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What to Put in a Server Rack: Essential Components, Parts, and More

Racks and cabinets are the basic building blocks of the IT environment. They provide support and security for a wide range of equipment and create an organized structure that streamlines maintenance, administration, and troubleshooting. Well-designed racks and cabinets also enhance airflow, helping to reduce the risk of “hot spots” that can cause downtime and equipment failure.

There are many types of data center racks, including two- and four-post racks, open frame racks, and enclosed cabinets. Most have a standard 19-inch width, but they come in various heights and depths. They are generally designed to sit on the floor, but wall-mounted racks may be preferred where space is limited.

Server racks have essential features as well as optional components that enhance their functionality. Choosing the right rack and accessories depends upon what you’re going to put in it, how it’s designed, and how you intend to use it. We’ll explore the various parts of a server rack below.

Equipment Installed in a Server Rack

As the name implies, server racks are meant to house servers, including traditional rackmount servers, blade servers, and more. However, they may also contain routers and switches, storage devices, uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs), and many other types of equipment, often organized according to the workload they support. The equipment may be “rackmount,” meaning that it attaches to the rack itself or designed to sit on a shelf.

Patch panels may also be installed in a rack to connect the various devices and simplify moves, adds, and changes. Typically, they are mounted near the equipment so that cable runs are shorter and easier to organize. In some cases, patch panels are housed in two-post or open frame racks for easy access.

Essential Components of a Server Rack

The most important server rack components are the main frame and mounting rails. Networking and communications equipment is often attached directly to the frame by front brackets. To remove the stress on brackets and the rack itself, there may be rear mounting posts that can be adjusted according to the depth of the equipment. Servers and other large, heavy pieces of equipment are mounted on rails. The rails attach to the main frame and allow the equipment to slide out of the rack for servicing.

Unless the rack is wall-mounted, it will have a base with leveling feet and heavy-duty casters. It is important for administrators to consider the load rating of the cabinet to ensure it can support the weight of the equipment installed. Enconnex cabinets have a load rating of 3,300 lbs, exceeding industry standards. Enclosed cabinets also have top and side panels and front and rear doors.

Server Rack Add-Ons and Accessories

Accessories elevate server racks from basic structural units to highly functional data center infrastructure. Here are some common add-ons:

  • Blanking panels to manage airflow by closing up empty spaces.
  • Cable management systems with “fingers” that keep cables organized and neat.
  • Fixed, depth-adjustable and sliding shelves to support equipment that doesn’t mount to the rack.
  • Pull-out keyboard trays and drawers for holding tools and small gadgets.
  • Rackmount ventilation fans and top-mounted exhaust systems.

Hyperscale data centers often have well-defined specifications for their racks and cabinets. Most organizations are more flexible and choose accessories based upon the use case.

ECX Cabinets from Enconnex

The ECX data center cabinets from Enconnex are trusted by the world's largest technology companies. They are engineered to accommodate all the server rack components, parts, add-ons, and essentials we’ve covered in this blog. Constructed from solid steel and engineered to make equipment installation simple and efficient. Split rear doors and dual side panel design provide easy access while matching locks on the doors and panels ensure security.

ECX cabinets also include value-added features, including:

  • Modular roof panel with large cable pass-throughs
  • Removable roof vent panel
  • Adjustable equipment rails with number labeling on both sides
  • Three-inch, heavy-duty casters
  • Load rating of 3,300 exceeds industry standards
  • Perforated doors maximize airflow from front to rear of the cabinet
  • Toolless PDU mounting rails
  • All cabinets ship fully assembled

Enconnex also offers a full range of airflow and cable management accessories and can bundle its ECX cabinets with aisle containment options. Contact our specialists to discuss the specifics of your project.


Posted by Jerod Green on December 22, 2021

Jerod has been in the data center industry for 10 years and has a passion for manufacturing fiber-optic and copper cabling solutions. As Director of Sales for Enconnex, he helps customers select the right solutions and is involved in the design and installation of enterprise-class network infrastructure.

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