cabling systems play an integral part in IT operations. Optimized cable management can enhance system availability and improve bottom line. It can reduce signal interference, improve maintenance and serviceability, enhance cooling efficiency and provide scalability and adaptability. However, improper cable management can result in cable damage and failure. This can lead to data transmission errors and performance issues as well as system downtime.

Learn more about proper cable management

Server Rack Cost

With today's competitive market, IT managers’ best option for server racks is not dictated just by price point. The upfront cost is weighed with the other essential qualities such as reliability, scalability, and support.

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