Middle Atlantic Hinged Plexiglass Security Doors: Tamper-Free Visibility for Critical Server Equipment
You know that scene in Ocean’s Eleven where one of the Utah twins (can’t remember if it was Scott Caan or Casey Affleck) manages to get into the casino’s “secure” data center, mess with a patch cord or two, and gain access to the surveillance video feed? First, you’ve gotta love that they worked a little server room tampering into the plot, and secondly, why the heck wasn’t that equipment locked up better? Didn’t Terry Benedict and his security staff know there was at least some chance that several of Hollywood’s best-looking, lovable scoundrels would stop by to rob them blind on fight night?
Apparently not, or they would have gotten their Bellagio-monogrammed mitts on at least a few of Middle Atlantic’s Hinged Plexiglass Security doors.
These rackmount security doors are made in 2, 3, 4, and 8U heights, come complete with pre-installed keyed locks, and bolt onto just about any standard 19″ server rack, so you can protect just one or two components, or a whole group of them. The doors are fantastic because they keep your equipment perfectly visible, but limit access to only trusted keyholders. Those prowling, sticky-fingered, up-to-no-good types may be able to see your telecom equipment, but won’t be able to actually sabotage it. Perfect.
Now that we’ve covered the basic idea, on to the specs. The security doors are framed in 16-gauge steel to stay strong, and have a tough black powder coat finish that resists scratching and matches well with pretty much any rack. They also have a stand-out depth of 1½ inches, so they give plenty of clearance for controls, cable connectors and the like.
And did I mention that they’re almost as easy on the eyes as certain Ocean’s cast members? Almost.
Here I am, huddled in layers and cringing as I get periodic updates on the “winter weather system” (aka “The Soon to be Historic Blizzard of 2011″) that’s getting ready to mercilessly whack my corner of the Earth at any hour now. Surprisingly, no matter how bleak and chilly both the current room temperature and my outlook are, my laptop is unfazed, cranking out the BTUs like nobody’s business.
At the moment, the gentle warmth emanating from my laptop’s side vent is like a balmy tropical breeze by which to warm my hands, but were the ambient temp in my office on the stuffier side, I’d be worrying about things like proper ventilation – after all, when our favorite electronics start feeling the heat, they tend to call it quits, whether or not we’re okay with that. This especially goes for components that tend to be housed close together on shelves. Group electronics together in a tight space, and conditions can go from comfortable to sauna before you know it.
Rack fans are great, but they’re kind of limited to, well… racks. And enclosures. The kind that you usually find in server rooms or data centers. But what if you have just a few high-tech home theater components that run hot and need some help cooling off? Or a small server setup that doesn’t quite warrant a full-scale cooling enclosure? That’s where Middle Atlantic’s Comp-Cool Component Fans come very much in handy.
Unlike your typical rack fan, Comp-Cool fans are individually paired with the devices that need them most. They install right over a component’s vent to draw out damaging heat, right at the source. Even better, they run quietly (at only 19 dB) and switch themselves on and off automatically, kicking into gear when the temperature registers 90°F, and going on break when things have been cooled down to a more comfortable 88°F. You get the double benefit of well-ventilated equipment, and the money savings that come with electronics that run only when they absolutely need to.
Geist Variable Speed Fan Controller: “Steps on the Gas” or “Hits the Brakes” as Enclosure Cooling Needs Fluctuate
Filed under: Energy Conservation, Server Racks and Enclosures
From the green perspective on data center cooling, keeping rack fans running full tilt all the times is the equivalent of revving your engine nonstop while sitting through a red light, or keeping an oven preheated 24/7 so that it’s ready to go if and when you feel like baking something. In other words, it’s needless, wastes crazy amounts of energy, and causes unnecessary wear and tear on the components left running (i.e. the fans).
That’s not to say that cooling isn’t one of the most important elements of a well-run server room. Rack fans are, in many cases, a must, and they need to be left on to adequately circulate air and keep things comfortable for temp-sensitive computer equipment. The point is that they don’t have to be run at high speed all the time to do their job. It’s actually possible to keep a server enclosure at an optimal temperature with fans running at lower speeds and using less energy. Considering the stat I recently read that said cooling costs alone can swallow up to 40% of a data center’s energy budget, why wouldn’t you want to make some smart pare-downs wherever possible? Your data center will be that much greener for the energy savings, and the lower electricity bills won’t hurt your budget either.
So, how do you accomplish these energy-conserving fan speed adjustments? It’s easier than you might think. Geist’s Variable Speed Fan Controller mounts right into a server enclosure, and based on temperature parameters that you set, adjusts fan speed as needed when temp readings fluctuate. If things are warm but not too stuffy, fans will be run at a gentler speed, saving you unnecessary wear and tear on your ventilation fans, as well as pointless overspending on energy. But when that equipment kicks into high gear and starts cranking out the BTUs, the fan controller senses the rise in temperature, and makes the fans work harder. Exactly what you need, when you need it.
The Geist Variable Speed Fan Controller also has a web interface, and can be set to warn you via e-mail, SNMP traps or XML when temperature conditions get out of control and warrant your personal attention. You can also adjust fan speeds remotely by way of the web interface, so it’s a perfect option for business owners or data center managers who need peace of mind even when they’re on the go.
Geist Compact Environmental Monitor: The High-Tech Babysitter for Your Most Sensitive Network Components
I’m a little foggy on how it all unfolded, but there’s a scene in an old episode of Frasier in which the lovably pretentious Frasier Crane (played by Kelsey Grammer) complains to his blue collar, ex-cop father, Martin (John Mahoney) about all of the things that drive him crazy and make life unbearable. The exact annoyances I can’t remember, but they probably had something to do with imbeciles who can’t correctly pronounce the name of his favorite opera, someone dreadfully fouling up his $8 cappuccino order, or a sommelier who didn’t live up to expectations – you know, the everyday stuff. Anyway, when Frazier finishes his whiny rant, Martin retorts with something to the affect of, “Well, aren’t you a little hothouse orchid!”
I never thought I’d end up relating one of my favorite shows to IT equipment, but here it goes: network components are just as much hothouse orchids as our gent Frasier is. They may not snub and whine and spend way too much at the haberdashery, but man, are they finicky – especially when it comes to temperature and humidity. Let servers get too hot, or mess with the ambient humidity too much, and they start spazzing out or shut down altogether. Talk about electronics that need constant babysitting!
But there’s not really a choice: communication must go on, so the equipment that makes it possible must be coddled. But now there’s an easier way, one that gives you a break from constantly monitoring the thermostat and humidity levels. Meet Geist’s Compact Environmental Monitor, an extremely helpful device that mounts in any data center or server enclosure, and keeps tabs on all the vitals for you… while you spend your time on better things.
Here’s how it works: you install the environmental monitor, and then set a few predetermined maximum and/or minimum thresholds, or cutoff points. If the temperature or humidity go above or below the parameters you’ve set, the monitor automatically sends you an alert via e-mail, so that you can tend to the problem at hand. This is all thanks to a PoE web interface that provides the Internet connection and the power – you don’t even need to plug it into a separate electrical outlet.
High maintenance just got a lot easier to deal with.
Black Box IntelliPass Biometric Access System: Authorized Cabinet Access That Takes Nothing More Than a Fingertip Scan
There was a time when critical server access control meant only one thing: an enclosure with locks – the kind that require keys. Keys that could easily be misplaced, or even worse, stolen. Keys that could fall into the wrong hands, or force you to call a locksmith if they couldn’t be found. Keys that made that heavy, jingling mass of metal in your pocket look and feel more like a jailer’s keyring than a collection of door-openers belong to a tech-savvy pro. Keys suck. It’s time to kiss them goodbye, and say hello to the future of computer cabinet access.
Meet Black Box’s Intelli-Pass biometric cabinet access system. If you ever thought that biometrics were way too James Bond or Mission Impossible for your humble data center, think again. Server room biometrics are here, accessible, and in the hands of Black Box, really, really good.
The Intelli-Pass installs right where an enclosure’s handle would normally go, and at first glance, actually looks like a handle. But zoom in on it, and you’ll notice that there’s a small fingerpad at the top, which is precisely where the magic happens. It’s “unlocked” with the most convenient, least duplicable keys of all: the fingerprints of you and your most trusted IT staff members.
One thing that I really like about the Intelli-Pass (aside from the biometrics) is that it’s designed with tamper-resistance in mind. While the fingertip scanner is very necessarily located on the outside, unsecured portion of the device, all of the most sensitive inner-workings are safely stashed on the other side of the enclosure door, where they can’t be vandalized or otherwise damaged. It also has the very cool feature of alarm system compatibility – tie it into your building’s existing emergency alert system, and the Intelli-Pass can be configured to automatically open server enclosures when the alarm sounds, so that equipment can be accessed or removed instantly.
I know that I totally ripped traditional keys before, but sometimes you may want them as a backup, so Intelli-Pass is available in an optional keyed version in the event that you’d like to have standard key access in the event of a power outage. It’s pretty convenient, really. They think of everything.
Dasco Media Storage Racks: Simple, Organized Storage for Offices, Studios, Libraries or Home A/V Hounds
Filed under: Home Theater, Server Racks and Enclosures
So, A/V fans, how do you store your media? Unless you’ve gone completely Technologically Awesome and have, by now, ripped all of your CDs and started downloading all of your favorite movies from iTunes, you still need a place to keep that stuff (for the record, I do, too). I don’t know about you, but my music and movie storage situation tends to get a little precarious at times, mostly because discs (boxed, jewel-cased or au naturel) aren’t meant to be stacked into mini-skyscrapers until you need them. Bump into one of those piles, and bad things happen. Try to whisk one disc out of the stack without disturbing the others, and you’re in a predicament that’s worse than Jenga and the Tablecloth Trick combined.
Sounds like it’s time for a media rack.
I just recently got a load of Dasco’s Media Storage Racks, and I have to say, I like what I’m seeing. If you’ve ever wished that you could get your hands on the type of shelving units you see at the neighborhood movie rental place or your library’s AV department, these are them, just a little better. Their angled shelves keep things from sliding off, make it easier to scan titles, and can be adjusted in 1 inch increments, depending on what you need to store. Whether you’re into CDs, games and Blu-Ray discs or are still kickin’ it old school with the audio cassettes and VHS tapes of your glory days, it all fits.
I’m not going to even try to imply that this would be the perfect fixture for your living room, but if you have a separate, dedicated home theater or media room, it would work like a charm. What’s really nice is that you can choose the configuration that works for you – there are multiple heights, single and double-sided designs, and standing or wall-mount versions available.
Lest I paint too narrow a picture, here, Dasco‘s media racks aren’t just for home A/V types – they’re also great for offices, schools, studios, and any other environment with lots of media in need of proper storage. It’s time to stop treating your discs and tapes like building blocks.
In this world, there are two types of People Who Get Stuff Done. The “Do-It-Yourselfers,” and the “I’ll-Do-It-Myselfers.” I’m the latter. I don’t know exactly why, but I hate asking for and/or accepting help. I’m always ready to lend other people a helping hand, but this project I’m working on? I’m fine, thank you very much – you can stop hovering in concern and go away now. It can be putting together a bulky piece of furniture, hanging a huge, heavy picture on the wall (without being able to find the hook), or painting a spot that’s just a little out of reach, even when I’m standing on a chair. It’s stupid, actually. Pretty pathetic. But I figure that at least the risk is pretty low – I only act like this with my own stuff, and if I screw up, I’m the only one who will be put out.
I would never do this if I were, say, a professional network or A/V installer who happens to rackmount other people’s really expensive new electronics on a regular basis. Trying tackling a job like that alone, and you could end up in a situation that calls for way more than an embarrassed “Oopsie.” Rackmounting heavier components often requires two pairs of hands, but what do you do if there isn’t a sidekick available, or if you (like someone else you know) prefer to work alone?
The product developers at Kendall Howard know that staff can run short and that stubborn people sometimes take singlehanded risks, so they created the Rack Helper, a temporary bracket that’s able to bear the weight of heavy servers and UPSs while you use both of your hands – and all of your focus – to bolt them into a rack. No juggling routines or physical strain: just an extra pair of hands (so to speak) that stay out of your way, and let you work faster and smarter. And if that’s not enough, you’ll love this: the Rack Helper doesn’t charge by the hour, so it can really help you cut down on labor costs.
I think that being faced with server racks and enclosures all the time, I tend to take rack-mounting for granted. Have computer components, recording equipment or a power conditioner? Just bolt it/them into a rack – that’s what everyone does. Or do they? What about the people who have absolutely no extra space to accommodate a full-blown server rack? Or who may have some rackmountable equipment, but not enough to merit the purchase of a full-size enclosure?
My guess is that they balance stuff on desks and table tops, and hope for the best. That can be a little risky, though – think about all of the overheating and general damage that can happen when when stacks of papers and cups of coffee are piled near (or worse, on) your network equipment. Not a pretty thought.
So Bud Industries has decided to stop cringing at all the horrifying what-ifs, and has developed a table-top relay rack for all of those small offices that only need a little bit of rackmounting. No oversized, cumbersome cabinet that takes up too much valuable floorspace, and no wallmount enclosures jutting out into your already limited workspace. Just a compact rack that’s the perfect size (12U – 16U) for the few components that you have, and can be installed right onto a desk, table or media console top without hogging your entire work surface. Safely mounted electronics with no wasted money, and no wasted space. That’s just smart.
Filed under: Desks and Workstations, Server Racks and Enclosures
So, I saw the name “Dasco Media Storage Cabinet,” and I automatically got presumptuous and assumed that this one was like all the others: a plain metal cabinet used to put things like CDs, DVDs and licensed software under lockdown. Then I dug a bit deeper, and when I saw what this cabinet is truly capable of, I began to remember the old adage that says that “when you assume, you make an *ss out of u and me.”
Needless to say, I was wrong. This wasn’t any ordinary storage cabinet. It was a treasure trove of storage possibilities. From the outside, it doesn’t look like anything particularly special, but thanks to all of the optional accessories you can choose from to accompany it, it can be turned into an ultra-custom dream cabinet. Want to store CDs and DVDs? No problem – there are special dividers designed just for that. Need to hang files and store binders? Easy – there are special drawers and compartments for that too. But I think my absolute favorite would have to be the mail cubbies, so that you can sort and store mail for a bunch of people at once. I’m not so sure why I like those so much, but I think it might be because they remind me of Fawlty Towers, with John Cleese flipping out in front of the hotel’s front desk mail compartments.
Sorry, we’re talking multimedia storage, not BBC classics. Anyway, the whole concept is that you order the basic cabinet, and then treat it like a blank canvas, customizing it with whatever floats your boat. And then it’s beautiful, organized storage galore – under lock and key anytime you choose. Who knew that mere office storage could be this good?
Filed under: Computer Accessories, Server Racks and Enclosures
I never have to worry about keeping track of more than one laptop myself, but to IT teams that have entire fleets of corporate laptops to keep tabs on, I feel for you. Signing them in and out, making sure that they’re only accessed by the chosen few, and keeping them clean (data-wise) and functional has to be a pretty big job, and heaven forbid that one ever goes missing. (I once received a letter from a former employer that several company-owned laptops had disappeared, and that my personal information may or may not have been on one of them. I and hundreds/thousands of other current/former employees were then offered complimentary ID theft monitoring. Someone’s head had to have rolled for that one.)
Like I was saying, the protection and maintenance is a lot of responsibility, so that would make anything that brings a little peace of mind and lets you turn your back without worrying a great thing, right? Meet the Dasco Secure Laptop Storage Cabinet, your newest ally in the battle against corporate computer/data theft. This thing is like a luxury high-rise fortress for company-owned notebook computers. Every laptop gets its own room (okay, so by “room” I mean “drawer”) with a keyed lock, and full amenities like power, luggage storage (aka: the roomy accessory drawer at the bottom), and even the option of “in-room” (okay, in-drawer) Internet access, so you and your staff can operate the laptops without actually having to drag them out and hook them up somewhere else.
Wow – secure storage and battery charging all in one place. No “Where did that laptop disappear to?” And no “Why wasn’t this notebook’s battery charged when I took it to my presentation?” So congratulations, Great Guardian of the Laptops: your job just got a lot less stressful.