enclosures and server coolers

All About Cooling Server Rack Enclosures

Server enclosures or cabinets are part of the backbone and infrastructure of the modern world and like so many other essential and basic aspects of the largely unseen fabric of modern life server cabinets have many different features and characteristics.

Often called Enclosures or server racks, server cabinets come with different specifications suitable for the many applications where servers are used. The footprint of a basic server rack is 600mm x 1000 mm and the heights vary depending on the U space or server capacity inside the rack. A U space or rack unit space is defined by Wikipedia as ‘a unit of measure defined as 1 3⁄4 inches (44.45 mm). It is most frequently used as a measurement of the overall height of 19-inch and 23-inch rack frames, as well as the height of equipment that mounts in these frames, whereby the height of the frame or equipment is expressed as multiples of rack units. For example, a typical full-size rack cage is 42U high, while equipment is typically 1U, 2U, 3U, or 4U high.’ Often a 42U cabinet will have servers spaced out inside it to let the air circulate around the servers and to prevent hot spots.

Server racks effectively become server cabinets and enclosures when they are sealed with integrated doors and panels. Once a server rack is enclosed then the rack itself and its’ contents can be secured from physical theft and the ingress of dust and water. Enclosure cabinets also are acoustic in so far as the panels absorb the sound made by the servers themselves. This feature of a server enclosure can be supported by adding insulation to minimise the sounds emitted by the IT equipment providing for the possible close proximity of working to the operation of essential equipment. These quiet office server cabinets can be a benefit if you work in a small office.

Cooling of the contents of an enclosed rack becomes of much greater significance and can be addressed in a number of ways. From the smallest office server cabinet and micro data centre to the largest data centre all server racks containing IT equipment require cooling. This can be the most basic server rack with some fans, to a complex cooling system for large scale installations. Cooled server enclosure cabinets are necessary for the smooth and uninterrupted operation of the equipment in the cabinets. In an article about Axair fans in www.psbionthenet.com, the author states that ‘the overheating of expensive equipment through failing to provide active enclosure ventilation is by far the main cause of failure within electrical cabinets’. Complex cooling, therefore, becomes crucial for the safe functioning of all enclosure cabinets. There are several ways how to keep your server rack cool depending on your situation.

Server enclosures that are positioned outside can be particularly susceptible to condensation and ingress of water, dust and debris. A properly assessed and executed cooling system effectively secures the ambient temperature within the cabinet and ensures the continuous running of the equipment inside. Cabinet cooling systems, therefore, are not simply about keeping equipment cool but maintaining an optimum environment for the equipment to work properly.

In summary, therefore, server enclosures are an essential part of modern life that effectively provide the physical skeleton to the body of technology that surrounds us all and on which we depend. Without adequate cooling, the enclosures will overheat and the equipment within will be damaged. Bespoke cooling systems are possibly the best option for cooling server enclosures as the cooling requirements can be precisely calculated and can be calculated to be future proof. Server enclosures have many features and successful enclosure cooling is mostly not a one size fits all process.