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Data Center Server Rack Wiki: Definition, Types and Buying Guide

August 31, 2016

With the increasing need for computing power and space in data centers, server rack is often used to achieve high density. The proper use of data center server racks can facilitate a consolidation of different network equipment in an organized, safe and efficient manner. There are many types of data center server racks to choose from, but which one is the most suitable for you?

Data Center Server Rack

What Is A Server Rack in Data Center?

The server rack is a framework used for accommodating data center IT equipments such as servers, storage, HUB and network switches. It is designed to improve efficiency of data center network management and operation.

Data Center Server Rack Types

Open Server Rack

Data center open server rack consists of mounting rails without sides or doors - an open-air structure for mounting network equipment. They’re typically used for server room that don’t require physical security and don’t need added airflow control. An open frame rack cabinet provides easy access and offers plenty of open space for cable management, making this solution ideal for network wiring closets and distribution frame applications with high-density cabling. There are two basic types of server racks: 2-post and 4-post rack. 2-post racks generally require less depth but support less weight than 4-post racks.

Pros Cons
  • - Price: Open frame rack is cheaper than the similar-sized enclosed rack.
  • - Air Flow: Data center open server rack allows airflow in all directions, which can help to improve the cooling of the equipment.
  • - Easy Access: In the event that one of the equipment breaks, access to the control panel is easily accessible.
  • - Lack of Security: Anyone can walk up to the racks and unplug the cables, or anything else they desire.
  • - Dust: The equipment mounted on a data center open  server rack is much more susceptible to dust and other debris, which can cause problems over time.
2-post & 4-post open frame rack

Data Center Server Cabinet

Server Cabinet has front / rear doors, side panels and four adjustable vertical mounting rails (posts). It generally refers to “enclosed rack”. Since the doors and side panels can be locked, enclosed racks provide physical equipment security at the rack level. Despite the benefits of network cabinets, they also pose some challenges - particularly in the area of cooling. A data center server rack cabinet, obviously, has much less access to outside air. So it will require some kind of venting for air cooling.

Pros Cons
  • - Protection: Enclosed rack cabinet can be locked to provide added protection from unauthorized people accessing the equipment.
  • - Hiding Cables: The enclosed rack can hide cabling away more effectively, which gives a better appearance and can also help to reduce the risk of cables getting damaged.
  • - Cost: Compared to open frame rack, cabinet is significantly more expensive.
  • - Accessibility: When it comes to installing or working on equipment in an enclosed rack, there is less room to get the work done.
Cabinet Enclosed Rack

Wall Mount Rack

Wall mount rack is designed to be attached to the wall, in order to save floor space and fit in areas where other racks can’t. It is generally in open frame or cabinet style, and mainly used for housing network equipment like fiber patch panels and switches. But it also has some cons: it is smaller than other rack cabinets, so can’t support much weight and does not offer the same amount of security that a full enclosed data center server rack could offer. If you run a small/home-based offices or larger offices that are looking to add an additional rack to an existing system, wall mount racks are an affordable option.

Wall Mount Rack

Considerations When Buying Data Center Server Rack


A properly chosen data center server rack should fit the dimensions of the equipment. Although 19-inch racks are always the same nominal width, the height and depth vary. A commonly used measure of the height of a rack is the so-called rack unit (U), which is defined as 1.75 inches. The width and depth of the rack is typically measured in standard units. The most popular standard data center racks have a width of 19 inches and a height of 42U (73.5 inches high).

Flexibility & Manageability

For a flexible and ease-to-manage cabling environment, enough usable space should be left in the rack cabinet after the devices being installed. In addition, some data center server racks even have wheels in case the racks should be moved.

Enough Weight Capacity

With more and more devices are added to the data center, the network racks should have enough weight capacity. The number of switches, cables, PDU and overhead cable mounts should all be considered during the selection of a rack. Selecting a strong rack is necessary.

Cooling Efficiency

The cooling cost of data center is keeping increasing nowadays. Proper data center server racks contribute to the cooling efficiency. Racks with airflow management accessories could be a good choice. Some other accessories like the door of the racks can also affect the cooling efficiency. Most of the rack door provide at least 64 percent perforation for proper air flow.

air flow of data center server rack


Some devices in data centers might need security protection. Thus, doors, side panels and roof can be installed on the data center server racks. The designs of these accessories also come in various types according to applications.

What Kind of Accessories Can Install in a Data Center Server Rack?

Data center server rack can hold all standard 19-inch rack-mountable equipment, as long as it isn’t too deep for the rack cabinet or too high to fit in the available rack spaces. The equipment often includes removable mounting brackets that fasten to the vertical rack rails with screws. Heavier equipment may also include horizontal rails or rack shelves that mount in the rack to provide extra support. Other rack accessories that support the operation of the production equipment includes UPS systems, PDUs, cable managers, switches, patch panels and fiber enclosures. For more information about high density patching solution, please refer to Efficient Cable Management: How to Make It Right?

Accessories Installed in a data center Server Rack


When you’re designing a data center, deciding which server rack to deploy should be at the top of your list. No matter what rack solution you choose, it is important that you maintain network security and proper cable management to create an organized system. FS.COM offers all of the data center server rack solutions mentioned above, which can help you maximize the work efficiency and minimize the downtime risks of networks. For more details, please contact us via

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