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Setting Up a 19 Inch Rack Enclosure
(Tuesday, September 24, 2013)
This week’s e-mail focuses on all the components needed to properly outfit a 19-inch rack enclosure. Topics covered include cable management products, drawers, hardware, seismic anchors and other rack enclosure options.

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Setting Up a 19 Inch Rack Enclosure -
Accessories You'll Need
Setting Up a 19 Inch Rack Enclosure - Accessories You'll Need

Setting Up a 19 Inch Rack Enclosure -Accessories You'll Need

Server Rack Enclosures- 36While it is small, a small office or home office can subsist on a very basic Ethernet wiring structure, usually just enough to reach from the outside line to a router and maybe a switch or wireless access point.  But as your needs grow so will the need to organize and centralize your network infrastructure.  The most popular method of managing all the equipment as a company scales up is to mount it on a rack or rack enclosure, where it can be secure but easy for authorized personnel to access it, and easy to cool, organize and maintain hardware.  If you are planning to set up a rack enclosure, there are several other products and components you may need.  This email goes over the most common rack enclosure accessories and add-ons.

Caster Bases, Seismic Floor Anchors, Side Panels and Doors, Top Cover Plates and Thermal Management

Universal Caster Base for WRK Series EnclosuresA rack enclosure itself usually comes with only the four corners and stabilizing bars on two sides.  Among the first few things you should consider are things for the base of the rack, the front and sides of it, and the top of it.  First, if you think your rack enclosure may need to be moved around, you should put a universal caster base under it before you start mounting heavy equipment on it.  Conversely, if you are in an area with seismic activity and you don't want the rack to move when everything else does, seismic floor anchors are a must-have. 

The panels and top of the enclosure usually fill two roles.  First is security.  If the enclosure is in any location where unauthorized personnel could access it, you should get side panels with key locks to provide another level of protection.  The other role is thermal management.  You should plan your enclosure with periodic vents that allow air to be sucked into the enclosure and up through vented or fan-cooled top plates, thus continually cooling the heat-generating powered equipment on the rack.

Extra Rack Screws and Hardware

10-32 Mtg. Screws and Nylon Washer, Pkg/500One accessory that seems ever in short supply when working with rack enclosures is screws and other mounting hardware.  Even if the enclosure already comes with some screws, it is always a good idea to stock a supply of screws, washers and cage nuts for the inevitable changes and shifts on the rack over time.  Keep in mind that the screws must be the appropriate size and length.  Middle Atlantic Products' 500-pack of 10-32, 3/4" long screws comes with a reusable plastic storage jar, convenient if you want to keep the screws together somewhere.

Cable Management Products

cable managementWith very few exceptions, the equipment you install on your rack will probably need to have cables plugged into it, for power, communication and peripheral equipment.  As you add more and more equipment to the rack you will find these cables harder and harder to keep organized.  We've mentioned the importance of cable management accessories before, but it bears repeating.  Rack mount cable managers are invaluable for keeping order, saving you real time and money in the future if you need to change anything.
Drawers, Storage, Trays and Shelves

Rack DrawerFinally, there are several products that may be extremely useful for your rack to have, depending on the other equipment that may be mounted on it.  For instance, lock boxes and utility drawers provide convenient locations to store things you may need, such as tools or extra rack screws.  If you need to directly access a server on the rack, a slide-away computer keyboard, with or without LCD screen, can make maintenance much easier than lugging around a laptop. There are even special storage containers available, such as a CD media holder.  

But the most useful rack-mounted product to consider is a rack mount shelf.  Not every piece of equipment that you may need close to the rack is rack mountable.  In fact, many types of equipment are available as either rack-mounted or shelf-mounted, and the shelf-mounted are usually cheaper.  Installing a shelf on your rack or enclosure gives you a convenient location to place commercial grade products such as switches, routers, media converters, KVM switches and anything else that you do not need a full rack space for.  Also, heavy-duty or low profile sliding shelves can give you a location to place your laptop, tools or other equipment while working near the rack.

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