Populating my new server room

So our server room is now finished and I’m looking to buy and load up server racks.

The server room is 11’ 2" front to back, 12’ 6" side to side, and 8’ 9" floor to ceiling.

I should be able to have 4’ in the front of the rack and 3’ in the back of the rack.

I have 2 split package AC units that blow on the front of the servers which are 1’ deep and above head level. All of the lights are 2.5" at their thickest point.

Here’s what I have physically in terms of racks that aren’t in use yet:

1 x 24U 2-post communications rack
1 x 36U 4-post server rack with vertical cable management that hangs off the back.

Here’s a rough equipment list:

6 x 2U servers
3 x 4U storage arrays
2 x 6U worth of Eaton battery backup gear
2U of copper patch panels that go to other parts of the building
3U of fiber patch panels that go to other buildings
4U core switch
1U firewall
1U edge switch

I’m thinking of sticking with my tiny 24U 2post rack for now for communications/patch panels and 2 of these racks for servers:

The back of the racks face the door, so I’ll want to put a lot of thought into cable management and layout.


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Never install a rack that is smaller than the largest you can fit in the allotted cubic footage.

Racks have a way of living in a space until the buildings die. Seeing as you don’t know what is happening between now and the buildings death, you want to give yourself every fighting chance of not moving this room again.

In a room like what you are describing, I would likely tend to install 3x 4 post enclosed and gang-able 48U racks. There is a good chance I would even make them 30" wide units and justify them to one wall in order to get extra cable dressing space.

If you can, put up a picture of the room floorplan, and a picture of two if you have it.

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Basic floorplan:

Looking in through the door:

Looking from the top-right corner to the bottom left corner in the floorplan:

Budget-wise I’ve planned the room to be ready for new racks, but don’t have the money to get everything at once.

I’m going to pull all of the cable slack out of the server room when I have the racks positioned (I have about 7’ of light-storage above the server room and have wall-mounted J-hooks for strain relief), and I’m planning on putting wire basket along the left wall on the floorplan to get cable from the ceiling access to racks.

Thoughts? Should the server racks be along the wall and the comm rack at the end?

Whatever I do, I’m going to be significantly happier than I am with my current setup (2 racks of equipment that were in my office with me), but because the door faces the back of the servers I’d love to make it so nice that when people walk in they admire the cable management and layout. :slight_smile:

Ben’s personal opinion:

Like @iamkarlp, @codatory, and @CGreenTX said here and on Slack, I would definitely get the tallest rack you can fit.

Other thoughts:

  • Definitely look into 30" width racks. I love our fully enclosed (doors on the front and back) 30" width racks. APC brand with vertical cable management and PDUs.
  • I could go either way about starting the racks flush against the far wall from the door or leaving 2.5-3 feet. Both have their advantages.
  • Personally, I would have my electrician run the circuits directly into the rack rather than plugging in the UPS across the gap that you will be using to walk and work in. Granted, I’m pretty clumsy. At a previous job I tripped on the UPS power cables in a similar setup more than once :slight_smile:
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Yup, my current setup has the power behind the gap in the racks but for various reasons this was how the power had to be run for this space on this project.

I’m thinking of getting a patch of 4" raised flooring for behind the servers to accommodate.

I really appreciate all of the advice. I may not be able to follow all of it due to cost, but I am absolutely listening and learning from this thread to make sure we don’t skimp on something I’ll regret years down the road!

It looks good. Ours is real similar. I’ll see if I can get some pictures and a print uploaded. The thing that stands out to me the most is the placement of the power in your room. Will you be just running extension cords across the floor to the wall? I would have put the power in the ceiling or against the wall next to your telco rack. That way you could run the power through the cabinets if you needed too. We also put some ladder rack in above the racks. We built our room big enough to fit two more racks beyond the three we put in. Over the years with virtualization, we have shrunk things down to about 2 racks worth of stuff and I don’t see us ever adding those other racks. But our server room only has servers patched in and backbone runs from other closets so we only have a single 48port patch panel.

Also double check fire code. I know in Indiana permanently installed extension cords are not permitted, so you’d need some contortions to comply with needing to bridge such a gap. At the data center I worked at we put all the power drops in the bottom of the rack since you can’t put much else on the floor useful but that was on raised flooring so no water issues.

I agree that the power location is my only regret on the entire project. The benefit of not placing them on the side wall is being able to add 2 more racks at the end and still have power cords reach the outlet (we won’t be using any form of extension cords).

I wish we had run them in the ceiling, but there isn’t much I can do about that now. :disappointed:

my plan is to add a raised floor between server rack and wall and run the power cables under that, and adding wire ladder above the racks to run network cables above.

For the back, I’m curious about PDUs, power strips, etc.

We have 2 x Eaton 5PC3000RTN units each with an extended battery module.

My current plan is to put 4 vertically mounted 8-outlet 20A power strips on the back of each rack.

Out of those 4, 2 will be plugged into one battery backup and 2 will be plugged into the other. That way each server with redundant PSUs will have one plugged into one battery backup and one plugged into another.

My UPS has 2 different groups, so I’d have Group 1 for each UPS be one rack and Group 2 for each UPS supply the other rack, so I can easily see how much power each rack is drawing.

I can always add more battery backup in the future if needed, but I believe this will be sufficient for what I have based on current usage.

I’ve looked into PDUs, but they are significantly more expensive than simply plugging a vertically mounted power strip into the UPS, and the only discernable difference is the current monitoring built in, which I can pull from my Eaton gear.

Thoughts? Recommendations?

I’m only getting 4 per rack so in the future if I add battery backups I can split the load across more units as opposed to getting 2 per rack that have double the outlet capacity.