Integrated Rack Enclosures Redefine Data Center Design for IT Solution Delivery Efficiencies

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Over the last 12 months, integrated rack enclosures have emerged as a data center design approach for addressing some thorny data center IT solution delivery issues. As IT solution providers struggle with the challenge of helping their organizations achieve faster time-to-market, traditional server rack and network rack deployments are too slow, involve too many parts and components and are subject to compatibility and reliability issues.

Data Center Design

The business trend of faster time-to-market has challenged rack vendors to come up with some new, rapid system delivery options. One of these options, the integration and shipment of pre-programmed, pre-tested and pre-commissioned fully populated rack systems involves key vendors and systems integrators working in partnership. Referred to as converged infrastructure solutions or “rack and stack”, these systems provide the advantages of faster deployment, ensured compatibility and high reliability.

3 Things to Consider for Converged Infrastructure Rack Solutions

These pre-packaged, integrated rack systems can weigh upwards of 2,000 pounds, and can carry within them up to $1 million worth of gear. Therefore, when ordering such systems, both benefits and risks should be evaluated. Listed below are three important steps to consider when shopping for converged infrastructure rack solutions:

animation of the shock packaging

  • Step 1: Consider the time savings– The alternative to ordering a pre-integrated, pre-tested rack solution is to receive all of the parts and pieces packaged separately. In this case the IT solution provider will face hours of unpacking, assembly, testing and commissioning.  If multiple racks of systems are shipped, the process could take weeks with overall rollout times being severely impacted. Systems integrators are better equipped to handle such tasks over a much shorter period of time and with a higher degree or reliability.
  • Step 2: Investigate for proper equipment certifications – When key technology vendors certify the rack enclosures that house their equipment, users are assured of a higher level of reliability of the gear they are receiving from either a vendor or one of their approved resellers. If non-certified components are inserted as part of the solution, the users run the risk of voided server vendor warranties.
  • Step 3: Recognize the critical importance of rugged packaging for shipment –  One of the significant risks of ordering a pre-integrated system is the possibility of a shipment that no longer functions upon arrival. Such a circumstance results in time-to-market delays and loss of competitive advantage. During shipment, the populated rack may be handled several times across multiple shipping hubs and must be resistant to shocks, vibrations, temperature changes and other variables that affect shipment and transportation.

For this reason, responsible providers perform preliminary International Transportation Safety testing (an industry standard for shipping packaged goods) of rack enclosures. Some vendors offer custom-made shock pallets that are ruggedized and enhanced with vibration absorbing foam so that the rack that is bolted on remains protected. The systems integrator then uses the very same pallets to ship the rack to the end user once the enclosure is populated.

Efficient Rack Enclosures Continue to Support Future Data Center Design Innovations

These pre-packaged solutions are also proving effective in facilitating the rapid delivery of micro data centers in support of emerging edge computing applications.

Two of the early leaders in this technology segment are Cisco and APC by Schneider Electric. By working in partnership (Cisco provides its Unified Computing Systems IT hardware and software platform and APC provides the NetShelter SX rack, power, and cooling hardware and management software), the two companies help IT solution providers to achieve their goal of faster time-to-market with plug and play full-rack systems.

Learn more about APC by Schneider Electric’s rack enclosure innovations and which solutions recently achieved Cisco Certification.

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