Black Box Explains...Cable management.
Corporate networks are complex systems of PCs, servers, printers, and the devices that connect them. Getting everything to work in harmony requires bundles of cables, and managing all those cables... more/see it nowfrom inside a telecommunications closet can be a daunting task. To connect cable bundles to rackmounted equipment (like patch panels, hubs, switches, or routers), you need to direct the bundles overhead, vertically, and horizontally.
A popular choice for overhead cable routing is a ladder rack. Ladder racks come in many varieties. They can run along a wall supported by brackets or they can be installed overhead and supported by a threaded rod. Ladder racks can support large cable bundles neatly and safely. Because bundles lie flat on a ladder rack, cables aren’t subjected to harsh bends. You can run ladder racks directly to the top of most standard telecommunications racks that conform to TIA/EIA standards.
Use vertical cable managers to route cable bundles along the sides of a rack. These “cable troughs” as they’re sometimes called can be single sided—or double sided to route cable bundles to the rear of equipment and to the ports on the front as well. Vertical cable managers usually come with some type of protection for the cable, such as grommeted holes to protect the cable jacket or a cover that may clip on or act as a door.
Horizontal cable managers are usually a series of rings that directs cables in an orderly fashion toward the ports of hubs, switches, and patch panels. collapse
Black Box Explains…Remote monitoring.
Beyond virus protection.
It has become almost automatic to protect your data center by backing up your servers, installing firewalls and virus protection, and keeping the protection up-to-date.
But what about... more/see it nowmore tangible threats? Do you have hot spots in your racks? If the cooling system shuts down, how will you know when temperatures climb out of control? Are you
alerted to humidity changes or water leaks
that threaten your equipment?
Planning for the unexpected is a critical task because there are more systems performing mission-critical functions than ever before. These systems are often deployed without the proper environmental infrastructure to support them. Equipment density is increasing constantly, which is creating more stress on ventilation and power.
The top three IT risks:
1. Environmental disruption.
The number one cause of downtime for remote locations, environmental problems go beyond fires and floods and affect as much as 30% of a company’s mission-critical infrastructure. Cooling and power are key points of exposure and increase as equipment density does.
2. Unnecessary risk.
When systems are housed in less-than-optimal settings, or are in remote and unsupervised locations, any error causes downtime. Yet, it’s not practical to have someone babysitting the servers.
Regardless of the probability, terrorism is
now something each of us must plan for. Your systems can also be brought down from within if the proper security safeguards are not in place.
What’s an environmental
Environmental monitoring products enable you to actively monitor the conditions in your rack, server room, data center, or anywhere else you need to protect critical assets. Conditions
monitored include extreme temperatures, humidity, power spikes and surges, water leaks, smoke,
and chemical materials. With proper environmental monitoring, you’re alerted to any conditions that could have an adverse effect on your mission-critical equipment. These products can also
alert you to potential damage from human error, hacking, or prying fingers.
Environmental monitors consist of three main elements: a base unit, probes or sensors, and
network connectivity and integration. The base units may contain one or more built-in sensors,
as well as ports for hooking up external probes. Additionally, they include an Ethernet port and have software for remote configuration and graphing. This software may also work with
existing network management software,
such as SNMP systems.
An environmental monitoring appliance
displays the values measured by the attached probes, e.g. temperature, humidity, airflow,
status of dry contact, door, motion detector,
and other sensors.
Data collecting and graphing.
Measurements are periodically stored in the internal memory or external storage media and displayed as graphs.
When the measured value exceeds the
predefined threshold, it triggers an alert: a blinking LED on the front panel, an audible alarm, SNMP trap, e-mail, etc. The environmental monitoring appliance can also activate an external alarm
system like a siren or strobe light.
Benefits of environmental monitoring:
Reduced downtime—When things go wrong, you’re the first to know. Minimize downtime by being alerted about conditions that cause damage to servers and other network devices.
Increased profits—Environmental monitoring systems are easy to implement. Also, they help you cut replacement equipment costs and redistribute your workforce more effectively.
Increased employee satisfaction—With built-in notification features like e-mail, SMS, and SNMP traps, a remote monitoring system enables employees to better manage their work.
Envornmental and security monitoring systems can be used for a variety of applications, including:
Data center monitoring
Computer room monitoring
Rackmount industrial equipment
Food and beverage applications
Air conditioner/refrigerants/freezer monitoring
Black Box Explains...Fiber connectors.
• The ST® connector, which uses a bayonet locking system, is the most common connector.
• The SC connector features a molded body and a push- pull locking system.
• The FDDI... more/see it nowconnector comes with a 2.5-mm free-floating ferrule and a fixed shroud to minimize light loss.
• The MT-RJ connector, a small-form RJ-style connector, features a molded body and uses cleave-and-leave splicing.
• The LC connector, a small-form factor connector, features a ceramic ferrule and looks like a mini SC connector.
• The VF-45™connector is another small-form factor connector. It uses a unique V-groove design.
• The FC connector is a threaded body connector. Secure it by screwing the connector body to the mating threads. Used in high-vibration environments.
• The MTO/MTP connector is a fiber connector that uses high-fiber-count ribbon cable. Its used in high-density fiber applications.
• The MU connector resembles the larger SC connector. It uses a simple push-pull latching connection and is well suited for high-density applications.
A dry contact, also called a volt-free contact, is a relay contact that does not supply voltage. The relay energizes or de-energizes when a change to its input has occurred.... more/see it nowIn other words, a dry contact simply detects whether or not an input switch is open or closed.
The dry contacts in the ServSensor Contact provide a simple two-wire interface that can be easily adapted to third-party sensors and devices. Because you define what the open or closed condition means, dry contacts are infinitely adaptable.
Use dry contacts to monitor alarms such as fire alarms, burglar alarms, and alarms on power systems such as UPSs. A very common use for dry contacts is to detect whether a cabinet door is open or closed.
Find the right screw length for your cabinet or rack.
Types of Screws
There are two basic kinds of screws used for cabinets and racks—panhead screws and countersunk screws—and... more/see it nowthey’re measured in two different ways. Because the standard way to measure is from the tip of the business end of the screw to where the screw rests on the material it’s fastened to, a panhead screw is measured to the bottom of its head, whereas a countersunk screw is measured to the top of its head.
Black Box Explains...10-32, 12-24, and M6 rails.
The rails on cabinets and racks typically come with one of three mounting options: 10-32, 12-24, or M6.
The 10-32 and 12-24 options are round holes found on drilled and tapped... more/see it nowrails. You’ll find 10-32 openings on cabinets, while 12-24 holes are more commonly found on relay racks and frames. However, exceptions do exist. It’s very important to find out which type of mounting option your equipment requires before you order a cabinet or rack.
M6 holes are square, rather than round. M6 rails were developed to hold rackmount equipment, and you will find them on most server cabinets.
What makes M6 rails so popular on server cabinets? They’re adaptable. With just one cage nut, you can change a square hole into a round one. That gives you much more versatility in your equipment and mounting choices.
If you have a wide array of equipment, such as rackmount servers, hubs, routers, and patch panels, your best bet is a cabinet with M6 rails. It will accommodate the rackmount servers, and the other equipment can be mounted on those same rails using cage nuts.
If you’re unsure what type of cabinet, rack, or frame is best for your application, contact the experts at Black Box Tech Support. They’ll be glad to help you find the right enclosure for your equipment. collapse
Black Box Explains...Choosing a cabinet.
Understanding cabinet and rack measurements.
The main component of a cabinet is a set of vertical rails with mounting holes to which you attach your equipment or shelves. When you consider... more/see it nowthe width or height of a cabinet, clarify whether the dimensions are inside or outside.
The first measurement you need to know is the width of the rails. The most common size is 19 inches with hole-to-hole centers measuring 18.3 inches. There are also 23-inch and 24-inch cabinets and racks. Most rackmount equipment is made to fit 19-inch rails but can be adapted for wider rails.
After width, the most important specification is the number of rack units, abbreviated as “U.” It’s a measurement of space available to mount equipment. Because cabinet width is standard, the amount of space is what determines how much equipment you can actually install. Remember, this is an internal measurement of usable space and is smaller than an external measure of the cabinet or rack.
One rack unit (1U) is 1.75 inches of usable space and is usually, but not always, measured vertically. So, for example, a rackmount device that’s 2U high takes up 3.5 inches of rack space. A rack that’s 20U high has 35 inches of usable space.
Choosing the right cabinet.
Here’s a quick checklist of features to keep in mind before you choose a cabinet for servers or other network devices:
• High-volume airflow.
• Adjustable rails.
• Rails with M6 square holes.
• Moisture and dust resistance.
• Air filters.
• Front and/or rear accessibility.
• Locking doors.
• Left- or right-hinging doors.
• Power strips and cable organizers.
• Interior lighting.
• Availability of optional shelves, fans, and casters.
• Cable management rails, space, and knockouts.
• Extra depth to accommodate newer, deeper servers.
Don’t forget to accessorize.
Even if your cabinet is in a climate-controlled room, you may need to add a fan panel to help keep your equipment from overheating. It’s especially important to have ventilation in an enclosed cabinet.
Rackmount power strips mount either vertically or horizontally. Some have widely spaced outlets to accommodate transformer blocks. Some power strips include surge protection.
Mission-critical equipment should be connected to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS keeps your equipment from crashing during a brief blackout or brownout and provides you with enough time to shut down everything properly in a more extended power outage.
For accessories that make cabling easier, just take a look at our many cable management products. We have cable management guides, rackmount raceways, horizontal and vertical organizers, cable managers, cable hangers, and much more. collapse
Black Box Explains...The fully accessorized rack.
After you choose your rack, consider how youll set it up and what accessories you might need.
Your rack may need to be secured. A typical rack has about a... more/see it now15"-deep base, providing some stability, but not enough to prevent the rack from tipping if heavy objects are mounted on it. To solve this problem, most rack bases can be bolted to the floor.
You also need to decide how to accommodate standalone equipment, which is not actually rackmounted or bolted to the rack. You can place small devices on a cantilevered shelf such as the RM001, however, you should place heavier items such as monitors on a center-weight shelf such as the RM377.
Small extras, such as Patch Panel Hinge Kits, can make your job easier. These hinges enable you to access the back of a patch panel simply by swinging it out from the rack. Theyre particularly useful for racks in hard-to-reach areas.
If you need to mount both 19" and 23" equipment in the same rack, use a 23" rack with 23"-to-19" Rackmount Adapters to fit the 19" devices.
For a neater appearance, you can cover unused spaces in a rack with Filler Panels.
Cable management is also an important consideration. Our Horizontal and Vertical Cable Managers help you to route cables along the sides of racks, between racks, and to the rackmounted equipment. collapse
Black Box Explains…Liquid cooling.
The trend toward high-density installations with higher-powered CPUs has made heat a critical issue in data centers. Blade servers present a special challenge—a rack of blade servers can dissipate more... more/see it nowthan 25 kW, generating more heat than an electric oven.
The heat generated in today’s high-density data centers can shorten equipment lifespan, negatively affect equipment performance, and cause downtime.
Traditional air-cooling methods such as hot/cold aisle arrangements simply can’t keep up with these heat-generating installations. Data center managers often try to compensate for the inefficiency of air cooling by under-populating racks, but this wastes space—an often scarce commodity in modern data centers.
Because of the inherent inefficiencies of air cooling, many data centers have turned to liquid cooling through water or other refrigerants. Liquids have far greater heat transfer properties than air—water is 3400 times more efficient than air—and can cool far greater equipment densities.
Liquid cooling is usually done at the rack level using the airflow from the servers to move the heat to a cooling unit where it’s removed by liquid, neutralizing heat at the source before it enters the room. Liquid cooling may also be done at the component level, where cooling liquid is delivered directly to individual components. Liquid cooling may also arrive in the form of portable units for cooling hot spots.
Liquid cooling options
Types of liquid cooling commonly used in data centers include:
- Cabinet-door liquid cooling: With this method, cooling units are special cabinet doors that contain sealed tubes filled with chilled liquid. The liquid is circulated through the door to remove heat vented by equipment fans. Because liquid-cooled doors can replace standard cabinet doors, they’re the favored method for retrofitting liquid cooling into existing data centers.
- Integrated liquid cooling: This consists of a specialized sealed cabinet that has channels for liquid cooling built into it to act as heat exchangers. Fans move hot air past the heat exchangers before sending the cooled air back to the servers. These cabinets are closed systems that release very little heat into the room.
- Component-based liquid cooling: Some servers are preconfigured with integrated liquid-based cooling modules. After the servers are installed, liquid is circulated through the cooling modules.
- Immersion cooling: This rather counterintuitive cooling method immerses servers in a non-conductive liquid, which is circulated to cool the servers.
- Portable liquid cooling: These are small units that operate by blowing air across water-cooled coils. They can usually accept water from any source—including a nearby faucet. They’re generally plumbed with ordinary garden hoses and require no special skills to use. Portable cooling units are intended for emergency cooling rather than as a permanent solution.
Liquid cooling requires a shift in the way you think about cooling. Installation may require that you acquire a new skill set or hire a professional installer. However, the space savings and cost savings gained through liquid cooling more than make up for the inconvenience of installing a new cooling technology.
Not only does liquid cooling enable data centers to operate at far greater densities than conventional air cooling does, it gets rid of the infrastructure associated with air cooling, enabling you to eliminate hot/cold aisles and raised floors. Liquid cooling can support from 25 to 80% more equipment in the same footprint, resulting in significantly lower infrastructure costs.
Add to this the fact that cooling is often the majority of a data center’s operating cost, and it’s plain to see why an investment in the efficiency of liquid cooling goes right to the bottom line.
Black Box Explains…How to keep cabinets cool.
Networking equipment—especially servers—generates a lot of heat in a relatively small area. Today’s servers are smaller and have faster CPUs than ever. Because most of the power used by these... more/see it nowdevices is dissipated into the air as heat, they can really strain the cooling capacity of your data center. The components housed in a medium-sized data center can easily generate enough heat to heat a house in the dead of winter!
So cool you must, because when network components become hot, they're prone to failure and a shortened lifespan.
Damage caused by heat is not always immediately evident as a catastrophic meltdown—signs of heat damage include node crashes and hardware failures that can happen over a period of weeks or even months, leading to chronic downtime.
Computer rooms generally have special equipment such as high-capacity air conditioning and raised-floor cooling systems to meet their high cooling requirements. However, it's also important to ensure that individual cabinets used for network equipment provide adequate ventilation. Even if your data center is cool, the inside of a cabinet may overheat if air distribution is inadequate. Just cranking up the air conditioning is not the solution.
The temperature inside a cabinet is affected by many variables, including door perforations, cabinet size, and the types of components housed within the cabinet.
The most direct way to cool network equipment is to ensure adequate airflow. The goal is to ensure that every server, every router, every switch has the necessary amount of air no matter how high or low it is in the cabinet.
It takes a certain volume of air to cool a device to within its ideal temperature range. Equipment manufacturers provide very little guidance about how to do this; however, there are some very basic methods you can use to maximize the ventilation within your cabinets.
Open it up.
Most major server manufacturers recommend that the front and back cabinet doors have at least 63% open area for airflow. You can achieve this by either removing cabinet doors altogether or by buying cabinets that have perforated doors.
Because most servers, as well as other network devices, are equipped with internal fans, open or perforated doors may be the only ventilation you need as long as your data center has enough air conditioning to dissipate the heat load.
You may also want to choose cabinets with side panels to keep the air within each cabinet from mixing with hot air from an adjacent cabinet.
Don't overload the cabinet by trying to fit in too many servers—75% to 80% of capacity is about right. Leave at least 1U of space between rows of servers for front-to-back ventilation. Maintain at least a 1.5" clearance between equipment and the front and back of the cabinet. And finally, ensure all unused rack space is closed off with blank panels to prevent recirculation of warm air.
Fans and fan placement.
You can increase ventilation even more by installing fans to actively circulate air through cabinets. The most common cabinet fans are top-mounted fan panels that pull air from the bottom of the cabinet or through the doors. For spot cooling, use a fan or fan panel that mounts inside the cabinet.
For very tightly-packed cabinets, choose an enclosure blower—a specialized high-speed fan that mounts in the bottom of the cabinet to pull a column of cool air from the floor across the front of your servers or other equipment. An enclosure blower requires a solid or partially vented front door with adequate space—usually at least 4 inches—between the front of your equipment and the cabinet door for air movement.
When using fans to cool a cabinet, keep in mind that cooling the outside of a component doesn't necessarily cool its inside. The idea is to be sure that the air circulates where your equipment's air intake is. Also, beware of installing fans within the cabinets that work against the small fans in your equipment and overwhelm them.
To ensure that your components are operating within their approved temperature range, it’s important to monitor conditions within your cabinets.
The most direct method to monitor cabinet temperature is to put a thermometer into your cabinet and check it regularly. This simple and inexpensive method can work well for for small installations, but it does have its drawbacks—a cabinet thermometer can’t tell you what the temperature inside individual components is, it can’t raise the alarm if the temperature goes out of range, and it must be checked manually.
Another simple and inexpensive addition to a cabinet is a thermostat that automatically turns on a fan when the cabinet's temperature exceeds a predetermined limit.
Many network devices come with SNMP or IP-addressable internal temperature sensors to tell you what the internal temperature of the component is. This is the preferred temperature monitoring method because these sensors are inside your components where the temperature really counts. Plus you can monitor them from your desktop—they’ll send you an alert if there’s a problem.
There are also cabinet temperature sensors that can alert you over your network. These sensors are often built into another device such as a PDA but only monitor cabinet temperature, not the temperature inside individual devices. However, these sensors can be a valuable addition to your cooling plan, especially for older devices that don't have internal sensors.
The future of cabinet cooling.
Very high-density data centers filled with blade servers present an extreme cooling challenge, causing some IT managers to resort to liquid-cooled cabinets. They’re still fairly new and tend to make IT managers nervous at the prospect of liquids near electronics, but their high efficiency makes it likely that these liquid-cooled systems will become more prevalent.
It’s easy, really.
Keeping your data and server cabinets cool doesn't have to be complicated. Just remember not to overcrowd the cabinets, be sure to provide adequate ventilation, and always monitor conditions within your cabinets.