Design IT: Server Rack Layouts and Equipment Upgrades

Design IT: Server Rack Layouts and Equipment Upgrades

Posted by Rackmount Solutions on Jul 17th 2019

For small business owners with a single server rack cabinet and engineers running full data centers, there is one important piece to loading your server rack. You absolutely must plan it out before you begin. Without planning you are opening the door for a wide range of headaches in the future for your server rack equipment.

Fresh Start with a Fresh Server Room

Where do you start? The task can be overwhelming, but not if you follow the steps we’ve mapped out for you here.

Why is server room organization important?

Keeping the server room organized is a critical priority:

Less stress and better use of time: 

When everything is in its proper place, finding connections and performing maintenance is quicker and easier. That means fewer headaches and less wasted time.

Money savings: 

Keeping the area organized allows your cables, cords and other equipment to stay in good condition and last longer because there is less wear and tear on them. Cooling is more efficient and costs less. Also, setting up the equipment properly means less money wasted as a result of equipment overheating and becoming damaged. When equipment is secured, it is better protected from theft.

Safety and health: 

Orderly arrangement of the server room helps to alleviate overheating of equipment, which can create fire hazards. An area that is neat and where cables are secure can prevent accidents and injuries from happening as well. When cables are neatly organized, you can more efficiently clean and dust, so health is better protected.

Principles for keeping your server room in order

When managing your server room, follow a few key practices:

  1. Allow yourself plenty of time to assure a top-notch outcome. Organize the area during a time that is less busy so as to not interfere with regular work or introduce major inconveniences.
  2. Place heavier and hotter equipment, as well as highly loaded servers, UPSs and storage, on the bottoms of cabinets. KVM switches go in the middle. Network gear goes either in the middle or at the top, depending on issues such as cable configuration. Lightly loaded servers and storage go in the tops of cabinets.1
  3. Make sure you clearly and legibly label all items. Cables should be labeled on both ends. This habit helps not only you, but also any others who will be working in the area. Color-coding is also an excellent practice for keeping things in order.
  4. Recheck your server room frequently to assess temperature, air flow and equipment status.

Tackling the job with a plan and a list

Use a checklist to help ensure success.

1. Be sure you have enough accessories on hand. 

These include vertical or horizontal cable-management, screws of varying sizes, cable ties, cable hangers, shelves (in appropriate sizes and designs), and wire minders.

2. Select appropriate racks, and consolidate equipment if possible. 

As needed, customize aspects of the design, such as shelving, to meet your needs.

Consolidate as much of your equipment as you can to simplify access. Consider air flow and heat production/cooling when deciding where to place individual items.

Plan your equipment layout before you install or move pieces — and include in your plan some room for additions or changes that will happen either soon or down the road.

3. Create a system to manage wires and cables.

You can choose a vertical or horizontal arrangement within your rack, depending on what is most efficient, or external management. Ladder racks can prove extremely helpful. Ties are key accessories to keep your wires and cables from becoming disorganized and difficult to find. Remember to label everything thoroughly and legibly and label both ends of each cable.

Enjoy the sense of accomplishment as your server room transforms into an organized and efficient spot. What a great way to start the year!

What would YOU do? Send your best practices for server organization to We might just share your ideas in the next issue of Rackmount Solutions.

Server Rack Layout Design

“Prior planning prevents poor performance” and in the case of your server rack and data center design this couldn’t be more true. One of the most popular strategies is hot aisle / cold aisle containment, but many don’t understand the basic principles to achieve this effectively. The main goal is conserve energy, manage the air flow, and lower your overall costs for energy.

Server Rack Hot Aisle / Cold Aisle Design

Basically you want to line up your racks facing the same direction and then alternate directions on your next aisle so that exhausts from your server racks are pointing at each other creating a single “hot aisle”. The front side where the air is being pulled in from is your “cold aisle”, these would be positioned so that any air conditioning ducts are are pouring into the cold aisle. In a similar thought, your hot aisle would be facing towards the returns.

As these designs get more and more complex there are some incredible products that are helping to raise data center efficiency to previously uncharted levels. Upsite Technologies: AisleLok is at the forefront of this design. With modular containment, gap panels, under rack panels, sealing tape, and vertical baffles, Upsite has your entire Hot Aisle / Cold Aisle Containment planned out for an easy execution. Rackmount Solutions can help work with you to find all the appropriate parts to outfit your data center design and make sure that you are getting the maximum efficiency.

Get help with your data center layout!

If you need help deciding what the best design would be for your data center call 1-800-352-6631 or fill out the contact us form located below. We help customers with their designs and equipment selections every day.

Server Rack Equipment Layout


The first key is the layout, which we have covered. With the proper layout in place you can reduce cabling errors, assist airflow, ensure access to necessary equipment without problem, and simply protect yourself from multiple issues in the future. The basic template would state that the heaviest equipment goes on the bottom of the rack and the lighter towards the top. The helps with server rack stability as well as making the install a bit easier on yourself.

Plan for a deeper rack as well, this helps with cabling and ventilation for the equipment. In the long run you’ll be saving yourself a good amount of money through server rack layout efficiency.

Finally certainly consider the future. While you might have x amount of server rack equipment now, what will you most likely be adding soon? How does this effect the organization in the server rack? How does this effect the number of outlets you need, or network switches, or shelves? All of these items need to be considered for a proper server rack layout.

Best Efficiency Improvement for your Money!

With a smart layout of your data center it is important to update your equipment and have your space produce at its best efficiency

What types of data center equipment upgrades provide SMEs (Small and Midsized Enterprises) the greatest efficiency improvement opportunities for the money spent?

One of the most inexpensive upgrades an SME can make within their data centers is to invest in an appropriate and strategic rack/cabinet layout. When trying to pinpoint airflow inefficiencies, it’s easy to overlook some obvious culprits; excess, unused space in racks and improper (or even a complete lack of) cable management solutions, and a lack of a smart PDU often factor largely into these costly inefficiencies.

Unused Rack Space:

Populating racks to their fullest when paired with logical cooling systems (such as in-row cooling systems), is a reasonably priced way to improve airflow in the data center. This allows you to target cooling where needed, which pays dividends in the future as energy costs are reduced.

Cable Management:

Implementing thorough cable management will also improve efficiency; while it might be a pain to retrofit, this is one of the cheapest ways to streamline your data center.

Smart PDU:

If you’re not using smart PDU’s in your cabinets, you should be. 

Upfront costs for smart PDU’s are obviously higher than basic ones, however the advanced reporting solutions these systems offer will give you visibility into where you might be housing stranded power which, when utilized, will save you plenty of cash overtime to offset the cost of the PDU.

For a more advanced solution, upgrades to your electronics can provide a large impact as well. When it comes to your servers, UPSes, switches, etc., if you aren’t using up-to-date equipment, there’s a good chance they’re costing you money. Older equipment is inefficient and oftentimes not designed for today’s higher-density data center designs. Investing in new equipment will give you peace of mind, knowing that your equipment is energy efficient, and the smaller form factors will allow you to get more out of your real estate.

For additional answers about high density power, contact us at toll free 1-866-207-6631, email or visit us at