Open Racks Versus Cabinets

By: CableOrganizer®

Making the decision on how exactly to house your expensive network equipment can be quite a challenge. It would hardly be a problem if looks were the only issue, but the fact of the matter is, there are a lot of other factors to be considered. The cooling, network security and space management capabilities of your chosen form of housing can affect everything from your network’s uptime to its ability to be expanded in the future.


Although cabinets are often thought to be the best approach for containing network equipment, they’re not always the optimal choice. Industry professionals cite cooling as being the most important issue in choosing between cabinets and open racks, since equipment needs heat drawn away from it and replaced by circulating air in the 70-72 degree range. This means that environment plays a huge role in the selection process, so the entire data center’s physical design and air-conditioning situation must be considered before a decision can reached.

There are two principal ways in which data centers provide cooling for their network equipment. The first method involves spreading out the heat-generating equipment to allow for air circulation, as well as ensuring that the entire room is maintained at an adequately cool temperature. This approach works well in facilities that do not have the type of raised floors which allow for airflow control, the ideal candidates for open-rack use.

On the other hand, we have the second cooling method, which is often employed in raised-floor facilities. In this case, all heat-producing network elements are closely grouped together, with cooling measures focused specifically on the smaller areas containing them. While this type of application doesn’t necessarily require cabinet use, cabinets are a good option. Just because most data centers fall within one or the other of these two parameters, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still room for deliberation when making your equipment-housing choice. There are after all, a few considerations aside from cooling.

Security can be an issue that weighs into the decision between open racks and cabinets. It goes without saying that racks just aren’t as secure as cabinets, which can have the ability to lock, plus come with options for alarms and coded access. However, in most data centers, security concerns are more likely to be addressed on a room-by-room — not a cabinet-by-cabinet — basis. Typically, the only situations that call for cabinet-based security occur in very large data centers, where given rooms may not be dedicated strictly to network equipment and therefore require smaller-scale restricted access.

open racks

Appearance can also be a deciding factor. In some cases, companies operate with a “you are what you wear” mentality. They opt for high-end cabinets, with the aim of presenting sophisticated and polished-looking data centers to customers and investors. Smaller, privately-owned businesses and institutions such as hospitals and schools are less likely to be concerned with aesthetics, as far as their network equipment housing methods are concerned. In these situations, functionality rules and it is often far more practical to employ open racks. These provide ease of access should network equipment require servicing.

Finally, economy can influence your choice of network equipment housing. In more basic applications, it can make perfect sense to take the economical route and go with an uncomplicated open rack. After all, why go crazy with the housing equipment when you don’t have to? On the other hand, in cases which require higher levels of quality and protection, cost-cutting isn’t so much of a concern.

CableOrganizer® offers many different options for network server housing in a wide variety of styles and price ranges. Let us help you find just the right solution to keep and protect your valuable equipment.

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