There are a number of reasons why data center densities are increasing. Business demands on IT are growing, and IT loads are less predictable. Data center managers are adding capacity to stay ahead of the curve. At the same time, data center real estate is in short supply, forcing organizations to make the most of their existing footprint. They also recognize that data center density drives power efficiency by reducing the overhead of the facility even as the power per rack increases.
But as densities increase, so does the complexity of the data center ecosystem. You need a well-designed, cohesive infrastructure that enables efficient management and flexibility. The racks and cabinets that form the foundation of the “white space” infrastructure should serve as the starting point for any high-density data center strategy.
With more equipment per cabinet, the load rating of the unit becomes critical. Cabinets that are attached to the data center structure should have a static load rating of at least 3,000 pounds. The rolling load rating tells you how much weight the cabinet can support as it’s rolled from place to place within the facility. If equipment is deployed at the cabinet level — that is, “racked and stacked” by a systems integrator and shipped to your site — you need to look at the shipping load ratings. All load ratings should be tested and verified by a reputable third-party lab.
The footprint of the cabinet is another important consideration. Even though you’re trying to maximize your data center space, cabinets need to be wider and deeper than the equipment they house so that there’s plenty of room for power distribution units (PDUs), cable management and other accessories, plus additional space for airflow.
Server cabinets should have mounting brackets for PDUs on one side, and cable management facilities on the other. Cabinets for networking equipment need lashing brackets on the front and rear to support patch cords and other cables, as well as internal cable management.
The right racks and cabinets should provide cooling and airflow management to ensure the optimal environment for equipment while keeping power consumption in check. With higher heat loads, higher levels of cabinet door perforation are needed to maximize airflow. The cabinets should be compatible with the hot- or cold-aisle containment system and provide for blanking panels and baffles to ensure that air flows properly around equipment. You should also consider rack-based cooling, which creates a fully contained system with the shortest possible airflow path to the equipment.
Cabinet-level access controls supplement data center security measures. Locking doors provide basic protection, but networked electronic access controls offer a number of benefits. In addition to preventing unauthorized access, these systems provide an audit trail of all access attempts for regulatory compliance and incident response. A networked system should enable monitoring and management of all cabinet-level access from one web interface.
Finally, look for a solution provider who can supply all of your rack and cabinet needs. Single-sourcing simplifies provisioning, accelerates deployment and ensures that all components of the data center infrastructure are fully compatible. A solution provider who specializes in data center infrastructure can provide customized solutions as well as consulting, design and implementation services.
Rahi Systems has a long track record of success in the design and buildout of highly efficient, high-density data centers. Let us help ensure that your racks and cabinets support an optimized, easy-to-manage facility.