Securing and organizing server and network equipment is a must for IT departments and industrial companies of all sizes. Finding the perfect enclosure can be a daunting task. Being dust-free is just one applicable factor. Dirty or wet environments can quickly destroy electronic equipment. Before purchasing rack enclosures for a factory or plant use, a company should ponder a few practical questions.
Rack Enclosure Questions to Ask:
How much equipment will be installed?
Rack enclosures are available in various dimensions. The amount of equipment needed will help determine if one or multiple enclosures are needed; a company could also consider bolting multiple enclosures together for added convenience. It is also essential to examine the rack mounting requirements for the servers/electronics that will be used. The amount of available “U” should be researched. According to Penn Elcom Online, “A rack unit (abbreviated as U) is a unit of measurement applied to equipment racks and the servers, disk drives and other devices that they contain. One U is 1.75 inches; the standard rack, at 19 inches, is 42U.”
How does the equipment need to be organized?
If the equipment can sit on a shelf and work properly (like a tower computer or monitor), then it will not need to be bolted to the rack on the inside of the rack enclosure. However, some equipment cannot be installed without attaching to the rack (i.e. servers, switches, and network equipment). It is essential to determine how the equipment will be used and also the readily accessibility of the equipment.
Should the enclosure be free-standing or wall mounted?
Free-standing rack enclosures, with castors, can be moved around the floor if needed. Some enclosures offer the option of having both castors and legs which can be interchanged for differing applications. Many companies prefer the flexibility of being able to move the rack enclosure to different parts of the building. In this instance, lockable castors are the best solution. Yet another option are wall mounted rack enclosures, which are ideal for saving space and keeping the enclosures off the ground and far away from dust and dirt.
What type of cable management is required?
Horizontal and vertical cable management is available to organize the cabling inside of the enclosure. The amount of equipment will determine how much cabling is needed for everything to run smoothly. Rack mountable power strips can be installed to keep the amount of cables – exiting the enclosure – at a minimum. Gasketed split panels may be available on the top, bottom or back; allowing cables to easily enter and exit the enclosure.
Various accessories can be added to make the enclosure the most effective resource for the end user. Accessories such as solid doors or doors with glass inserts, cooling fans, air conditioners, vortex cooling units, heat exchangers, heaters, keyboard drawers, power strips, tapped or square punched rails, shelving, and filler panels can be added to the rack enclosure to create the most beneficial solution.
If installing shelves, should they be fixed or sliding?
Sliding shelves are ideal for accessing equipment for routine maintenance or to change printer media/labels/ink. If the electronics will not be accessed regularly, a simple fixed shelf may be adequate.
What color is needed?
This step is simple. The rack enclosure might come in standard colors like black, blue, gray, or putty. However, if a company desires their enclosure(s) to match a branded color, ask the enclosure provider if it can be powder-coated to match a brand’s specific RAL color.
In addition, many companies require the rack enclosures to be lockable, so that only a select few employees or managers have access to the equipment. Security should always be top of mind, especially if the servers or network equipment contain critical information.
In the end, configuration flexibility is a key point to consider when searching for a new rack enclosure. The rack enclosure will probably outlast most of the equipment that is installed inside of it. As technology changes, the right rack enclosure will still stand strong for years to come!