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It's no secret that technology can get complicated. 

This is especially true if your company has a robust data center, responsible for keeping the rest of your workforce up and running at top capacity.

Organizing all of the server hardware can get cumbersome without a dedicated system in place that allows each component to be installed, used and maintained with ease.

This is where server racks and enclosures come in. Not sure how this gear works? That's why we're here!

Read on to learn how this equipment operates and why it's vital to your organization.

Understanding Server Equipment

Unless you're an IT professional, it's easy to confuse the different kinds of server equipment. At the highest level, all of this equipment serves the same purpose: to help your data center become organized, efficient and space-smart.

A few of the different kinds of gear that fall into this category include:

  • Server racks
  • Server cabinets
  • Shelves
  • Drawers
  • Cages
  • Suites

Let's review how each of these works in greater detail.

What are Server Racks?

A server rack is an open, exposed frame that houses servers and IT equipment. It holds these items in place through mounted electronic equipment modules specially-built for that purpose. While the size of an average server rack will differ a little with each manufacturer, most are designed to be 19 inches wide by 36 inches deep. 

To measure the height of each server rack, manufacturers will use what's known as a "rack unit."

Often called a "U", one standard rack unit is 1.75 inches high, representing one measurement of rack space or cabinet space. Individual server racks are designed to accommodate a set number of units. For instance, you'll find some that offer 1U of space and others that offer 2U, 3U, 4U and up. A full-sized rack normally holds around 42U.

What is a Server Rack Shelf?

A server rack can't serve its intended purpose without adequate server rack shelves. Mounting into the frame of the rack, companies use these to organize their servers, as well as other network and IT components. 

Some shelves are secured on two posts while others rest on four posts. You can also find them in many different designs, including:

  • Fixed shelves
  • Vented shelves 
  • Sliding shelves
  • Solid shelves

The IT environment, business needs, and operational capacity can help determine the exact kind of rack shelves required.

Rack Drawers

Like server rack shelves, rack drawers also mount into a server rack. The main difference is that these server enclosures are covered with panels all the way around, rather than sitting in the rack exposed as shelves do.

Within these boxes, IT managers can store loose electronic equipment, as well as maintenance tools, important files, and other accessories.

The one type of gear they aren't created to support? Servers and other forms of connected IT equipment. These are best-suited for shelves, where their signal can reach top capacity and there's less risk of over-heating. Depending on the level of security required in your IT department, these drawers come in locking and non-locking models. 

What are Server Cabinets?

Similar to server racks, server cabinets are designed to hold electronic equipment modules. The biggest differentiator between the two types of gear? A server cabinet is enclosed all the way around, wherein a server rack is exposed without any sidewalls.

Like a rack, full-sized network cabinets measures 42U. Likewise, both servers and racks are considered half-sized if they hold between 20U and 24U.

Benefits of Server Racks and Cabinets

There are myriad reasons why it's smart to install server network racks or server cabinets at your organization. While you could technically align all of your servers on a table and they'd still be operational, your benefits improve exponentially when you organize and arrange them in this format. 

Three of the top improvements you'll notice include:

Better Performance

Racks and cabinets provide proper airflow around your servers. If there are any obstructions that block this flow, the equipment could overheat. You can even find racks with integrated cooling systems to improve the airflow even more.

Stronger Security

Many server racks come with locking panels that are designed to allow access to authorized users only. This means your sensitive, mission-critical IT equipment is always kept secure and protected. 

Simplified Maintenance

Rather than servicing all of your IT equipment in various stages, traveling around the office to each location, a server rack or cabinet consolidates this gear into one spot. This makes it easier and quicker to access and maintain your server equipment. Ones that include wheels or sliding shelves are even more accessible.

What is a Data Center Cage?

Does your organization require multiple data center racks or cabinets? If so, you'll need a way to contain, protect and secure this equipment investment. A data center cage is designed to do just that. It's a metal enclosure built to accommodate multiple forms of data center equipment, including racks and cabinets.

To keep systems as cool as possible, these cages feature a metal mesh on the walls, along with metal bars. While researching these systems, you'll find that there are two main kinds of data center cages: shared and private.

If you opt for a private cage, all of the equipment stored therein will be strictly used for your company's IT needs. On the other hand, a shared cage is on that's built to accommodate the IT requirements of multiple companies.

Keep Your Server Equipment Organized and Secure

You've already invested in top-of-the-line server equipment to serve your organization's advanced IT needs. Now, it's time to find a storage and organization solution that will keep this gear cool, safe and running at peak capacity.

Server racks, cabinets, drawers, shelves, and other similar enclosures all help to meet this need. Take the time to research your unique business requirements to help determine the size and scale of the solution you require.

Then, when you're ready to learn more about how this equipment works, feel free to check out our wide inventory of server racks and enclosures. If you have any questions, contact us for assistance!

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