No office, system, enterprise, or store can function without a server. Our modern life is automated; computing equipment surrounds us everywhere. Yet, have you ever wondered where devices are stored? Special metal enclosures are used to fasten and house network hardware. Data centres and server rooms are created to cope with computing tasks.

Server racks are one of the most popular types of furniture for data centres. The modern market offers a wide range of products, from small server cabinet up to large models that are capable of accommodating hundreds of system components.

The industry has specific terminology. If you know the basic terms, you’ll quickly understand the meaning of all designations and specs. So, let’s look at the most common IT terms to know.

Terms of IT Industry to Understand Server Racks Better

  • U (unit) is a measure of height. 1U is equal to 1,75 inches. Usually, you can see 12U, 9U, and 48U in the names of server rack models. Such designations mean the rack height. To find out how tall furniture is in inches, one should multiply 12, 9, 48, etc. by 1,75.
  • 42U server rack is the most common floor-standing model. Its height is 73.5 inches. The option is very spacious and designed for housing large servers, PCs, and other passive and active hardware. It can hold up to 100 kg of equipment.
  • Server cabinets and racks. These are two common types of furniture used to accommodate computing hardware in data centres. Both of them use mounting rails to house devices. Yet, here are their principal differences.
  • Cabinets have solid enclosed bodies with walls and doors. Metal construction has all the slots and tech holes for fan installation, cable routing, etc. The main benefit of such models is a high level of equipment protection from damage or pollution. Due to enclosed bodies, they are ideal for installation in offices and crowded places.
  • Racks are open-frame constructions. Their designs imply 2 or 4 uprights with tech holes for attaching hardware. Furniture can be equipped with removable side panels, doors, and rails. Such models are perfectly ventilated by natural airflow and feature easy access to all system components and maintenance. Yet, they do not secure (or provide poor protection) due to open designs.
  • Wall-mount racks can be both enclosed and open-frame. These constructions are designed for fastening to vertical surfaces. Special high-load dowels are used to attach furniture to the wall. Yet, the loading capacity of such products is limited. Usually, the size of wall-mount products does not exceed 12U.
  • Desktop racks are small-sized models for home offices. Nowadays, many businessmen prefer to arrange home offices. Compact products will allow placing all the necessary equipment in a tiny home system.
  • A rack cooling system is a forced ventilation system in enclosed models. It implies installing fans to move the air to circulate within a confined space. Although the walls and doors of server furniture are perforated, it is not enough to cool down heated functioning hardware. Fans force the air to circulate, exchanging hot and cold air. The system also uses sensors that monitor the temperature inside the cabinet and maintain the required environmental conditions.
  • In open-frame models, forced ventilation is unnecessary since the natural airflow can freely pass through devices, cooling them down.
  • Fixed rails are built-in constructions used to put off shelves and access the needed device without disarranging an entire functioning unit. They stretch alongside side walls or connect vertical posts.
  • Blanking panels are extraordinary plastic or metal things used to plug empty holes. As mentioned above, cabinet enclosures have tech holes designed for wiring cables, fan installation, etc. Sometimes, systems administrators do not need all of them. Thus, some slots stay empty. Dust and other debris can penetrate the cabinet environment by them settling on equipment and polluting apparatus. This can result in the system overheating due to dust accumulation. Blanking panels are used to prevent hardware from pollution.
  • A KVM switch is a device that allows connecting one monitor, keyboard, and mouse to multiple PCs. It offers control of several computers at once and switches between them. The number of PCs depends on the capabilities of switches. In this case, system administrators do not need to have special software.
  • PDU is an abbreviation for a power distribution unit. Any system needs feeding. Server systems consume lots of power. Thus, they must be connected to the PDU that generates sufficient electricity to provide a server system.
  • Rack dimensions are its height, width, depth, and weight. Width and depth are usually standardised. The width can vary from 14 to 24 inches, but the most common is 19 inches. Most modern products are manufactured with a 19-inch width. The depth is an adjustable dimension; it can range from 0 to 50 inches due to the use of adjustable mounting rails.
  • Cable management is essential to system organisation since cords connect devices and PDU. Wires make different units work as a whole, single system. The cable management technology implies using accessories for routing cables and avoiding tangling, wire labelling, and colouring to easier identify needed cords, etc.
Here are basic notions that will help you get acquainted with the server administration world and better understand how it is organised. By keeping in mind these terms, you’ll be able to read articles on related topics and understand basic concepts.