• Rack Selection Guide: 9 Key Points When Selecting Data Center Racks

Rack Selection Guide: 9 Key Points When Selecting Data Center Racks

2017-01-11T09:45:08-08:00 November 22, 2016|Moves & Migrations, Racks & Hardware|

Choosing the wrong rack/cabinet for your data center or engineering lab can be costly.

What we have seen go wrong:

  • Choosing open frames while trying to have a containment strategy
  • Deploying 2-post and open-frame 4-post racks without having an airflow strategy
  • Not having proper cut outs on the top panel or side panels for cables to pass through
  • Not considering cable management needs
  • Not considering cabinet power strip mounting requirements
  • Delivery challenges that impact project schedule

Below are the some of the questions and details we pay attention to when we collaborate with our customer on their rack requirements.

 1) Dimensions


Height: 42U, 45U, 48U, 52U or 62U? Customers are increasing the density of racks pushing the limit on U space. While more U space is great, other considerations need to be addressed such as transport, ceiling height, and operational challenges

Width: 24″ wide has been the standard, but with the increased cabling and presence of power strips, wider racks have been gaining in popularity: 28″, 29.5”, 30″, 32″ wide.

Depth: Is 42″ deep sufficient or 48″ deep needed? The deeper rack will allow for more clearance to the rails when cabinet power strip are installed and provide for more cable management options.

2) Construction and Weight Capacity

Rack Blog Diagram

  • What is the weight capacity of the rack? Is there a difference on static and dynamic loads? Will the rack be transported while fully populated?
  • How is the rack built?
  • Is it aluminum or steel?
  • Is it a welded frame?
  • Is it seismic rated?

3) Power Strip Mounting Options

Rack Mount Brackets

The ability to easily mount a vertical power strip is one detail that is often overlooked, causing power strips to block rails, strips to be mounted with velcro straps or having to reinvent a mounting bracket.

  • Is there space to mount vertical power strips?
  • Does the rack come with recessed button mount panels?
  • Does the rack offer different mounting bracket options?
  • Can you mount 2 vertical strips side by side?

4) What are the Cable Management Options Available?

  • Does it come with fingers already installed? Are the fingers metal or plastic?
  • Does it come with various different cable management options so there is flexibility in cable management?
  • Are there openings in the roof and floor to feed cables?
  • Are the openings large enough for 50 Amps or 60 Amps power plugs to run through it?
  • Are there brush openings to minimize airflow issues?

Rack Mounts

5) Security concerns

  • What type of locks are available for the rack? Can you easily change them to a different locking mechanism?
  • Can you have your badge access tied to the lock? Biometric?
  • Do you want a picture taken whenever the rack is opened?

Rack Surveillance

6) Other Physical Considerations

Side Door Panel

  • What type of side panels are available? Split with locking mechanisms? Can side panels be easily ordered?
  • How easy is it to remove side panels, front and rear doors, and put them back on?
  • How is the grounding done?
  • How are two racks bayed together? Is it at the front or top of the rack?
  • Are the rails easily adjustable? Can they be pre-configured to a specified position at the factory?
  • 10/32 round, threaded, unthreaded, or square holes?
  • Casters and/or leveling feet?

7) Color of the rack

Research has shown that white racks can help reduce energy costs! We have seen large deployments require white cabinets. We have also seen requests for custom colors to match corporate colors. Some manufacturers are more flexible than others on color customization.

Red Rack

8) Shipping considerations

2 posts and 4 posts racks are generally shipped flat and require assembly.

Cabinets are usually shipped assembled attached to a pallet.

Is your chosen provider or manufacturer going to take ownership of the logistics and delivery process of the racks?

Unloading 500 racks along with packaging materials, disposing of trash and locating it on the data center floor takes a considerable amount of time and effort. Make sure it’s clear which party is doing that (Low voltage contractor, the rack provider, the rack manufacturer).

Rack Unload

 9) Lead time and availability

  • Are the racks normally readily available?
  • What is the standard lead time for delivery?
  • Some rack manufacturers have the racks available ready to ship while some only have certain part numbers that are readily available.
  • Other manufacturers have lead time ranging from 5 days to 5 weeks.

There is a lot to think about when choosing the right rack and provider for your data center. If you have any questions, please connect with us at solutions@mirapath.com or (877) 647-2728.