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Why are Data Center Racks Getting Taller? Server Technology Weighs in
In 2011, we saw a lot of trends in the data center space toward improving energy efficiency –the call for greater attention on rising data center power consumption costs, the rise of the “green” data center manager, and the increased desire for data center monitoring tool sets. But there was one other trend that emerged that does not appear to be waning any time soon – taller racks in the data center.
According to Server Technology (News - Alert), a provider of data center power distribution solutions, while the norm used to be for data center managers to adopt 42U racks, now 50U and larger racks are becoming ubiquitous.
“You always hear about the 42U rack,”” Steve Hammond, product manager at Server Technology, told TMCnet. “Historically, it’s been the common height for a rack because that’s a rack that you can fit through a conventional door you might find in an office.”
“You are still going to find racks that are at that height in those computer rooms that you find at the back of offices, but in the data center environment you are going to find taller racks and because of that, taller PDUs,” Hammond said, noting that customers are requesting Server Technology to design products that can fit into racks as large as 60U nowadays. “… The big question is why customers are going taller--the reason is they can fit more gear in the rack in that vertical space. They can build up easier than they can build out.”
Within the last 18 months, Hammond said the 50U rack has become the most common and customers who are working on new data center builds are especially looking for taller racks because they can fit more equipment in them. Going taller in the rack provides several advantages, according to Hammond.
Specifically, a taller rack can accommodate more gear, particularly gear that can help customers address compute power and storage concerns. Recently, in an effort to address rising data center power consumption costs, a lot of customers are beginning to adopt low power servers that have different functionality and may require a lot less wattage. For those that go with a taller rack, that means that in a 52U rack, for example, they can fit in 52 of these servers. Then Server Technology produces the 52 outlet unit with the necessary meters and intelligence and you have a very tall PDU.
Taller racks also mean that the data center manager can put a variety of equipment in each rack, necessitating PDUs with a greater mix of receptacles to provide power to the different kinds of equipment.
“These customers now have more space in the rack so they can mix and match things in the rack a little bit more,” Hammond said. “Our customers say we want this mix of C13 and C19 outlets; we want one PDU that can handle a rack of all pizza box servers, a rack with blade servers, or a rack with storage devices and other high amperage devices. They want one PDU to rule them all because they have this flexibility to maximize the equipment and capacity of their racks. .”
It is not uncommon nowadays for Server Technology to see more and more requests for PDUs with 40 plus outlets and even 60 to 70 outlets.
Fortunately, thanks to Server Technology’s unique Quality Power Architecture, which allows the company to quickly develop situation-specific devices with the same quality, reliability and production processes found in all Server Technology products, these requests can be met.
“There’s a lot of talk about standardization in data centers today, but we know from our day-to-day customer interaction that all data centers are not alike,” Brandon Ewing, president of Server Technology, said in a recent statement. “Data center managers want situation specific solutions to solve their unique power and efficiency goals. Customers know that we provide the deep power expertise, the highest product quality and reliability, the configuration flexibility and the fast turnaround that data center professionals need to react to their ever-changing environments.”
Data center managers may not be going the low power server route in their taller racks and instead installing equipment that requires quite a bit more power. For those customers finding that they need even more power than traditional 30A and 60A infeeds, Server Technology has been providing 3-Phase PDUs at 415V/60A and 208V/100A to meet the demand for more kilowatts.
Moreover, managers are installing horizontal PDUs as an option. According to Hammond, the move to taller racks has freed up some room to install horizontal PDUs. Horizontal PDUs can help customers who don’t have the zero U-space on the sides of racks. They can also be helpful in applications where larger storage equipments and blade servers don’t fully populate the full rack space.
So will the trend towards taller racks continue in the coming years?
“If you are retrofitting an existing building, you are constrained by the size of that building and you have to fit in room above or below the rack for cooling and your power feed to the rack,” Hammond said. “But in a grassroots data center the trend will continue. Why not go taller? It’s easier to build up then it is build out and build square footage.”
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Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jamie Epstein
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