Keep Your Eye on These Server Trends in 2014

Server Rack Trends 2014

by TechRack Systems

Each year brings new designs, innovations, and trends to the server industry and 2014 is no exception. As server equipment becomes more optimized and energy-efficient, the supporting server racks must be more versatile than ever before. That means the purchasing consideration process becomes more complex when evaluating your future data center and small office computer rack needs.

Here are four key words to guide you in your purchasing decisions: Disruption, Density, Integration, and Cloud. Let’s explore further…

1. Disruption: We’ve all heard of “disruptive innovation” when it comes to new technologies—they bring sudden changes in technology that force businesses to adapt or risk losing revenue or even their company altogether. With that, companies often fall into three categories: a preference to be risk-averse and stick to the mainstream; a tendency to take moderate risks to enhance their business; or the willingness to take big risks with the eye on the prize of bigger goals, expansion, and revenue. Which path you decide to take will depend on your company’s size, financial situation, and future plans. These characteristics also drive how well your data center will likely react to the change.

2. Density: As technologies advance, it’s becoming the norm to consolidate more servers and related computing equipment onto the same chassis. That’s good news for budgeting a server approach—it means you can fit more equipment onto the same racks and cabinets, and will likely save both money and space. And for small businesses, this means utilizing an approach that will maximize space and will keep server equipment in a contained area and organized efficiently. Examples of this are small 6U-18U computer racks and wall racks.

3. Integration: A server rack can have all the promise of improved efficiency and performance, but it won’t be very effective if it doesn’t integrate seamlessly into your current equipment and component setup. In other words, be sure that any integration plans for the future are complimentary to your existing server configuration. The fact that new technologies are available is not reason enough for the investment. Timing plays a factor in integration too—you may want to wait until existing technologies are in sync with your business goals like expansion, reallocating office space, or even a move to a new location.

4. Cloud: This could be the biggest game changer of the bunch. Big data is only getting “bigger” in nearly every industry, and the number of data centers specializing in cloud server and storage needs is increasing by leaps and bounds each year. In fact, a number of vendors are anticipating building servers that are designed specifically for cloud computing use. If you don’t have a plan in place to integrate cloud computing into your business model, now is the time to figure out if a strategy is needed for the future and how that will impact your purchasing decisions.

These four trends in technology—disruption, density requirements, system integration, and cloud requirements—will be important levers in your server rack buying strategies in 2014. Work with your server vendor to create the best plan to meet your data center or small office requirements. For more information, contact TechRack Systems, info@techrack.com, or view our Website.

Data Storage and Data Privacy Rules, What Do I Need to Know?

Computer Data Security

Know the Laws for Data Privacy Before Buying Server Racks

by TechRack Systems

Did you know that there are many privacy rules that impact the way that you can store your data? This is important when evaluating options for large server racks and even small computer cabinet purchases. Many large organizations have an IT infrastructure and measures in place to safeguard these privacy rules. However, smaller businesses and offices often don’t have an IT department, so they may not be aware of these security requirements. Whether it’s government-mandated HIPAA laws that protect medical information, laws that oversee the financial industry, or government regulations that affect military contractors, knowing the rules will not only safeguard data, it will shield you from violating any applicable laws.

As a starting point, across the board for both online and off-line businesses, installations that are subject to confidential data requirements must keep their server racks and cabinets in either a locked room with limited access or in an enclosed space, or under lock and key in an open area. For both situations, only authorized personnel should be able to access this private data. Though it may seem “overly protective” in a one-person office, these laws mandate this regardless of the size of a business (and imagine if someone broke in and stole the computers).

So What Information Needs to Be Protected?

  • Medical: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, protects individually identifiable health information from being released against a patient’s will. This means personal medical data needs to be secured at all times, whether in an individual doctor’s office or a large hospital complex.
  • Military Contractors: Just as the U.S. government has strict regulations on handling sensitive data and classified material, military contractors are subjected to the same stringent requirements as an extension of the government. From office equipment logs to personnel records to matters of national security, the data must be in a physically secure storage area. (On a similar note, delivering server racks to both military installations and their government contractors can mean cutting through more red tape than deliveries to traditional, commercial locations. See more here from TechRack’s previous post.)
  • Financial Records: Banking regulations, acts of congress, and FTC consumer protections require that financial information be stored securely. These laws apply to any company hosting personal financial information: banks, brokerage companies, retirement planners, insurance companies, and those that provide credit scores, to name a few. Data protection has come under more scrutiny in recent years given the increased frequency of data breaches coupled with the rise of hackers. It also underscores the importance of starting off with a strong foundation to secure the physical data.

In addition to these rules and regulations, follow these common sense, practical guidelines when hosting confidential information in data servers and cabinets:

  • Store private data in work areas that are protected against damage from physical hazards, including fires, floods, and earthquakes
  • Ensure that your computer inventory levels are carefully monitored on a regular basis (and that backup measures are in place should a disaster occur)
  • Authorize the minimal number of employee access to restricted, secure storage areas
  • Make sure that you use USB Port Locks
  • Consider Security Wire Racks

To find out more about secure data storage options, check out our locking server and cabinet selection.

Four Reasons for 4-Post Racks

4 post server rack       4-Post Server Racks 

by TechRack Systems

In TechRack’s last post we gave the 411 on 2-post racks, their features and customization options. This time, we’re all about 4-post racks: A steady workhorse, 4-post racks are the perfect match to organize typical servers and networking equipment in office or data center environments. 4-post racks are geared to support heavier weight loads and easily accommodate growing workspaces, as they are easily ganged together. The classic 4-post server rack provides lots of options to choose from.

As an economical alternative to an 4-Post server rack, one could utilize a Rack-to-Frame Conversion Kit, which uses adjustable horizontal braces to connect two relay racks together into a 4-post rack (Bonus: You can also use this conversion kit to secure any telco rack to the wall for added support).

Now, let’s begin with the basics: Typically, 4-post racks are left open or are used as the structural frame of server enclosures. They range in depth from 24” to 42”, and in usable rack space from 6U to 44U (12” – 84” overall height). A variety of styles are available, from small cabinets to large cabinets and wall mounted units (or you can even customize your own—more on this later). Let’s take a look at why 4-post racks dominate the industry:

1. Strength: While a knocked-down 2-post rack typically supports 750 lbs., evenly distributed, fully welded 4-Post server racks can handle more than double or triple that amount. Many options are available, such as the value cabinet, which can support up to 1,500 lbs; the corporate cabinet, which can store up to 2,000 lbs; and the enterprise cabinet, our strongest line, that can handle up to 2,500 lbs. Our fully welded units are Zone 4 seismic rated, UL Listed and made in the USA.

2. Flexibility: Think “out of the box” too for unusual or compact spaces. You might want to consider small floor racks, designed for free standing floor use (many sizes are suited to tabletops or under desks), ranging in height from 12″ to 36″ and in rack space from 6U to 18U. Or try wall mounted computer racks aimed at maximizing the wall space, with depths of 12”, 24”, and 30”; and outside heights of 24”, 36” and 48” respectively. (Note that these racks can fit all 19” rackmount equipment from most major manufacturers, including DELL, HP and others).

3. Customization: To get exactly what you want for your office or data center, opt to build your own cabinet configuration (in fact, you can come up with as many as you need). Techrack customers can take advantage of this unique service to support their specific configuration for their data systems, computers, servers, and telecom equipment. Choose from open 4-post racks to fully customizable server rack cabinets to fit any environment and requirements. As one example, if your situation requires partial ventilation, you can add a perforated door or a vented side panel.

4. Security: More than ever, security has become paramount in the data server market, with low-tech (as in locking doors) and high-tech solutions like biometric identification. Heavy-duty 4-post enclosures can provide protection and confidence to keep intruders out, thanks to features like fully welded steel frames and lockable doors, which are available in plexiglas and perforated metal, and also meet HIPAA and other potential security requirements.

To find about more about ordering a sturdy, versatile 4-post racks or enclosures, contact sales@techrack.com.

2-Post Computer Server Racks “101”

2-post server rack 2-Post Computer Server Racks “101”

by TechRack Systems

One size does not fit all when it comes to server racks. The classic 2-Post Rack (also known as a “telco rack” or “relay rack”) is the most economical way to store 19-inch rack mount equipment, such as computer hubs, power backups, and rack mounted servers. In our two-part series, we will discuss characteristics of a 2-post relay rack (versus a 4-post rack), available configurations, and customization options (something TechRack uniquely offers).

2 Post Racks are often used instead of the conventional Server Racks, Computer Cabinets or Wire shelving Units, but they do have a few limitations.

Security and Temperature
Because 2-Post units are generally set up to be open, one must consider both security and air flow requirements in determining where they are to be situated. In terms of security, consider whether the equipment requires security, if the rack location will be in a small office so that only one person or a few people have access to it or if the racks are housed in a secure room or a “fenced in” area which provides the most security. For equipment that needs constant air flow due to high temperatures, open racks are best suited to meet this requirement, especially if they are installed in non-congested spaces.

Strength. No Matter How Light.
Any two-post rack you purchase should be sturdy and strong, whether it is used for storing light or heavy equipment (note: standard weight capacity is typically 750 pounds, evenly distributed). Techrack, as an example, only sells heavy-duty steel racks with upright channels, outfitted with heavy-duty and top-and-bottom aluminum angles. These are of knocked-down (KD) construction. For storage of even greater loads, consider the use of fully welded 4-Post open frames.

Know Your Equipment Layout
When configuring your relay rack requirements, there are a variety of heights available to accommodate office or data center equipment needs, such as 48″, 68″ or 84″. When it comes to rack spaces (“U”s), these range from 24U, to 45U. Note: 1U = 1.75 inches.

Don’t Forget Add-ons
There are some state and city ordinances that require bracing for earthquake-prone areas. Techrack offers universal earthquake bracing kits so that a rack can be secured to the ceiling or wall. Another method for securing a rack is a floor bracing kit (with seismic tie-down openings). An additional potential server rack requirement to consider is whether mobility around the office or data center is required. Techrack offers specially made relay rack rollers for this option (note: weight capacity is 300 pounds). It is unsafe to attach wheels or casters directly to the base of a relay rack.

Expand Your Space
If you want to have more room for equipment space altogether, you can also create a double telco rack by connecting two 2-post racks together to create a 4-post open rack. This method uses adjustable horizontal braces to connect the two relay racks together (more on this in our next blog post on 4-post racks).

Tailor to Your Exact Needs
One of the unique offerings Techrack provides in the industry is the ability to customize relay racks to meet specific needs that are not “standard equipment needs,” for instance, a rack with computer shelves, blank panels and power strips. In other words, you can take a modular approach to building your rack to create exactly what suits your needs. Customization can be wanted for a variety of reasons: an unusual configuration or shape of equipment, a working environment that may expand in the future, or having an odd office or data center footprint.

TechRack makes it easy to order customized 2-post racks; just select the frame you want and then add on the components you desire.

To find out more about ordering 2-post relay racks, contact sales@techrack.com.

What Kind of Computer Server Rack Do I Need?

TechRackPhotoBlog3a   Rack ‘em Up! (For Your Data Center, That is)

by TechRack Systems

In our last post we discussed buying considerations for the most popular of data center equipment items—server cabinets—the enclosure itself. But what other structural items should you evaluate as part of your purchase? A perfect complement to large computer cabinets, and sometimes in place of them, are racks of various styles to accommodate a range of data server configurations: from open environments to secure areas, from those that require mobility of equipment to compact work spaces, and much more. The possibilities are endless.

These racks can handle diverse equipment such as servers, computers, monitors, telco devices, and keyboards. Understanding each type of rack will help determine which are the most appropriate for your data center or office space. Here are some considerations before buying:

Relay (Telco) Racks

Typically lightweight and sized for 19-inch rack mount equipment, these racks can also accommodate heavier telco equipment. They are available in a variety of sizes and in heights ranging from 24 to 45 rack spaces, depending on your requirements. Relay racks are typically used for mounting hubs, power backup, and rack mount servers. They can also be configured to create a 4-post rack by using adjustable horizontal braces to connect two relay racks together, so flexibility is built in.

Wire Racks (Stationary/Mobile/Security)

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to store heavy-duty equipment, chrome wire racks might be your solution. Available in stationary or mobile configurations, these racks  come in various heights, typically 63 or 74 inches in height, and in depths from 18 to 30 inches. Most open wire racks are used to store computers, but can store other data center equipment as well (note: TechRack’s heavier wire and robotically welded design renders them 25 percent stronger than the competitors).

Another type of wire rack is specifically designed for security. Security Carts are enclosed and used when storing or transporting items that can be a target for thievery. These racks come in several sizes as noted above (including a mini version).

Heavy Duty Server Racks

When it comes to managing your larger equipment set-up, heavy-duty server racks can be used in a vertical configuration for a variety of work areas. Comprised of strong steel, the shelves hold up to 450 pounds of load each and come in modular configurations, so multiple units can be connected together. Units are 78 inches high and the bottom rollout shelf is 26 inches deep (check out our photo gallery for ideas).

Work Center Units

These open work center units combine a storage area and integrated work surface to house equipment and serve as a workspace environment. They are pre-configured with a 36-inch work surface and a 26-inch-deep bottom rollout shelf. The best part is their flexibility: it is easy to create your own tailored configuration by adding or subtracting any component to the workstation (more ideas in our  concept  gallery).

Small Space Server Racks

For that small space in the office, or even in a closet, you might consider using a compact server rack. This is ideal for smaller data centers, tight office spaces and under the desk use.

A lot to think about? Yes. But having choices enables you to  find exactly what you need for your data center or office space.

Next up, we’ll discuss special requirements for your data center that could affect the equipment you purchase.

Image:  Copyright Can Stock Photo

How to Buy a Server Rack or Computer Cabinet

blogpost2image

Top Considerations When Buying Data Server Cabinets and Racks

by TechRack Systems

You might think that buying a computer server cabinet is a pretty straightforward process, but when you consider all the parameters of the purchase, it requires more than a cursory evaluation. In our two part series, we’ll talk about what considerations you should take into account before purchasing server cabinets—from the outside in.

True Cabinet Measurements

To start with, when determining server measurements, you’ll need to know the sizes of all the pieces of equipment you wish to install. Take into account the additional depth, width, and height around the equipment— typically this will be 3-5 inches additional, for proper air flow. (Check with your manufacturer for specific measurement requirements.)

Bigger is Usually Better

Plan for the future at the beginning of the search process: consider a long view of your cabinet requirements instead of just current needs. Even if you only have a few computers for your cabinet now, in a year your business needs may change and grow, other equipment might need to be added. The rule of thumb is: it’s better to spend the budget now for a slightly larger computer cabinet model than to have to purchase a second cabinet because you’ve out grown your purchase.

Sturdy and Strong

Strength is also a factor in a server cabinet purchase. The general recommendation, whether it’s for a small office environment or large data center, is to go with a fully welded steel frame, unibody-type (one piece) to ensure stability in all circumstances. Knocked-down aluminum units, typically from overseas, are plentiful on the market, but they are not nearly as stable. Another issue with these types of cabinets is that it is often difficult to find replacement parts, since all manufacturers have customized, unique styles, sizes, and shapes. In the end, there is a high probability you’ll spend more money finding parts for your current ones instead of buying new cabinets. Again, the upfront investment of buying quality usually pays for itself.

Used Units Can Spell Trouble

Similarly, a word of caution on used cabinets: here you may also end up paying less initially for your purchase, but you’ll have the same problems finding parts later on the open market that are the exact fit your unique cabinet. The saying “penny wise and pound foolish” applies here as well.

Things Can Heat Up

Another consideration when evaluating server cabinets is that that there may be heat build-up from server cabinet equipment. The ability to exhaust and dissipate this continual heat is key. Measures to control this will depend on how much airflow is needed for your equipment. Several solutions are to consider a cabinet that does not have front doors or a computer enclosure that contains a fan to expel air. Another option is a server cabinet with a perforated metal door, which allows constant airflow through the unit. (Generally speaking, if you are going to get cabinet doors, the safest bet is to go with a perforated metal door to keep airflow high and risk at a minimum.)

Custom Configured Cabinets? Yes!

But what if after all of your searching, you can’t seem to find the right cabinet or rack for your specific requirements? Well there’s a solution for that too: You can build your own cabinet. TechRack Systems is one of the few vendors on the market to offer this unique service. Those hard to match, custom cabinet components can be added to meet your exacting needs—including the basic equipment and all of the accessories. You’ll also save time, effort, and money because you will get exactly what you want, and nothing that you don’t.

In a future post, we’ll look at buying considerations for different types of racks, as well as special considerations for equipment purchases.

Image:  Copyright Can Stock Photo