Open Racks vs Enclosed Cabinets for IT Equipment

Selecting the appropriate rack for mounting IT hardware can be a daunting task. Finding the ideal rack to store your valuable equipment takes significant time and effort. Apart from appearance, there are several other factors to consider, such as cooling, network security, and space management features. These aspects impact the equipment’s uptime and working potential for future expansion. 

The article will discuss the two types of racks available, providing you with their pros and cons. Yet, there is no definitive answer as to which type is the best. In this article, we will distinguish between the two. After a thorough discussion, you can identify which best suits your business needs.

What is a Rack? 

In simpler terms, a rack is a metal frame that holds servers, switches, and other network equipment. It comes in various sizes and is usually measured in rack units (U), each equalling 1.75 inches of vertical space. 

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Types of Racks

IT infrastructures rely heavily on racks as they are the foundation for mounting various equipment like servers and switches. Primarily, there are two types of racks available: open and closed. Both open and closed racks have their pros and cons. So, it’s essential to understand their differences before using them for IT equipment.

  1. Open Frame Rack: These are simple frame structures with no doors or sides, which allow easy access to the equipment inside. Open frame racks are widely used for equipment that does not require much physical security, such as switches or patch panels.
  2. Closed or Enclosed Rack: These racks are fully enclosed with doors and side panels to provide physical security and protection from dust and other environmental factors. Closed racks are employed for servers and other sensitive equipment requiring higher security and protection levels.

Open Racks Versus Closed Racks

To ensure, efficient functioning, it is crucial to keep in mind the following key points:

  1. Access and Safety:Open racks are frames that are open on all sides. They provide easy access to IT equipment, making repairs and maintenance easier. However, they offer little physical security. On the other hand, closed racks have doors on the front and back that you can lock to keep equipment secure. However, accessing equipment requires opening the doors, which can be more time-consuming.
  2. Cost:Open racks are generally less expensive than closed racks because they require less material to be constructed. However, closed rack frames offer better protection and organisation for IT equipment, making them relatively more costly. 
  3. Organisation and Cable Management:Closed racks are typically better organised than open racks. The doors on the front and back make it easier to keep equipment organised and prevent cables from becoming tangled. Closed frames also have better built-in cable management systems. Open racks offer less organisation and can be more challenging to manage cables.
  4. Cooling:For optimal cooling of IT equipment, open racks are generally preferred over closed rack frames due to their better airflow. Being open on all sides, the equipment is exposed to better air circulation. On the other hand, closed racks can be more challenging to cool since their closed design can trap the heat within the system. 
  5. Aesthetics:When using an open-frame setup, all the electronics, cords, and cables are visible to anyone. However, opting for a closed rack to cover everything creates a much neater and more organised appearance. Closed frames also make cleaning more accessible. With open racks, dust can accumulate on each level, which can be challenging to clean due to the tight spaces between them.

Which Rack Is Right for You?

Both types of racks, open and closed, have benefits and drawbacks. Open racks are affordable and easy to access but only provide a little physical security or organisation. On the other hand, closed racks are more secure and organised, but they come at a higher cost and are more difficult to access.

So, when you select a rack type for your IT infrastructure, it is essential for you to consider your business needs and budget. Always choose a high-quality product to secure your equipment.

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