Zen and the Art of Running a Data Center

canstockphoto4912969by TechRack Systems

Chances are you and your team work hard to ensure that your data center is set up and maintained properly, but did you ever think about seeking advice on how to make it not just more energy efficient but also more energetically balanced? That just might be possible with the ancient art of feng shui, the Chinese philosophical system of environmental harmony.

Although it might seem odd for ideas that are thousands of years old to be applicable to the care and maintenance of data centers that were invented only a few decades ago, but many of the general principles of feng shui just make good common sense. The principle of repairing or fixing anything that is broken, cracked, or rotting isn’t just a good idea but is also a professional imperative. Another obvious maxim is to clear away all clutter, easy to understand but hard to do!

Maybe less applicable is the suggestion to make your space beautiful (“Live with what you love!”) and to bring in nature, although maybe a plant or two in the entryway is a good idea. It has the added fortune of satisfying the recommendation to make your entryway enticing – after all, that’s how the chi gets in. Chi is the basic energy of the universe, kind of like The Force…and who doesn’t want more of that?

But it’s not just about rearranging your server racks and sweeping out dust. Peace of data mind also comes from within. Our “monkey mind” can distract us with inner questions, so here’s some advice from the ancient masters to put you in that ZEN state of mind.

Q: Do I need an emergency back-up generator?
A: “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”  – Marie Curie

Q: What is the rated floor weight limit for my server racks?
A: “Life is more or less a lie, but then again, that’s exactly the way we want it to be.”  – Bob Dylan

Q: What is the best way to ensure facilities have dust-contained, raised floors?
A: Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does.”  – Epictetus

Q: How do I install fiber network cables into the server cabinets?
A: “I’d love to give you something but what would help?”  – Ikkyu

Q: What is the best way to configure my data center power systems?
A: “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”  – Confucius

Q: How can I get more airflow through equipment racks?
A: “Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place.”  – Lao Tzu

Q: What’s the advantage of fully enclosed cabinets versus open racks?
A: “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.”  – William Shakespeare

Q: I have my computer equipment in front of an air conditioning unit and yet the equipment still runs hot. Why and how can I fix it?
A: “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”  – Pablo Picasso

Q: Where should I place perforated floor tiles, in relation to small server racks, in order to maximize air floor and cooling?
A: “Your duty is to choose, not to choose this or that.”  – Zen Koan

Q: How often do I need to check aging equipment to ensure it’s in good working order?
A: “Man who stands on hill with his mouth open will wait a long time for roast duck to drop in.”  – Confucius

Q: What’s the best approach to upgrading older server racks?
A: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  – Lao Tzu

Thoughts from the old masters and TechRack Systems: techrack.com; 888-266-3577.


canstockphoto2944364“I Stick My Rack Out For Nobody.”

by TechRack Systems

It was a quiet night at the data center. The day shift was gone, and the house lights were out. Street lamps shone through the fog and across the desk of Rack Blanca, now slumped over a tangle of old cords, an empty glass by one hand, and a near-empty bottle by the other. At the sound of footsteps, Rack stirs, pours a drinks and knocks it back just as Sam, the night onsite engineer, walks in.

“Is that you, boss?” Sam says. Rack just looks at him, expressionless. The light of a passing truck sweeps the scene, and Rack reaches for the bottle in silence. Sam tries again. “Boss?”


“Ain’t you going to bed?”

Rack takes a swig. “Not right now.”

“Ain’t you planning on going to bed in the near future?”

“No!” Rack is clearly in a grim mood. Sam settles in and starts to fiddle with some equipment.

Rack hangs his head. “Of all the data centers in all the towns in all the world, she had to walk into mine.” Sam nods; Rack’s talking about the new manager, Ella. He figured she would show up sometime – after all, everyone comes to Rack’s.

“What’s that you’re doing?” Rack looks up at Sam.

“Oh nothing, just looking over some PUE data,” Sam shrugs, trying to seem casual, but really, this was something Ella asked for. Her job was to ensure the data center basics were all in place, and she was a stickler for power continuity and secure server enclosures. She’d been bugging Sam to ensure their UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) was solid.

“PUE. What’s that?”

Rack must be really drunk, Sam thinks. “C’mon, boss, you know – Power Usage Effectiveness. Don’t you want me to keep us running efficiently, and avoid brownouts, blackouts? Then I gotta measure our power usage. Anyway, that’s what Ella said…” Sam sees Rack wince, and knows he shouldn’t have mentioned Ella.

“Oh yeah? So you’re measuring power usage for her, huh? Well, now measure it for me. C’mon! I can take it. If she can be more efficient, I can!”

Sam shrugs again, and Rack’s thoughts drift back to earlier that afternoon, when Ella had suddenly showed up, in his private office, lowering the blinds. She said she wanted to talk security, and so he pretended to believe her, for old time’s sake.

First she started talking about cameras – how many security cameras did they have and in what locations. Maybe they should hire security guards. Didn’t he want to protect his data?

“Want to?” Rack had said. “Baby, I have to protect my data and lock my server cabinets. But it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of one little data center don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world…”

Some women were never satisfied; luckily she didn’t bother to bring up fingerprint and retinal scanners – she knew Rack’s was too low rent for that – but she really pressed him on the firewalls. “And I’m not talking those little boxes inside the computers,” she’d purred. “I mean, actual walls for preventing fires. Rack, can you give me that?”

Ella had looked around the place with a bit of distain. “What’s happened to this place? Sure, it’s always safer to keep a low profile – no reason to just let in anyone when you’ve got data to keep secure, but…” She ran her finger along a dusty air duct. “Can’t you at least keep the equipment running?”

Rack had only half listened as she talked about the sad state of his old HVAC. “Rack, we’ve got to optimize our environmental factors.” She never used to talk so fancy. “Keeping the cold rooms at 70 degrees, like in the old days…you don’t need to. Let’s bring the heat up to 80, and re-think server density, I bet we can reduce operational costs just by…”

Leave it to her to bring up the past, that very first data center they ever worked in together. Now that place had bad airflow management. Ella’s throat had always been dry, but that just made her sultry voice even better…back when she’d loved him…

Suddenly, a crash startles Rick awake. His bottle was in broken bits on the floor, and Sam was already grabbing a broom to sweep it up, singing a little tune to himself. “The world will always welcome data, as time goes by.”

Rack sits up. Sam was right. No need to dwell on the past. Rack turns back to the QuadAdjust 24” deep wire shelf unit he’d been installing before going off on that bender. It was a sweet piece of TechRack’s equipment, heavy duty chrome finish, perfect welds and able to hold a ton. Who needs women when you got equipment like this, he thought. Heck, it might just be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Oh No… HELP! Do You Have a Solid Disaster Recovery Plan for your #DataCenter?

canstockphoto15431220by TechRack Systems

A disaster recovery plan is one of the most important elements of a well-run data center. Sometimes, however, important areas can go unaddressed—not intentionally, but because of other priorities, or the “set it and forget it” mindset to name a few. In order to take all possible precautions, consider these often-overlooked items for disaster recovery planning.

#1 – Not Thinking of the “Common” Disasters

More often than not, it’s the more typical incidents, like a failed power supply or a software crash, that occur and cause havoc rather than a natural disaster such as an earthquake or a hazardous material spill. These smaller-scale but no less important crises should have their own “mini-plan” to ensure steps are in place to address, if and when they occur. Otherwise you’ll be making up a plan as you go during a disaster situation.

#2 – Your Technologies Have Cobwebs

Well, hopefully you do not have literal cobwebs. It may be good fortune that you’ve never had to dust off the disaster recovery plan from its spot on the back shelf, but there is a downslide to this too: The older the plan, the more likely it will include obsolete technology and outdated tactics. This could result in a major problem should a disaster occur. Review your current disaster recovery plan and conduct a technology audit; determine if alternatives for “old” technologies are required, and if so, what needs to be replaced. The extra effort could save time and money, and most importantly, stave off a panic situation during a disaster and subsequent recovery time.

#3 – The Plan Has Never Been Practiced

You may have an airtight disaster recovery plan on paper, but has it ever been put to the test? Doing a practice run is the best bet against failure. Test the realities of the actual conditions and situation of your data center. Since business processes, IT operations, and personnel do change all the time, your plan must reflect these shifts. Also, your test run will accomplish several things: You will learn information that could change the plan (i.e., data have been moved from one server rack to another, for example), and also provides an opportunity to iterate and tighten up the plan. This testing will help all participants to fully understand the list of recovery priorities for services and data.

#4 – Know Your Service Level Agreements (SLA)

Another area that can fall between the cracks is details of your SLA and/or support contract with your vendor. Since there are different types of response levels depending on the agreement, you must fully read and understand what your service contracts encompass so you can plan for it. For instance, your data center may have what you consider to be an “emergency”, but your contract may specify different criteria that qualifies with your third party vendors and service providers. Conducing this review may also potentially mean you must upgrade or downgrade service levels in your contract.

#5 – What About Software Licensing?

Another commonly missed component to disaster recovery planning is software licensing. For instance, many software vendors allow for site licensing that is not active (“passive” licensing), but depending on how the software is set up and deployed, it could become unusable after the disaster recovery backup is initiated. This can lead to huge recovering back up issues and delays, including limited storage and processing resources. Don’t let this happen and stall the process of getting back to business.

#6 – It’s Not Just the Plan, It’s the People

Sure, you have a communications plan, but what about the people actually doing the work? It’s critical to compile a complete list of responsibilities and tasks, with detailed information on task areas and everyone’s role within the plan. Components would likely include accountability, informing, consulting, and other task development and execution steps. For example, who will be responsible for informing clients and customers of the down-time period? What specific actions will they take? A detailed people plan ensures that escalation and authorization processes are followed in order to keep systems running as smoothly as possible in disaster and recovery modes.

Find out more about disaster recovery resources. For questions about your data center server cabinet needs, visit our website (www.techrack.com) or contact us at sales@techrack.com or 888-266-3577.

What if Guardians of the Galaxy Ran Your Data Center?

canstockphoto1633351by TechRack Systems

Come on admit it. You not only saw Marvel Studios flick Guardians of the Galaxy, but you too became a fast fan of heroine Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). Well, join the crowd. Most of the ladies dig bad-boy-turned-likeable leader Quill aka Star Lord, and the guys? Well, we just want to emulate him. So how would Quill run a data center? Very carefully. That is, of course, after he realized that like the power of the orb being essential to the existence of universe, the data center is the life-force of every company it supports. Take away the data center (or the cloud that powers it) and poof, the company turns blue and audibly chokes until it gets CPR.

So what lessons can you glean from this summer blockbuster and apply to your data center? Plenty. For starters, most of us have to work with and even train some disparate misfits that we’d rather not deal with. Just about everyone we’ve talked to has had to office with, service or partner with their fair share of gun-toting raccoons (Bradley Cooper), tree-like humanoids (Vin Diesel), master assassins (Zoa Saldana), and revenge-driven destroyers (Dave Bautista). And how many times have you counted yourself escaping from ruthless, persistent bounty hunter-like bosses or career climbing colleagues? It’s enough to keep you awake at night but we can all relate to these classic archetypes at one time or another in our careers. Appealing to the strengths of your adversaries and tossing them a lifeline when they need it most will surely win even the hardest hearts over as Quill did triumphantly with deadly Gamora.

And what about the bad seeds and villains you reluctantly come in contact with from time to time? Well we all have to grin and bear it when we deal with unsavory characters like Ronan (Lee Pace), Korath (Djimon Hounsou), Nebula (Karen Gillian), Yondu (Michael Rooker) and even the Collector (Benicio Del Toro). Negotiation skills, quick thinking and unrelenting humor often save the day when you’re forced to deal with sub-par or hard-to-please knuckleheads to keep the network up and running. Turning hard-to-deal-with co-workers who want to see you fail into a cohesive, supportive team is not only rewarding but it makes anything possible. And a great soundtrack never hurts.

If you are a Data Center Manager looking to become a Guardian of your Galaxy, visit our website: www.techrack.com, or contact us at sales@techrack.com or 888-266-3577

Are Your #Data #Center #Servers in Tip Top Shape?

canstockphoto12893445by TechRack Systems

At most data centers, servers get the least amount of attention—not because they aren’t important, of course—but because they are the most “stable” elements compared to other IT priorities. Taking the time to address potential pitfalls that can occur with servers can avoid future problems.

Ditch the Dust

One of the biggest issues for electronic equipment is that it attracts dust and other particles. Because of the airflow patterns in data centers, it doesn’t take long to cause equipment issues. Take these precautions:

  • Use air filters and sealed doors on server racks and cabinets to help eliminate dust getting into servers and peripherals.
  • Limit who has access to the server area to avoid opportunities for touching equipment.
  • When opening cardboard boxes or other materials, avoid doing so near the server cabinets since particles can become airborne quickly.
  • If there is construction near the servers, clean up residual sheet rock or other materials that can corrode equipment components.

Let Equipment Breathe

One of the most common problems with server equipment is that the electronics inside can cause it to run hot. If the air doesn’t have the opportunity to expel, computers and peripherals can overheat, fail, or become a fire hazard if not ventilated properly. Here are some tips for upkeep:

  • Use perforated metal doors and side panels and fans for better air flow into and through the cabinet.
  • Vented shelves to allow fixed air space between pieces of equipment; it is discouraged to stack components on top of each other as it can cause overheating.

Check Aging Equipment

Electronic equipment and its software have a limited life even when it seems to be in good working order. For instance, CPUs, adapters, and other hardware can be used for years, but the applications and software that run on computing equipment can degrade the overall performance over time.

  • Evaluate all components to ensure good wear-leveling and endurance; factor these into your software purchasing and maintenance cycles.
  • Work closely with equipment vendor(s) to ensure you understand lifespan, managing and protecting the equipment, and warranty details.
  • Compare your current equipment with the latest version(s) to determine if it’s more cost-effective to retire it and purchase new models.

Do a “Once-Over” on Equipment

Periodically, it’s recommended to do a hands-on evaluation of the physical appearance of servers and peripherals to make sure they’re in good working order:

  • Check hardware for error indicators or lights and any hardware termination or interoperability issues.
  • Test the functionality of all peripheral equipment to make sure it’s operating properly.
  • Check all plugs and cabling; look for wear and tear and any incorrect cabling; investigate disconnected cables and adjust or remove them.

Taking these steps can help extend working life of your server equipment, reduce the chance of service calls, and allow the IT team to focus on other priorities (and save those urgent requests for other departments).

For any questions or a personal evaluation of your server rack needs, visit our website, www.techrack.com, or contact TechRack Systems at sales@techrack.com or 888-266-3577.

9 Signs You Might Be a Data Center Manager

cablesimage2Or… Can your pet penguin write his name in Base 16?

by TechRack Systems

Data center managers have the hardest job on the planet. They have to keep data secure and running 24×7 while handling IT mishaps along with a gazillion mind-numbing requests. So here’s some food for thought. We know there are a number of characteristics that super star data center managers have in common.

See if any of these describe you:

You might be a Data Center Manager if…

1. You use an old server as a pizza warmer and a CD drive as a cup holder. Sure, it’s tempting, not to mention creative, yet one drink spill can mean sudden death to your equipment without any way to resuscitate it. Instead, eat and drink elsewhere and enforce a strict no food or drink mantra. (Or, consider keeping your equipment safe in a server rack!)

2. Your CEO responds WOW to your budget request and you think it’s an invite to play World of Warcraft. I know. It doesn’t get much cooler than inviting all your pals to a LAN party. But your CEO is responding to the cost of your request, not the game. While playing WoW, CoD, LoL or even Halo is tempting; it’s not worth jeopardizing your network with a virus or worse.

3. When you hear ‘spaghetti’, you think of your network cables.
Cable chaos? Mangled mayhem? Let’s hope not. Unless you’re aiming to create a pigpen instead of a data center, you’ll want your cables neatly in cabinets. No one wants to see cables hanging from drop ceilings, looped over desks or lining the floor. Senior management frowns on any hazard that could dovetail into an accident, lawsuit or data loss. So measure your cables accordingly, use zip ties and reserve the word spaghetti for Italian fare.

4. People think you’re a vampire because they never see you in daylight.
It’s easy to fit into this workaholic category if you work well over a 40-hour week. Pulling all-nighters to rebuild networks or breathe life into downed networks is part and parcel with your job. But working excessive overtime means you may not have enough coverage if there’s an emergency. Staffing needs to correspond to your risk profile and budget. Consider emergency response, equipment maintenance and vendor management when creating your staffing schedule. And by all means, stay clear of anything that sucks blood.

5. Your favorite animal is a penguin. Lot’s of people love penguins, and movies like Happy Feet and Mr. Popper’s Penguins are great examples of the public’s collective fondness for this tuxedo-clad bird. Yet your affinity for penguins has less to do with the former and more to do with that darn cute logo of Linux. But shhh, we’ll keep your secret to ourselves.

6. Your second favorite animal is Red Bull.
Caffeine. Rules. Period.

7. You can write your name in hex. Admit it. You can write in Base 16 and you can understand Base 2. So even if English is your one and only language you can easily tout that you’re multilingual. 52 6f 63 6b 20 4f 6e 21

8. You think there are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.
I know, old joke, but true! And it shows your commitment to thinking through things with an open mind. Keeping your mind open allows you to come up with creative solutions when you need them most. And don’t we always?

9. You know there’s no place like
Sure, you make the most of your workplace, you enjoy your coworkers and you’re committed to ensuring that nothing EVER goes wrong with your network – at least not for long. But when the day is done, it’s still nice to return to that familiar place you call su casa.

If you are a Data Center Manager looking for a nice (server) rack, visit our website, www.techrack.com, or contact us at sales@techrack.com
or 888-266-3577

The definitive #IT checklist (for purchasing #server #racks)

canstockphoto20027517by TechRack Systems

Ever heard the phrase “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance?” This old expression is as true with server racks as it is with any other important company purchase. No matter what type of rack mount equipment is required for your installation—whether it be for a small business, medium-size office or large data center—the planning stage will be crucial for determining the right configuration requirements. To help guide you through the process, here are eight points to consider when you evaluate your needs and before you order:

#1 Determine the correct space/size for your server rack.
Measuring rack space is not the time (nor place) for guess-timates. Take the time to evaluate all of your IT equipment needs and know the exact dimensions of each component that will be housed in the server rack. Note: the inside dimension (usable space) of the server rack is what you have to work with. While the outside dimension (footprint) of a computer rack is NOT the usable space, it is important in deciding the placement of the rack

#2 Know the server lingo, local codes and infrastructure needs.
Familiarize yourself with the latest terminology of the server rack industry (The Techrack website is a good place to start). Research local codes in your city and state; infrastructure requirements, (such as power, A/C, space, sound, environmental factors); and corresponding load factors and construction of the computer cabinets, (such as static load capacity); whether you will need welded frames (which are stronger than knocked-down frames); and what material to choose (steel versus aluminum).

#3 Do thorough research on vendors.
Of course you’ll want to do business with a company that provides quality products, has competitive and fair pricing and has available products. Perhaps more importantly, verify that your supplier will provide excellent customer service before, during, and after your purchase. Insure your vendor has an extensive knowledge of server equipment and can partner with you to help make the best purchasing decisions for your requirements and budget.

#4 Get the right people involved in purchasing decisions.
It’s not as simple as just getting the purchasing department to place your order. That alone could lead to ordering an incorrect data rack size, leaving out accessories, and not providing all of the needs of the end user. Be sure to have your IT professional review and preferably place the order. Be sure to obtain pre-approval for the space allocation and expenditure for the server rack, even for the small equipment enclosures.

#5 Factor logistics into the delivery.
Consider all details of your product receiving situation: for instance, do you have a dock? Will you need a lift gate truck? Are there call notifications in place? Is the delivery going to a secure location: to a school, construction site or government facility? Is there an accurate phone number for the receiving party on delivery day? Providing the supplier with all relevant information for your company delivery process when you order will ensure smooth equipment delivery.

#6 Know your rack equipment’s specs.
It is critical to be very familiar with product certifications and any other information that could affect which server racks and cabinets should be ordered. These include: country of origin, seismic rating, and UL listing. Otherwise you run the risk of receiving a product that doesn’t meet required specifications. This is most important for government projects, as they usually have specific standards of certification.

#7 Don’t forget about customization.
When putting together your order requirements, also consider the customization options: color(s) you might want, air filtration needs, noise dampening requirements, casters, ventilation fans, cable management, shelving, and any security features that may be critical to include.

#8 Allow processing time for your order.
Once your configuration requirements are final and you have had a conversation with your vendor about the order details, make sure to allow, time to check the your specs, and have the vendor get back to you with a quote for the final landed cost and timeline.

Investing this time and effort during this pre-purchase phase helps you avoid unnecessary pitfalls along the way. For a personal evaluation of your computer server rack needs, visit www.techrack.com or contact: sales@techrack.com / 888-266-3577.

Computer Server Industry Changes: What Do IT Professionals Need to Know?

Hardware and Data Securityby TechRack Systems

“Change happens.” The server industry is no stranger to this fact after experiencing decades of computing growth, new technologies, and evolving company business practices. As these shifts continue to transform the industry, there are four key areas that affect the way servers are purchased and used for data storage today.

High Security Concerns: Hacking and cyber-crimes, such as employee data theft and identity theft, are front and center and a real threat to companies of all sizes and in all industries. It means that there is a need to secure both the physical computing assets and the data itself. To respond to the alarming rise in all types of computing theft, there are numerous physical and tech-driven devices available to keep out intruders, including secured server cabinet racks, USB port locks, cage and data storage room locks, and biometric identification devices. We can anticipate the arrival of more security devices as well, as hackers and thieves continue to plague the industry, particularly around cyber-crimes.

Increased Laws and Mandates: Each year, a growing number of city, state, and federal codes, and ordinances are used to regulate the data privacy of individuals. With the proliferation of computing devices and wireless communications, there is an increased desire to protect citizen’s rights, whether through government-mandated HIPAA requirements for medical records, or to secure data that is used by the financial industry. Every business that deals with regulated data—from small offices to those with large data centers—is responsible for knowing and following these regulations. Breaking these laws can result in fines and other penalties, as well as the possibility of class-action lawsuits when data has been compromised.

Shrinking But Smarter Equipment: There was a time when huge mainframe computers were spread across entire buildings and took up the largest footprint within a company. That has changed significantly. Computing equipment is now much lighter, is more powerful, and can provide increased functionality with much less real estate. With that, there is more peripheral equipment in use these days, such as firewalls, touch panels, and telecom devices. For many businesses, this means using smaller server cabinets and storing them in out-of-the-way areas (under the desk, in corners, on walls etc.) For larger businesses, such as hospitals, computing power is likely decentralized in multiple areas with larger locking racks and the data may still be tied to one or more mainframes. Which leads to our final big change…

Cloud-Based Computing: A lot of companies are now operating in “the cloud.” It is by far, the biggest information and data storage shift, as many businesses are deploying cloud-based applications and software, and are utilizing this for data storage. For small companies, this can help reduce computer equipment; larger ones tend to benefit most, as they can decrease their on-site computing requirements and gain more flexibility, reduce costs, and increase scalability. Cloud computing also offers a good option for disaster recovery planning. Though cloud computing has its benefits, there are still concerns around security and safety that will need to be addressed.

These four changes—increased security needs, additional data privacy regulations, more compact computing equipment, and the rise of cloud-based computing—are continuing to shape the present and future of the computer server industry. Watch this blog for additional updates. For questions about how these trends impact your server rack and computer cabinet requirements, contact sales@techrack.com or our website (http://www.techrack.com).

Top Five Ways To Save Money on Server Racks

spendsaveimage by TechRack Systems

Server racks contain the nuts and bolts of your business—literally!—and thus represent one of the most important purchases for your data center or office. To get the most value for your dollar, here are five ways to conserve cash when you’re evaluating server cabinets.

1. Measure Twice, Buy Once

Before doing anything, all components and computers should be measured to ensure they fit into the usable space of the server rack—not a ballpark estimate. There are important dimensions to consider:

  • The footprint of a server rack (the outside dimensions) is not the same as the usable inside dimensions, which are smaller by 3 to 6 inches.
  • Be sure to select, measure, and calculate all aspects of the proposed placement area for the server rack, and take into account any restrictions, codes, or door swing issues you might have.
  • Always leave at least 1U clearance (1.75″ between components for better airflow and heat dissipation). Never go to the max that you can squeeze into a server rack, it will end up costing you later. Which brings us to our next tip…

2. Shop For Quality, Not Just a Price Tag

As with any purchase, the value is only as good as its reliability. If it has to be repaired or replaced (or there is a lack of ability to do so), the low price was not worth the hassle and cost later. Some of the best cabinets are made in the U.S. with American steel. Look for racks that are made with fully welded frames versus those that are knocked down and assembled on-site. You’ll also want sturdy doors of carbon steel with all welded construction. In the end, spending a little more upfront for quality will save you later.

Here are some guidelines for computer cabinet specs to keep in mind:

  • With vertical mounting rails—12-gauge cold-rolled steel or heavier, with holes that
    meet EIA spacing
  • For 48” tall to 84” tall computer racks —carbon steel frames of at least 12 gauge
  • For full height cabinets—a static load rating of at least 2,000 lbs.
  • Small server racks between 6U and 18U—with fully welded sides, top, and bottom

3. Plan For Changes in the Future

A very small rack or a wall rack may be enough to hold all of your components for now, but what if your business grows this year? Or you hire more employees? What if you move to a different location with a new configuration? Any number of factors can affect data center and small office plans.

If you don’t consider the possibility of expansion (or moving), you might end up spending more money for future additions or replacements, not to mention potential freight and installation costs. But if you opt to buy a taller or deeper server rack from the beginning, it’s only slightly more costly than a smaller unit, which can save you money and more planning down the road.

4. Choose Full-featured Cabinets for Adaptability

Future considerations (and savings) don’t stop with size alone: Start factoring in all the “moving parts” now. To maximize floor space, consider cabinets with flush mounted side panels and doors, both top and bottom. Look for 24” wide cabinets, as they will likely match the widths of the floor tiles in the computer rooms where you plan to install them. If you have multiple components bayed together, consider cabinets that are joined by a top mount frame coupler with pre-drilled holes in the cabinet frames—this will avoid fix-it projects down the line (note: be sure that cage nuts or rack screws are included with your purchase).

Next priority is ventilation: Our top picks are cabinets with open bases to allow for a raised floor ventilation option. And check availability of solid or vented side panels, as well as optional split rear doors. To keep maintenance simple, look for field-reversible front and rear doors that don’t require tools to change the door swing.

Other potential elements that can save you down the line:

  • Capability to add up to 4 fans in the cabinet top
  • Cabinets that are seismic zone 4 rated and that are UL Listed
  • Cabinets with both seismic tie-downs and caster mount features as well as 4-point

5. Don’t Forget Safe and Secure

None of the above factors matters if your cabinets are not secure and your data is lost or equipment is stolen. Take stock of your server cabinets with the following checklist:

  • Do your cabinets have lockable front and rear doors?
  • Are your side panels secured from the inside of the cabinet? Or do they have available locking, quick-release side panels?
  • Will your cabinet doors accommodate electronic, proximity, or combination locks?

Security is not something you want to scrimp on. The money you spend now far outweighs the issues you could have later.

For a personal evaluation of your computer server needs, contact sales@techrack.com, or visit our Website, www.techrack.com.