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How to buy the right server cabinet

For years Buying Server Racks and Server cabinets has been shrouded by myth and mystery by manufactures in order to keep their prices high. Thanks to Comms Express, this is now a thing of the past, we have worked with all our server cabinet suppliers to ensure we can supply you with simple, easy to use advice along with a next day delivery service (where available), so you can have the equipment when you need it.

Please use this article as a guide to buying your Server Racks.

Choosing the Height of you Server Cabinet

Typically the height of server racks and data cabinets are measured in 'u' sizes. 'u' is a standard measurement for all rackmount equipment, one rack 'u' is 44.45mm high. Typically a 24 port patch panel or switch will be 1u in size.

You should work out the equipment you want to use inside your server rack. if you want to put in equipment that isn't rackmountable, you should include the size of this and divide the height be 44.45 to give you an approximate size in 'u', this equipment will need to be positioned on a shelf which will take an additional 1u of space.

Once you've sized the equipment you want in your server rack, we advise that you give yourself at least 10% additional room for expansion as migrating from one server cabinet to another in the future will cause you many headaches and cost a lot of money in man hours.

'u' only refers to the internal space of the server cabinet, you should also make sure the cabinet fits your office space requirements. For example a 42u server cabinet will give you 1867mm of internal space, however the cabinet will be much larger externally to make room for cable entry, fan trays and of course jacking feet or castors, this will usually take between 250-300mm of extra height, so for a 42u cabinet you should ensure you have a minimum working height of 2120mm where you are going to locate your rack.

Determining the Width of your Server Cabinet

Server racks are usually supplied in 600mm wide and 800mm wide configurations. Regardless of which configuration you choose, the server cabinet will contain standard 19" mounting angles for rackmount equipment.

The main difference between a 600mm wide and 800mm wide server rack is room for cable management. If you are using your server cabinet for patching as well, we would recommend you opt for an 800mm wide rack as this will have a lot more space for cable management.

Again, please ensure that you have the necessary space requirements where you intend position the server rack.

Server Cabinet Depth

Depth of server cabinets and server racks has become more and more important, as server manufacturers are making their servers shorter in height (typically rackmount servers each take up only 1u or 2u of space), but are making them a lot deeper. Our range of server cabinets are supplied in 900mm or 1000mm external depths. As a rule, the maximum internal working space is less than this, typically between 100-150mm less, meaning if your server is 800mm deep. you will need a 1000mm deep server rack to house the equipment.

All cabinets supplied by Comms Express have 19" mounting profiles situated at the front and rear inside the cabinet. These mounting angles are adjustable so you position then nearer together or further apart (upto a maximum of 150mm less than the overall external cabinet depth) depending on the equipment to go inside.

Ventilation of Server Rack

As with all computer equipment, servers need to be well ventilated to ensure they function correctly. Failure to ensure this, may cause them to malfunction or stop working all together. All server cabinets supplied by Comms Express have vents in the roof (which can be used with a roof mount fan unit to expel air from the cabinet), and full mesh rear door. We give options for the front door to be either Mesh or Glass with vented surround. As servers are typically designed on an airflow that will pull the air through the front and expel it through the rear of the server, we would recommend you choose the full mesh door option, however for aesthetics you may want to opt for a glass door with vented surround. If you are installing a number of servers in your cabinet, we would recommend you choose an optional fan unit as well as a monitoring kit to ensure the server cabinet doesn't overheat.

You should also ensure the room where the cabinet is positioned is cool and ventilated.

Accessories for your Server Cabinet

All of our server cabinets are shipped with an impressive feature set, however we also sell a complete range of accessories to meet every customers unique requirements. These accessories include:Power Distribution Units (PDU's) - We hold stock of a huge range of rackmountable PDU's, from 4 - 12 Way, with a range of socket and input options. We also hold stock of PDU's with surge protection and built in ammeters.

Shelving - If the equipment you're putting inside your server rack isn't rackmountable, you will need to shelving to position it on. We offer three different types of shelving, these are:

- Modem Shelves - These shelves mount on the front 19" mounting angles and provide a light duty solution for holding small pieces of equipment.Fixed Shelving

- Fixed shelves will mount on the front and rear of the server cabinet offering a more heavy duty solution for accommodating equipment in your rack.

- Telescopic Shelves - These are mounted front and rear and provide a good solution for equipment you need to access easily.

Fan Units and Trays - Standard fans for server cabinets are available in two guises as follows:

- Roof Mount Fan Units - These fans mount in the server cabinets upper aperture taking no working space from the cabinet itself. They are used to expel air from the cabinet to help keep it cool

- Rack Mount Fan Units - These units mount on the 19" mounting profiles and are used to move the air around the cabinet in the direction required.

Plinths - Plinths are designed to help organise cables going into the rack. For server cabinets, they also have a stabilising plate or arm to increase stability and prevent the server rack toppling over if heavy servers are pulled in and out of the cabinet.

Cable Management - Keeping your server rack tidy is important, that is why we offer a number of cable management options as follows:

- Horizontal Cable Tidy Bars - These mount on the 19" mounting profiles inside your server cabinet, to help you route cables efficiently and tidily when using patch panels and switches.

- Jumper Rings - These typically mount vertically in 800mm wide cabinets to help route cables within the server rack.

- Brush Strip Panels - These mount horizontally on the 19" mounting profiles and are used to route cables around the cabinet out of site.

- Blanking Panels - if you have any unused space in you server rack, you can use blanking panels to hide unsightly cables or equipment you don't want people to see. These are particularly useful if you are locating your server cabinet within your office space.

- Cable Trays - These are used on the side of the the server cabinet (usually inside around the middle or rear) to help you route cables neatly vertically inside the cabinet

Console Drawers - If space in your sever cabinet is getting tight, you may find a console drawer a good alternative to using a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse. These 1u units are available with a variety of monitor sizes, mouse options and input types and neatly fold away when they aren't being used.

Other Accessories - We also stock a range of accessories as follows:

- Standard Duty Casters - Server cabinets we supply are only supplied with transit casters, which should only be used for shipping the cabinet and for ease of use positioning the cabinet. They should not be used when the server cabinet is populated with equipment as they are not load rated. If you wish to keep your server rack mobile, you should use our standard duty casters.

- Cabinet Jacking Feet - If you are positioning your cabinet on an uneven floor, these will be a invaluable accessory as they are adjustable up or down to keep the server rack level.

- Cage Nuts and Bolts - Virtually all rackmount equipment is mounted on the 19" mounting profiles using M6 cage nuts and bolts. A pack of these is essential for every cabinet.

E&OE, this document is given as a guide only, there maybe many other factors you need to consider when purchasing a server rack. If you have any questions, please contact our sales team.

Disclaimer - We have provided this article as general advice to our customers. We make no claims about the completeness or the accuracy of the information as it may apply to an infinite amount of field conditions. It is the responsibility of the person or persons using this information to check with all concerned parties, owners and local authorities, etc. before doing an installation. Users of this information agree to hold Comms Express Ltd. harmless from liabilities of any kind relating to the use of this information.