Technology Tips

Enclosed Rack vs Open Frame Rack: the Pros and Cons of each

Judging by product construction, all furniture for data centers is divided into two large groups. These are open-frame designs and enclosed metal boxes. Below, let’s find out the main features and benefits of each model.

Open-Frame Racks

These are server furniture with 2 or 4 posts and without walls. Technological holes are made in posts for hardware fastening. The size of racks differ with their depth and width are standardized, and height ranges from small 2-4U models up to 40U products. All sorts of active apparatus are housed there.

Pros of the Rack

The regarded kind of furniture has the following benefits:

  1. Airflow and cooling. This is one of the main benefits of the regarded type of manufactured products. Because side walls are absent, nothing stops natural airflow from passing through the rack body cooling operating equipment and maintaining optimal working conditions.
  2. Easy access.  Accessibility is much easier than in enclosed cabinets, which significantly simplifies hardware maintenance and device installation on sliding shelves.
  3. Price. An open-frame server rack is more affordable than enclosures since fewer materials are required for their production.
  4. Easy assembly and transportation. An open frame rack server is packed very compactly and can be installed in a few minutes.

Cons of the Model

  1. Due to an open design, dust and other debris from the environment, dust settles on the walls of hardware, covering technological holes and increasing the risk of fire and overheating. If fans are used, then dust can slow down their speed.
  2. Cabling management. Such goods don’t have special technological holes for cable routing, cables can get tangled up, which hardens maintenance works and problem identifying.
  3. Place of installation. The regarded models can’t provide a sufficient level of hardware protection from unauthorized use. Thus, this kind of furniture is not suitable for mounting in public places.

Enclosed Racks

An enclosed server rack is characterized by having a sturdy metal body with 4 side walls (in most cases they are removable) and perforated doors. Latches and locks are used to keep accommodated devices secure. These are large boxes, the size of which may reach 44U in height.

Pros of the Cabinet

Although enclosed furniture reduces flexibility, it has the following advantages:

  1. Security. Due to a closed design and latches, models are considered more secure and are suitable for installation in public locations. Closed designs reliably protect apparatus from unauthorized access and all sorts of accidental damages.
  2. Airflow control is organized with the use of fans, sensors, and other tools that provide forced air circulation. Perforated doors are used to let natural air enter the cabinet somehow.
  3. Cables are hidden and managed. Special technological holes for cable routing are provided. This prevents wires from getting confused and keeps them in order, simplifying maintenance.
  4. An enclosed server cabinet can be both floor-standing and wall-mounted. The second type of furniture is fastened to vertical surfaces with special dowels freeing floor space and providing better room ergonomics.

Cons of the Cabinet

  1. Price. Enclosed cabinets are more expensive since more material is used for their manufacturing.
  2. Moving. Such cabinets are rather heavy, which makes them difficult to be transported.
  3. Restricted access. Only a limited circle of system administrators have access to closed boxes.

Open-Frame VS Enclosed Models

Both products are produced from high-quality metal that guarantees body rigidity and reliable equipment storage. In most cases, all cabinets and racks are equipped with casters to make furniture easily portable and simplify relocation.

As for the main differences, they include security and cooling. While open racks are less secure, they are more advanced for natural cooling. For enclosed furniture, vice versa, cooling and maintenance have worse indicators, while hardware protection is more enhanced. Moreover, enclosed boxes can be attached to walls.


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