What should you be looking for in a rack or cabinet in your data center? Focusing on the important features will save you time and money in the years to come, so take the time to know what you have and where you might be headed.
Although most data centers are supported by standard racks and cabinets, specialty needs such as space, noise, or cooling may require further review. Specialty racks might help save floor space or cost but may have restrictions on the type of internal equipment or power. Sound-dampening cabinets may be necessary where people are working. Existing environmental conditions may mean looking into self-contained/self-cooled racks. Also security at the rack level may be necessary if there is shared space or a lot of traffic.
All of these choices are compounded when you also need to consider airflow of a typical data center. For a raised floor environment, having supply air grilles to allow airflow through the cabinet structure is crucial. With a hot/cold aisle arrangement, be sure your rack can help with this scheme on the floor plan. Bottom-fed and top discharge racks can help with areas where hot/cold aisle separation is still a challenge, but this can also be a challenge to supply equipment with a limit on depth in the rack to achieve better overall rack airflow.
Check your configurations with a vendor to see if there may be conflicts with any of your choices. The trusted manufacturers should be able to help you with testing a potential layout, whether at a test site or possibly with Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling.
Lastly, know how the new racks and cabinets will fit alongside existing equipment. If there is a plan to use hot or cold aisle containment be sure to understand how differing rack dimensions can undermine those goals to prevent air mixing.