What are racks?

A rack is a structure, usually made out of metal and cabinet or wall-shaped, which allows to store and organize the different components of computer installations, such as servers, storage systems, switches, etc.

Is that it? Are you disappointed? Well, hold on, although they don’t seem like much, the world of racks can actually be quite tricky. Not only are they very necessary if you want to store a computer installation, but they usually fulfill relevant technical functions when it comes to helping the components they house work properly.

What are racks for? They store your installation, so, indeed, a rack is not just any closet. Before acquiring one, take into account certain things, or you might regret it. So, how about seeing some of the most important ones?

Some things to consider before buying a rack

-Where will it be located?

Now that you know the answer to “what are racks?”, you may wonder why it is important where to place them. Well, it is not the same to place it in a space specifically enabled for that purpose (a room for IT) or in just any place (an office or a corridor, for example). You should think about different models depending on the place where you will place your beloved rack. For example, if you are going to place it near a work area, perhaps you should look at racks that guarantee low noise level (some computer components can be noisy when they are in use). However, if you have large IT rooms, other factors, such as size, may be more important for you.

-How many components will it house? What type and size?

It is a matter where you have to use your best skills for calculation and foresight.

If you only have a limited number of components and you don’t think you will need more, you may not need a very large rack. However, if you have a pretty good number of components or you foresee you might need a larger installation, maybe you should consider buying a larger rack, in order not to fall short.

In a similar fashion, the expected type of components that you will need to store is equally important, in order to buy a rack with the appropriate measures.

So the issue of measures is one of the most relevant ones. The measures can be key when determining if you are making a meaningful purchase or if the rack will not serve its purpose when you need it. To such an extent rack measurements are important, that there is an EIA standard that sets the “Rack Units” or “U” and that establishes the measures in which the size of each rack is accounted for.

Without going too deep into it, remember that racks usually have two formats:

  • On the one hand, there are cabinets, which tend to be larger.
  • On the other hand, there are murals, which are usually smaller and are often placed on the floor or anchored to the walls.

Taking into account all this and the size of the hardware you will use, remember that the components must not only fit in the rack, but there must be enough space to install the necessary wiring without twisting or bending it too much. Also remember that there should be enough space in the structure to allow proper ventilation and cooling, in order to avoid possible “hot spots” that could damage the installation. This is one of the key points to consider when choosing a rack, so do not forget it!

-How much flexibility will you need?

Some types of rack offer more flexibility than others, so this should also be something to keep in mind. Will you need to include new equipment? Some racks allow it more easily, through more custom options to add new shelves or allowing additional cooling required by the added components.

Also, keep in mind that many manufacturers usually offer customization possibilities, so don’t forget to ask about the options they may be able to offer you.

-Make sure the rack complies with current regulations.

It will be very important to ensure that the rack meets the legally established technical standards, both for safety and performance purposes and to ensure that it allows you to install components from the most common manufacturers. Regulations are usually quite comprehensive in this regard, so make sure you are buying a quality product. Remember that some issues, such as correct cooling or stability, will be very important when it comes to ensuring the safety and proper operation of the installation, so do not overlook such important details.

-Pay close attention to safety and additional components.

This should always be pointed out. Of course, the rack must have a structure that keeps it safe from falls or accidents. Also remember that many racks usually have doors with locks, which makes them safer. In addition, factors such as lack of space or poor structure configuration can do a lot of damage to your installation, so make sure the rack allows proper cooling, for example, through installation and active cooling element efficiency, such as fans. Also, remember that there are certain components, such as power distribution units (PDUs), that you may want to use, so do not forget to check that the rack you are buying supports their use.

And that was our brief summary, so you got to find out “what are racks?” and some things you should keep in mind before buying one. You thought it was going to be as simple as choosing a closet to store your clothes, huh? Well, you’ve seen it is not.

Have we left something out? Sure. That’s why we would be very grateful if you could leave a comment telling us what factors you consider the most important when buying a rack. You can do it very easily through the comment box that you will find right at the end of this article.

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