Server Rack Wisdom

Hey friends, what are the principles you practice when you’re setting up a server rack, regardless of whether it’s a new install or a rearrangement?

Patch panels on top, then switches, routers, firewall, servers, then UPS. I’m big on organization, so I like the patch cords from the patch panels to the switches to align. That way if i’m having a wiring or connection issue it’s easy to trace back.

Is that what you were looking for?

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I tend to agree with Mark.

I would however add two thoughts, both of which seem obvious but in practice are frequently overlooked, in my experience. 1) UPS’ and Extended Battery Packs should reside at the very bottom of any rack. This helps stabilize the entire rack, especially if you install servers and storage below the relative center of gravity as well. 2) Always, ALWAYS install servers with the proper sliding rails and articulating cable guides behind them. It takes time and patience but without them, it’s almost impossible to troubleshoot and repair the servers (in context)! Sliding the server forward with all the connections intact is often vital. 'nuf said :nerd_face:

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I agree with all the earlier advice. Two additional notes:

  1. I like to intermingle switches and patch panels so as to not have patch cables spanning across one item to get to the next. Then use very short (6", 9" 1’) patch cables. Very easy to trace that way.
  2. From the experience of, um, “someone else.” ALWAYS zip-tie the power-cables to the back of the server for those times where you’re sliding the server forward. Amazingly, dual power supplies tend to both unplug at the same time.
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We also like to have access switches and patches intermixed. For closets with more than one switch we’ll place one switch, one 2u blank, two 48 port patches, one 2u blank, one switch. And repeat or divide based on needs. We like the extra space for moving around punches with out needing to flip around the patch.

We’ve also basically stopped using sliding rails. We have literally never had to fix a server while it was running.

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Ditto to intermingling patch panels and switches. We also use very short patch cables for ease of tracing and usually looks nice.
We still do sliding rails for installation/maintenance ease, but not the cable management arms.

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A few things I’d add to what others have mentioned:

1.) God created an orderly cosmos and thou shalt create an orderly rack… particularly thine cables.
2.) Have decent tools for the job like quality cable checkers, punches, electricians scissors/shears, etc.
3.) Have on hand velcro loops or cable ties depending on preference.
4.) Right size the rack, 90% of churches have fewer than 350 congregants and will absolutely never fill 12U, let alone 48U, hypervisors and the cloud pretty much guarantee that very few U’s will be utilized by churches in the future.
5.) Some switches have airflow characteristics that would cause you to rear mount them so be sure to check if they exhaust out the face or intake through the rear.
6.) Low center of gravity by placing the heaviest items on the bottom, it’s been said, but it bears repeating.

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