Cabinet Level Containment

A rack and stack seems like a basic procedure that is performed often in server rooms, but if it is done without proper planning, future headaches may be on the horizon. A rack and stack is more than just physically placing hardware into racks and installing cables. It is important to be systematic and methodical about the project. There are better rack and stack procedures that you can implement today to prevent future data center problems, simplify ongoing technical support, and you will thank yourself in the future for applying them to your current project.

These Rack and Stack Tips Will Improve Your Data Center and Prevent Future Data Center Problems

A successful rack and stack has many benefits such as having improved airflow within the cabinet, facilitating rapid installations and modifications of equipment within the rack, and maintaining high-quality network connectivity.

The key to a successful rack and stack is to have a clear and concise rack design with systematically structured cabling and to have a clear working documentation of all inventory and cable runs.

Rack and Stack Physical Assembly Tips

Know the data center layout beforehand—this knowledge will prevent future data center problems and delays. If the equipment is being installed in a new rack, then space shouldn’t be an issue. However, if the equipment will be installed in an existing rack, it is important to calculate how much space it will take within the rack and to make sure there is enough space available beforehand.

Know the power requirements of your new equipment and make accommodations accordingly, making sure to allocate the proper amount of circuits for the project. Know the PDU’s and ensure that the right power cords are available beforehand.

Adequately document your rack design and layout throughout the project. An essential practice is to label all servers, IT equipment, and rack accessories. As you are labeling, remember to record all serial numbers. Having a complete inventory of all the equipment in the rack and continuously documenting changes will keep you better informed in the future.

Install the heaviest servers and equipment at the bottom of the rack to prevent the rack from being top heavy. Maintaining the bulk of weight at the bottom of the rack will prevent it from tipping over in the future.

Make sure to have these tools and materials available for the project to efficiently unpack your new hardware and proficiently assemble it into the rack:

  • Screwdriver drill and bit set—this will save time during the project.
  • Standard flat head and Phillips head screwdrivers—to get to hard to reach places.
  • Scissors and box cutter—to cut through boxes, materials, and cable ties.
  • Plastic tie wraps or Velcro ties—Velcro is more versatile as it is easier to adjust often.
  • Assistance from others to lift and place heavier equipment.

Rack and Stack Cabling Tips

Systematic and structured cabling will prevent future data center problems. There are several structured cabling solutions to enact to prevent you from having to fight a tangled mess of cables in the future to improve your data center.

Label both ends of cables to keep track of network connections precisely. Accurate port mapping and cable traceability will greatly help engineers and technicians with ongoing maintenance.

Use different colors of cables to distinguish different roles and functions of the cables and the type of connection the cable provides. This system will save time when you need to trace cables.

Tie off Cables in bundles per function using either plastic cable ties or Velcro. There is a disadvantage of using plastic cable ties as they must be cut to make any modifications. Velcro, on the other hand, can be unbound and rebound as needed to make adjustments without having to unbind the whole cable run.

Leave slack in the cables to facilitate future modifications and transfers. Eight inches of slack is ideal, but you should leave no more than twelve inches of slack as this excess can become cumbersome.

Do not bundle power cables next to data cables. Bundling the different types of cables closely together causes electromagnetic interference.


Fully Document Your Rack Layout

Make sure you have a fully documented asset report that contains an inventory of equipment (with serial numbers) so that you can better accommodate future equipment maintenance, modifications, and new installations. Make sure to keep it updated as adjustments are made.

Make a fully documented cable list of all cables and fully document all cable runs for the project. Having this information available will help technicians in the future to perform maintenance procedures and make adjustments to the equipment.