Rack and Stack: Tips for Successful Rack Integration
What is rack and stack?
If you’re a seasoned veteran of the data center, you have probably heard the term “rack and stack.” If you’re a newcomer, it’s a term you must become familiar with. A rack and stack occurs when the equipment in your rack is mounted (racked) before being moved to the data center for deployment (stacked). By racking and stacking your server racks, you can immediately take advantage of the floor space in your data center. This cuts out wait time between your rack being on the floor and actually deploying it for use. However, before you embark on a rack and stack, there are multiple things to consider.
What is rack integration?
Rack integration is the “racking” part of your “rack and stack.” Rack integration is the process of testing, mounting, and programming equipment in a way that is logical in your rack. This can be done with your own team or through the use of rack integration services. Rack integration services have become a popular outlet for equipping and testing your server racks. Rack integration services will fully populate your server racks, test them, and program them all in one location, and then ship the fully integrated racks to your data center. While these services seem great, there are pros and cons, just as there are for a DIY rack-and-stack.
Do I need to use rack integration services?
When performing a rack and stack, it comes down to two options: doing it yourself or using rack integration services. Rack integration services are extremely convenient and efficient. By using these services, you keep all of your systems and equipment in one location until they’re ready for delivery. Since your racks are fully integrated and tested before delivery, they are ready for commission and deployment on arrival. Not only is this convenient, but it’s profitable. By commissioning your racks on arrival, you can profit off your services immediately. There’s also less money wasted on time when your floor space isn’t being used.
On the other hand, a DIY rack-and-stack allows you to be in charge of the entire process, from populating your racks to deploying them. This is a luxury you don’t get by using rack-and-stack services. It also requires less equipment, as shipping fully-integrated racks require specific, protective moving equipment. By racking the equipment with your own team, you don’t have to worry about shipping your racks at all. However, this does not mean that a DIY rack-and-stack is entirely beneficial. Obviously, using your own team, which might be keeping up with the maintenance of other racks, could be much less efficient. Waiting to receive all of the parts you need to populate your racks can also waste lots of time and potential profits. By using rack integration services, all of this equipment is already in one place. If you value efficiency and convenience, rack integration services might be the way to go. If you want to be in charge of the entire process, a DIY rack and stack is right for you.
What do I need to consider before racking and stacking?
Whether you do it yourself or use rack integration services, a rack and stack has some unique elements. The following are the three most important things to consider for a successful rack and stack:
- Load/Weight Capacity – This is especially important for choosing the right rack. Because racks are fully integrated before deployment, the rack must have a dynamic load capacity that is
sufficient to secure equipment while the rack is moving.
- Rack Mount Equipment – You can incorporate just about any equipment in your server racks during a rack and stack. This includes servers, network equipment, cables, rails, cable management trays, etc. However, the weight of all this equipment cannot exceed the dynamic load capacity of the rack. It is important to consider how much equipment and the weight of the equipment that goes in each rack. Obviously, some devices are heavier than others.
- Rack Height – The taller your rack, the less stable it is, which is important when actually “stacking” the racks. There have also been situations where a rack was too tall to “palletize” because it exceeded the allowable height of the freight truck that was shipping it.
Special Equipment for a Successful Rack and Stack
Along with these important elements for rack and stacking, there is special equipment you will likely use. The following are four different types of equipment you might use in your own rack and stack.
- Heavy Duty Server Rack – Going back to load capacity, it’s crucial to use heavy-duty server racks when racking and stacking. Not every rack supports the weight capacity needed for a rack and stack. Furthermore, it’s important to use enclosed cabinets for added protection. RackSolutions offers two server racks that are truly “rack and stackable”: The 151DC and 151SW.
- Shock Pallets and Ramp – These are especially important if using rack integration services. Shock pallets allow the rack to absorb any potential blows that could harm equipment while being transported. Once these racks arrive on shock pallets, you will need a ramp to move them. A ramp allows you to move your racks in a way that is slow and free of major risks.
- Caster Kit – Once you populate your racks or ship them, you must be able to move them to specific areas. This almost always requires a heavy-duty caster kit. The wheels on your caster kit must be able to support the weight of your fully integrated rack.
Planning for your Rack and Stack
The best way to summarize all of this information is to plan. You don’t want to try racking and stacking your data center without considering all your options and planning. Make sure you think about the space in your facility and the type of equipment you are mounting. Consider cost efficiency and convenience as well. Lastly, you should contact rack integration services or others for help to get you started. Planning helps ensure your rack and stack is a success from start to finish.