Cable Management & Future Rack Developments

There are a number of key areas for IT and data centre managers to consider when it comes to planning future rack developments.

One of the most critical is deciding the precise configuration of the internal components. This typically underpins the success of the whole project, especially when IT racks are not installed in a standardised data centre environment.

Meanwhile, choosing which rack to install requires an understanding of its purpose, the routing of cabling for power supply and networks, and the ideal cooling solution.

Here is a summary of some of the key questions to ask to help ensure the success of any future installation and commissioning of racks.

What will the rack be used for?

The number and type of components will have an impact on the size of the rack. If it will simply be used to house servers, then an IT rack 600mm wide will suffice.

However, if it is primarily for network components, the rack should be 800mm wide to accommodate the cabling.

But, increasingly, enterprises are combining server and network components within individual IT racks.

As IT takes on an increasingly significant role within organisations, more and more components are packed in to make best possible use of existing infrastructure. This means the largest available racks should be selected in line with space constraints. An IT rack that is 42 units high, 800 mm wide, and 1,200 mm deep provides ample room for custom configurations, and allows for future expansion.

2 Rittal Network Cable Orgainser-2

What form of climate control is needed?

Will the rack be installed in a room that does not have an integrated cooling system?  If so, then a suitable cooling system needs to be considered from the outset.

If just a single IT rack is needed then cooling could simply be roof-mounted fans or, if a greater cooling capacity is required, then a compressor cooling unit can be added, either externally or internally, in the form of a DX system – although a higher IP rated rack will be required.  DX systems are becoming more popular as they are relatively easy to install and can be deployed in office environments thanks to the low noise levels of the internal component.  Should the rack be deployed in a conventional DC, with either perimeter cooling units or InRow cooling units adjacent to the racks, then perforated doors should be used.  Additional benefits can be obtained here by also deploying aisle containment or cocooning, where either the cold or the hot aisle (or in some cases both) is enclosed.  The major benefit being lower operating costs and more efficient cooling (better delta T).

Sealed Up?

There are various options for cooling IT rack interiors depending on their use.

For example, inside server enclosures the cool air should flow from front to back, while in network enclosures it should be directed through the parts that need to be cooled.

In both scenarios, it is important to seal around the front 19″ section to ensure cool air does not leak into the ‘hot zone’ at the rack rear and thus lower the delta T across the rack.  All open U’s should be closed off with simple 1U snap-off section blanking plates for effective separation. To this end, there is a range of accessories available to enhance cool-air routing, enabling horizontal airflow for side ‘breathing’ switches, and more.

Effective seals and climate control solutions tailored to the IT rack’s specific purpose will translate into improved energy efficiency. A little bit of planning goes a long way when it comes to reducing energy costs for IT operations.

Where do you want your cables?

A detailed plan for interior and exterior cable routing should be in place before a server enclosure is purchased and configured.  The power supply, in particular, has to be considered. Many active IT components require a redundant power supply which generally means two rack-mounted vertical power distribution units (PDUs) at the rack rear, left and right for an ‘A’ and ‘B’ supply respectively making cable management a bit more complex. Moreover, best practice usually recommends power and copper data cables should be kept physically apart to avoid the unlikely possibility of electrical field interference. Special attention must be paid to the minimum bend radius of the fibre-optic cables to prevent signal attenuation.

If the racks are to be placed on a raised floor, then power and network cabling can simply be laid on separate cable trays underneath. You can also mount cables under the ceiling and route them above the top of the racks. In this scenario, the roof plate needs to be configured correctly openings should be closed off with brush strips creating a tight seal, simplifying cable management, and improving energy efficiency.  It also means that even after cables have been installed, accessories (including roof plates with multiple parts) can be easily removed for simpler maintenance and retrofits.

Many rack vendors offer a choice of elements for effective cable management, enabling customised component configurations. Both open and closed cable duct systems are available for horizontal and vertical cabling, and cabling between thermal zones.  

Typically, air-tightness and a defined air pressure must be maintained to prevent warm air and cool air from mixing. This important consideration is often built into the design of many rack vendors enclosure products.  The enclosure supports the need for air circulation in conjunction with the corresponding cable installation components.

And external cable management?

Crowded IT racks have little available space to squeeze in new components. One answer is to route cables outside the racks such that cable ducts pass through the side of the rack, routing cabling over the top so that it re-enters the rack from the opposite side.  Although this approach can save a great deal of space, it may make identifying individual cables more difficult, and maintenance work more complicated.

Wherever easy maintenance is a priority, cables should be routed inside the racks. Pinpointing and replacing a single cable is then far simpler if there is a failure or if a reconfiguration is required.

Recent developments

Innovative products are now becoming available for in rack cable management.  One of these seems quite interesting: the Network Cable Organiser (NCO).

The NCO is a 482.6 mm (19″) cable storage system. It takes up 1 U in the network enclosure and contains 24 tested CAT 6, Class E patch cables or fibre-optic cables, each with a length of 1.6 m (sufficient for 23 U). It has a modular structure and is made up of individual cassettes. The pulley system integrated into the cassettes allows surplus cable lengths to be drawn in automatically which ensures that every cable is available in the perfect length, eliminating the need to order and stock a variety of different cable lengths. The result is permanently well-organised cable management, providing a perfect overview of what is connected where.

It’s also more energy efficient, avoiding airflow blockages that can arise as a result of surplus lengths of the individual cables inside the enclosure facilitates more efficient cooling. And the NCO saves on space, because it only requires 1 U per switch. Cable management panels are not required, saving additional space, while the flat cables used in the NCO only use one-third of the space of a round cable. The flat cables still offer the same level of reliability, are 100% tested, and the fibre-optic cables additionally have a measurement record on the cassette.

By Clive Partridge, Product Manager IT Infrastructure, Rittal

 

Further information at www.rittal.co.uk and www.friedhelm-loh-group.com or on twitter @rittal_ltd.     

 

Advertisements

A Base for Every Season

Rittal’s new base/plinth system for enclosures and IT racks means it can now offer customers and end-users an unprecedented number of functions and options.

The latest innovation combines all benefits of the existing TS and Flex-Block base/plinth systems in one solution, plus much more besides.  For example, engineers can install VX25 enclosure accessories, while the base/plinth can also be used as an intelligent cable chamber.

All this comes with reduced assembly time, lower costs and greater safety.

The new base/plinth system VX25 from Rittal is designed for the new large enclosure system, as well as being fully compatible with Rittal’s existing enclosure solutions, the TS, TS IT, SE, CM, PC, IW, TP and TE ranges.

The new system combines all the functions and benefits of the Flex-Block and TS base/plinths, which it will soon replace.

As well as an extensive range of accessories, the base/plinth system offers users virtually limitless options around siting, transportation, cable routing, cable attachment and base/plinth configuration.  Its consistent 25 mm pitch pattern means an enclosure’s mounting parts, such as punched sections and rails, can also be used on the base/plinth.  So, in addition to installing baying brackets and cable clamp rails, routed cables can be easily and efficiently clamped and secured in the base/plinth using punched sections with mounting flanges.

This base/plinth system consists of sturdy corner pieces with trim panels at the front and rear and at the sides and is available in heights of 100 or 200 mm.

The corner pieces, like the trim panels, are made of sheet steel, and – due to an integrated centring aid that is pre-fitted in the VX25 frame – it is easy both to position the enclosure precisely on the base/plinth and install the corner pieces. Also new is the ability to attach the base/plinth directly from above, which simplifies screw-tightening.  The base/plinth and enclosure frame can be screwed through the stable base frame with the aid of the nut integrated in the corner piece of the base/plinth.  As an alternative, engineers can screw through the base/plinth into the enclosure’s corner piece.

The sheet steel trim panels can then be easily snapped on and, if the enclosure needs to be lifted with a forklift or lifting truck, they can just as easily be removed again. Clip-in trim panels allow simple, fast access to the enclosure for individual use, e.g. as a cable chamber.

The system lends itself to many applications, thanks to the fully symmetrical corner pieces, and the use of the matching base/plinth trim panels, along the length and width of the plinth. For example, the vented trim panels and trim panels with brush strip accessories can now be attached at the sides, or exchanged for the front/rear trim panels.  And all the trim panels can be clipped into the corner piece, or securely screw-fastened.

Pre-assembled captive nuts allow fast and simple assembling. Depending on the application, users can dispense with the trim panels between bayed enclosure suites, or, alternatively, a 100 mm high trim panel may be used to stabilise the base/plinth corner pieces.

SYSTEM PERFECTION.  About the VX25

The VX25 is the first enclosure system that has been fully developed to meet the requirements for increased productivity in control and switchgear manufacturing and along the Industry 4.0 value chains.

It is a major innovative leap, requiring more than 25 registered property rights, and one which reflects both Rittal’s deep industry experience as well as years of intensive customer dialogue.

The VX25 offers the highest possible quality and consistency of data, reduced complexity and savings in time, as well as safe assembly.

Further information at http://www.rittal.co.uk and www.friedhelm-loh-group.com or on twitter @rittal_ltd.

 

fri180424500 Rittal's new base-plinth system

Rittal Publishes UL Regulations Advice

Rittal embraces the need for a high degree of responsibility for the safety of users and the electrical equipment its enclosures are designed to protect.  As such the company has a policy of always being on the front foot when it comes to fully complying with international regulations.  

In the USA and Canada, for example, a machine cannot be commissioned until approved by the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) to confirm compliance with the valid regulations, such as the National Electric Code NEC (NFPA 70).

The importance of UL regulations cannot be understated for any company exporting electrical equipment into these territories.

UL regulations relate to the protection that enclosures must provide to the internal electronic components.  This includes environmental factors such as dirt, dust, humidity and electromagnetic interference. Control gear and switchgear manufacturers should always take care to ensure that these safety standards are met for any components they are shipping to the USA or Canada.

Rittal Publishes UL Regulations Advice

For enclosure manufacturers such as Rittal, compliance with UL 508A is an important basis for the swift commissioning and approval of equipment and machinery, and the company offers a broad spectrum of industrial enclosures with UL approval. Most have UL approval with a Type 12 protection category (NEMA12); some enclosures with enhanced sealing protection even support Type 4x applications.

Rittal has recently published advice and support for engineers who are designing or specifying systems in line with UL508A, covering all the expectations and requirements for compliance.  Details are available to download from www.rittal.com/uk-en/content/en/unternehmen/presse/pressemeldungen/pressemeldung_detail_55232.jsp.

Further information at www.rittal.co.uk and www.friedhelm-loh-group.com or on twitter @rittal_ltd.