Data center and computer closet critical IT systems are mounted in racks. Racks are often enclosed for secure access, particularly if they are to be placed in a non-secure location. There are also open racks which have more space and flexibility and are placed inside server rooms. The 19-inch rack is the standardized size frame, which allows dense hardware configurations without taking up a lot of the floor space or shelving. Rack-mountable equipment is mounted by bolting or clipping its front panel to the rack.

Racks can be preconfigured or customized. Pre-configured racks are factory-assembled and are deployed quickly and easily. Customized racks are best for customers who require unique dimensions or specialized applications like water/dust proofing or shock resistance. Clients usually provide their own specifications and drawings and work closely with the provider to develop custom rack solutions.

To determine the rack size, data center managers should consider what kind of equipment will be placed in the rack and how many of each? The Rack Unit (U) which is equal to 1.75 inches (44.45 mm) is the unit of measurement used to define the vertical space available in a rack. It is applied to the rack as well as the devices inside it. 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. The rack depth is the distance of the front rail to the back of the back rail. Data center managers also need to account for the wire connections and airflow that are required.

Standard-sized racks are usually selected because they can fit standard-sized components. Using a single manufacturer for integrated and complementary rack solutions provides better security, improved availability, reduced cost, quicker deployments, and increased staff efficiency. Racks can be complemented with different accessories, including tool-less options that allow for quick installation and configuration.

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