Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Server Racks and Enclosures
I’m one of those people who’d really rather not fish around behind desks looking for computer cables. It’s annoying to have to crawl around on rough carpet, there are almost always dustballs involved, and I’m perpetually terrified that my rear pants-waistband will creep down well below where it’s decently supposed to be – and I do not want to come down with a case of Plumber’s Butt… ever.
With these neuroses in mind, I’ve become a big fan of products that keep unplugged computer and peripheral cables at seated arm’s reach, right along the back edge of your desktop. This solves the problems experienced by me, Ms. Crack is Whack, but what about all the IT guys out there who have to worry about keeping cables just so in a server enclosure?
Now, I’m pretty sure that locating stray cables in a server enclosure is free from the public exposure issues that I always run from, but still, it’s got to be super frustrating. Trying to grope around for a cable or two in what is essentially a dark metal box full of electronics pumping out hot air can only be unpleasant at best. And that’s before you even think about the tens or hundred of patch cords that already live in there. It’s kind of a hellish “Where’s Waldo?” scenario.
Luckily, it seems that some genius out there decided to apply their mental powers to server rack accessory design, because Middle Atlantic happens to offer the perfect solution to this needle-in-a-haystack-type predicament. I give you the Brush Grommet Panel. It may not look or sound too exciting, but this thing works, and in more than one way.
First of all, it’s designed like a brush, which means bristles. Said bristles gang up together, and united, they’re gentle enough to let cables move on through when they need to, but strong enough that they hold the cables in place, without letting them slip backward into oblivion (aka “the cabinet”). Secondly, even though the look like they completely block cable access openings, all of those bristles we just talked about still actually allow for airflow, helping to keep interior components cool. And lastly, while the bristles let air through, they’re not so easy on dust, which we all know is riff-raff and needs to be kept out and away from fussy server equipment.
So, IT/Network Admin dudes… why don’t you have one of these yet?
Filed under: Server Racks and Enclosures, Tools and Cases, Workplace Safety
Workplace safety isn’t limited to ergonomics, lockout/tagout and PPE – sometimes, it’s all about the storage. Take flammable materials… you can’t just leave them laying around or stack them in a corner somewhere. Aside from the obvious ignition risks, many fuels and flammable solvents can also cause chemical corrosion or damage to other materials, so the smartest and safest bet is to keep them well-contained in strategic areas of your facility.
As for what to actually keep them in, I suggest Flammable Storage Cabinets by Eagle Manufacturing. These double-walled enclosures provide an excellent buffer between hazardous flammables and the things that might set them off, such as sparks, open flame and high heat. And they’re just as good at keeping flammables in as they are at sealing ingnition sources out: a 2″ raised door sill keeps liquids from trickling out, even if there’s a leak or spill inside the cabinet.
Leveling legs and an all-around 1.5″ air cushion (remember those double walls I just mentioned?) keep vibration at bay, to prevent seals from loosening and containers from toppling over. As for warning workers of flammability risks, these Eagle enclosures are emblazoned with unmistakable safety warnings in 3 languages (English, Spanish, and French) to eliminate any confusion as to the cabinets’ contents and their potential dangers.
And there’s one other little thing that these help with: OSHA compliance.
Being that we’re all about networking and rackmounting server equipment, it can be easy to get a little narrow-minded about the options that are available. If you see enough open server racks or cabinet-style enclosures, those can start to seem like the only choices out there. Sure, you can customize things a bit by choosing whether you want to wall mount the rack or just set it on the floor, but what about those times when you might not want to see any rack at all? Granted, there are quite a few companies out there whose server and A/V racks get better looking all the time, but when all is said and done, a rack is a rack, and no matter how sleek and updated its look is, it still has the potential to drag down the aesthetics of certain environments.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy just nixing electronics in rooms that can’t be marred by bulky equipment racks. Should a high-end executive conference room or beautifully designed house of worship have to go “unplugged” just to avoid the techy look of projectors and computers? No way! Multimedia presentations are a staple in many different venues today, no matter how clean and uncluttered appearances need to remain. Luckily, FSR has come up with an easy solution for facility managers who need to keep rooms technologically up to speed, yet visually electronic, cable, and rack free: the CB Series Ceiling Box.
FSR’s CB Series boxes actually let you mount projectors and network equipment right in your drop ceiling. Length and width-wise, the boxes are sized to the roughly the same dimensions as standard ceiling tiles, so they can be installed right within the dropped-ceiling frame. The bottom of each box (what you’d see if you were looking up at the ceiling) stays flush with the ceiling tiles for a uniform look, and can be opened trap-door style when equipment needs to be accessed. And thanks to varying numbers of built-in outlets (it depends on which box you pick), all of the the cables – including power cords – can be routed and hidden in the ceiling as well, you’ll more or less never see a thing. Talk about invisible.
Filed under: Power and Data Distribution, Server Racks and Enclosures
There’e nothing like a media cart to get me reminiscing about the good old days at Pembroke Elementary School (go Panthers!). Back at my original alma mater, the sight of a TV and VCR setup rolling through the classroom door was enough to make us pray that the feature presentation would last until end-of-the-day dismissal (in case you didn’t already know, movies instead of Science and Social Studies equals less homework). So it goes without saying that media carts have always held a special place in my homework-loathing heart. But it’s not just me; ask any public school kid – I’m sure they’d say the same.
Only the other day, I was writing an article on how to organize A/V cart cables, and I got to wondering, “why don’t we sell these things?” Turns out that our New Products team was way ahead of me on that one, because the very next day, as if by magic, I received an e-mail stating that we now sell Vutec’s Wide Body Media Cart.
The first thing that I noticed about this cart is that its wider design makes it a lot sturdier than the A/V carts of my past. I don’t know if that’s just because I was a pipsqueak at the time, but the school media carts I remember were usually about 8 feet tall, and always extremely top-heavy. Vutec’s, on the other hand, are quite a bit stockier (in a good way, though), and built to be a heck of a lot sturdier. I really like their shorter height, too – with the TV platform topping out at 48 inches high, it’s a lot easier to view the screen without having to tilt your head back at an uncomfortable angle.
Another nice feature is the locking compartment at the bottom, which gives you a safe place to stow DVDs, remote controls, and anything else you might want to secure. But one of my favorite things is the built-in surge protector, which lets you plug the entire cart into just one receptacle, but gives you 4 protected on-cart power outlets for all of your electronics.
Sooooo… what say we break out the Orville Redenbacher, wheel in the TV, and catch up on some vintage Nat Geo documentaries? C’mon, pleeeeeeeeaaaaase? But they’re educational!
Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Server Racks and Enclosures
Quick – as fast as you can, name as many classic “pairs” as you can think of! Peanut butter and jelly. Chicken and waffles. Sonny and Cher. Starsky and Hutch!!! It’s never much of a challenge to come up with pairs that are funny, delicious, or total ’70′s throwbacks, but listing obvious dangerous duos can be a little tougher. I don’t know what comes to mind for you, but two things that don’t do well together for me are sheet metal and cables.
At one point or another in your life, chances are you’ve inadvertently made contact with the edge of a piece of sheet metal, and sustained, at very least, a scratch. Sharp sheet metal edges can be really nasty to things that are softer then they are, be that human skin, or even cable insulation. That’s why it’s so important to cover them up and render them harmless -but how do you accomplish that feat?
Easy. Just try some adhesive-lined grommet edging from Panduit®. Designed for use in server rooms and data centers where enclosures made of sheet metal abound, this completely customizable product gives a quick fix when you need to make cable cutouts safe for contact with both hands and network cables. The grommet material comes on a roll, so you can cut off the exact amount you’ll need. And it’s even lined with adhesive, so once it’s in place, it will stay exactly where you want it to.
Here’s how it works (this won’t take long). First, as I just mentioned, you cut off a piece that’s the same length as the sheet metal edge you need to cover. Next you apply the grommet edging by slipping it onto the edge (the sheet metal will slide easily into the grommet channel). And for a finishing touch, pinch the applied grommet between your thumb and forefinger all along its length, so that the adhesive lining activates and gets a good grip on the sheet metal. And, well… that’s about it.
Not a bad day’s work, considering that the tiniest amount of effort and a very cost-effective product are all you need to invest in the safety of your cables and your fingers. Believe me, you’ll appreciate this stuff the very first time you run wiring through a sheet metal cutout and manage to finish the task with both the cable jackets and your skin intact. I promise you this: sheet metal and grommet edging are a way better combo than Sonny and Cher.
Okay, this is one of those rare blog posts that don’t involve me talking directly to professional network installers, home DIY’ers, or gadget-obsessed tech fans. Today, it’s time for the working musicians to listen up. Yes, I’m talking to all of you guys (and girls) who pack up your gear and instruments, stuff them into the backs of your cars and vans, and set it all up someplace else, so that you can rock the worlds of music-loving followers who pack into bars, live music venues, and outdoor festivals every weekend.
While I can’t do anything to reduce the wear and tear that you might feel from taking your show on the road, I can recommend something that will make travel a little less painful (and dangerous) for your power conditioners, equalizers, rack tuners, and patchbays: Shock Rack Cases from Gator. These aren’t your standard polyethylene road cases – they have rubber shock absorbers in each corner to cradle your electronics, and absorb the impact of drops, jolts, and plain old road vibration.
One of the really great features of Gator’s polyethylene Shock Rack Cases is that they’re ATA compliant, so that even if you have to fly with your rack mounted gear, you can relax during the flight, because you’ll know that the equipment will stay safe on the plane, and be stage-ready as soon as you land. Shock Rack Cases also have locking lids to keep things secure, and their recessed side handles make them easy to pick up when you need to move your gear around.
They may call the items in the Kendall Howard Performance Plus™ Series “LAN racks,” but in layman’s terms, they’re really just the ultimate in workstations. These heavy duty modular workstations are designed to be positively loaded with computer equipment, while still giving you a flat work surface to sit at for writing and typing. These bring you the best of both worlds – they give you the benefits of both a desk and an ultra-sturdy server rack.
Performance Plus™ LAN racks come in a standard 80″ height (well, that actually changes to 84″ if you choose to use the optional casters), and can have either a 24″ or 30″ depth (your choice). You can also choose from 4 different widths that range from 36″ to 72″ inches. All of these sizing choices give you great flexibility to find the exact fit for your needs and work environment – there’s even a corner model available for situations where space is tight and there isn’t much real estate available along the walls.
But no matter which option you choose, the one thing that doesn’t change is the incredible weight capacity – each shelf on a Performance Plus™ workstation can handle up to 850 lbs of equipment! With this type of capability, there’s not much reason to keep purchasing desks and server racks separately (unless you really need an enclosure, that is). These LAN racks make ideal work spaces in data centers and IT labs, but they’re not limited to computer applications – with their rugged design and high weight capacity, they also make terrific work benches and shipping stations in factories and warehouses.
In server rooms and data centers, one of the most important aspects of managing computer equipment is keeping it cool. When servers and other network components run, they produce heat, and when you have a whole room full of electronics, things can get toasty pretty fast. And here’s the problem: despite the fact that computers can really crank out the BTUs, heat can actually cause a lot of damage. Overheated components, in a best-case scenario, don’t run as efficiently as they should. But it can get a lot worse – when running too hot, computer equipment can be irreversibly damaged, completely shut down, and force you to foot the bill for both new equipment and network downtime. Needless to say, that can turn into a very expensive situation.
The moral of this story is that you should never skimp on thermal management – no good can come of it. But there are so many choices out there for server room thermal management – how is one to decide? In addition to having a great air conditioning system in place for the entire room, you need to consider how you’ll tackle the excess heat issue server enclosure by server enclosure. When you have components rack mounted in cabinets, they’re more prone to heat build-up because everything is confined. So, you can opt for rack fans, vented doors and side panels, or get really sophisticated with a liquid-based cooling system that pumps coolant through a system of pipes to absord and carry away heat. Or, if you want a complete solution that will cause you the least amount of hassle, you could always just go with a Lake Effect enclosure from Great Lakes.
The Lake Effect server enclosure is built for cooling; in fact, we like to think of it as the ultimate cooling enclosure. From the outside, it looks like any other cabinet, but it’s the patented thermal technology hidden inside that makes it so special. The key is the Lake Effect’s pressurized front plenum chamber, which lines the entire front panel of the enclosure top to bottom. It uses vanaxial fans, which were originally invented for use in the aerospace industry, to maintain a constant 65° temperature inside the front plenum. This keeps the ambient temperature of the entire enclosure at a safe level, and protects your equipment from the malfunctions that occur from overheating. The Lake Effect uses absolutely no liquid coolants and refrigerants, and doesn’t require any wall, ceiling, or raised-floor penetrations – just set it directly on the floor, and you’re ready to go.
Today we’ll be breaking new ground and taking a look at server racks… compact ones, that is. One of the best lines of small-scale server racks I know of is the SOHO series by Kendall Howard. If you have a small business with scaled-down network equipment that you’d like to mount inside an enclosure, then these are the racks for you.
Generally speaking, Kendall Howard’s products have great designs that are not only utilitarian, but aesthetically pleasing as well. And these little racks are no exception. Front and rear mesh doors don’t only give the cabinet a sleek look, but also provide tons of ventilation to keep your server equipment cool and running smoothly. To increase the cooling factor, Kendall Howard also pre-installs one of their Ultra Quiet Fans in each SOHO enclosure, which makes set up much easier on your end – just plug it in.
Considering that these server enclosures are only 8U (14 inches) and 12U (21 inches) tall (not including casters), they have a very impressive weight capacity: 400 lbs! Believe me, that’s far more than you’ll actually need. And speaking of the casters I just mentioned, I shouldn’t forget to tell you that this rack is mobile, which makes it perfect if you frequently move things around in your office, or ever need to transport equipment to and around a trade show facility.
To keep things secure, the rack’s doors are lockable, but they can be easily removed when you need fast access to the network components within. And compatibility isn’t an issue: just about any 19-inch rack accessory can be mounted inside a SOHO cabinet.
Filed under: Network Products, Server Racks and Enclosures
If you’re an IT professional who feels anxiety and tears welling up whenever you have to troubleshoot amidst the waterfalls of tangled patch cords hanging off your server, take heart. One of our favorite rack-mount cable managers, the Neat Patch, does away with network cable insanity and leaves you with rows of neatly ordered patch cords, none of which stick out beyond the edge of your server rack. I’ve seen the Neat Patch in action on our own servers, and the end results are really amazing. So what sets this cable manager apart from the rest?
To begin with, it does away with excess. The folks at Neat Patch had the epiphany that you don’t actually need 6 feet of cable to make a connection between patch panel ports that are only 1 foot apart! As a matter of fact, a 2-foot patch cable does the trick — not only does it achieve the connection, but leaves you with enough cable to form a single bend-radius-protecting loop, which is tucked into Neat Patch’s storage compartment, a recessed, rackmounted trough that’s installed between the two patch panels being connected.
But that’s not all. As a finishing touch, cover panels snap into place to cover the patch cord loops, and you’re left with beautifully organized, perfectly traceable connections — not to mention lower blood pressure.