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Open Frame Equipment Racks

November 16th, 2010

Open frame server racks function very similar to Rack Enclosures but without doors or side panels. The benefits of open frame, equipment racks are largely economical. The cost is typically less than half that of a fully enclosed rackmount Equipment Rackcabinet.

The main benefits of open frame racks are:

  • low cost
  • easy access to cabling
  • unrestricted airflow optimizes cooling
  • ease of installation
  • shipping costs are less

The main disadvantages to open frame racks are:

  • lack of security
  • cosmetic – enclosed racks have a cleaner look

Open frame racks can be coupled together with a simple, inexpensive, baying kit, making them ideal for data centers. The cable management on an open frame, equipment rack is very simple. A vertical, cable management bar is typically included and provides an innovative and simple means of routing any type of cables.

Open frame racks typically have a fixed mounting depth. The most common depth is 29″ which is compatible with modern equipment from all OEMs. The equipment racks usually have square mounting holes and use cage nuts.

Open frame racks come in several sizes:

Most recently, a 55U open frame rack has become available.

Here’s an example of what the rear of an open frame rack, filled with servers and equipment, might look like.
This one is shown coupled together with a second open frame rack.

Here’s a great example of three open frame racks bayed together in a server room.

Links to More Information:

Dell R410 Rail Kit Overview and Installation Options

June 21st, 2010

The Dell R410 Rail Kit uses the new Ready Rail design.  This design is is compatible with square hole racks as well as clearance hole racks.  Clearance hole racks have a non-threaded, 0.25″ round hole.  The attachment of the rail to the rack is on the front mounting surface instead of the the rear which has been the typical attachment method of Dell rails in the past.

The Dell R410 Ready Rails can be installed in a threaded hole rack using the RackSolutions adapter kit, P/N: 1UKIT-R4.  This adapter kit has a small bracket that is attached to the front of the rack.  This adapter bracket converts the round holes to square holes.  The rear section of the rail is replaced by a section that is compatible with round holes.  This kit slightly changes the over all installation depth of the server by moving the front attachment forward 7/8″.

Mounting Depth
Dell Ready Rail 26 7/16″ to 35 5/16″
Dell Ready Rail with RS adapter kit 26 7/16″ to 35 5/16″
Dell Static Rail – 4Post Square Hole 23 1/8″ to 32 1/2″
Dell Static Rail – 4Post Round Hole 23 3/16″ to 33 5/16″
Dell Static Rail – 2Post Centermount 3″ to 6″
Dell Static Rail – 2Post Flushmount 3″ to 6″
RackSolutions Rail – 4Post any hole type 13″ to 31 1/2″
RackSolutions Rail – 2Post Centermount 2″ to 8″
RackSolutions Rail – 2Post Flushmount 2″ to 8″

The Dell static rail available when the Ready Rails are incompatible or in 2Post installations.  Please review the following article which provides additional information on the Dell Static Rails.

RackSolutions offers a 3rd party rail kit, P/N: 1UBRK-R4 for 4Post installations where there is some type of obstruction issue.  This rail kit is also compatible with 2Post installations as well.    This rail kit captivates the mounting lugs on the side of the server chassis preventing any movement of the chassis itself.  This rail kit can be used in transport applications where the Dell rails may not be compatible with the shock isolated racks.

Dell Static Rails

May 24th, 2010

Some of the Dell 11g servers have a static rail available for installations where the standard Ready Rails are incompatible or for use in 2Post installations.  This Dell rail kit is configurable depending upon what type of rack is used.  Section A of the rail kit is an assembly that has the new Ready Rail mounting pins for use in square hole racks as well as a set of clearance holes for use in any type of rack.  This mechanism is similar to the previous generation of Dell Rail Kits in that the mechanism rotates to allow for the use of both types of attachment methods.  The difference in this mechanism is that it must be unscrewed compared to the previous generation rail kit that used a locking lever.  The previous generation rail kit also had PEM nuts instead of clearance holes.  Section B is the primary support bracket for 2Post centermount applications.  This support bracket is riveted directly to the main rail frame and uses clearance holes as the attachment method.  Section C is an adjustable bracket with a range of: 3″ to 6″.  This bracket is used for 2Post flushmount configurations.  These brackets can be removed if the front assembly is removed first, however they cannot be reversed.  These brackets have clearance holes for use in any type of mounting interface.  Section D is a 13 7/16″ bracket that is similar to Section A having both the Ready Rail mounting pins on one end and clearance holes on the other end.  This bracket is reversable to allow the use of both attachment methods.  In 2Post centermount installations the clearance holes are used in conjunction with section B.  This allows the rail to be installed in 2Post racks with center channels ranging in size from: 3″ to 10 1/16″.  In 4Post installations this bracket is configured based on the mounting interface.  The Ready Rail mounting pins are used in square hole racks, the clearance holes are used for any type of rack.  In 4Post installations this bracket allows the rail to to be installed in a range of: 23″ to 32 9/16″ using the Ready Rail mounting pins and 23 1/4″ to 33 5/16″ using the clearance holes.

The Dell static rail is susceptible to obstructions in 4Post racks in all 4 sections shown in the photo.  4Post racks with mounting post that are not a simple “L” shape will have the highest potential of causing an obstruction with Section A.  If an obstruction occurs with Section C then the bracket can simply be removed.  Obstructions caused by Section B will be difficult to resolve due to the permanent attachment of the support bracket.  Obstructions in this area will more than likely effect Section D as well and will be equally difficult to resolve.  In situations where unresolvable obstructions are preventing the proper installation of this rail kit the recommended solution is to use a 3rd Party Rail kit, P/N: 1UBRK-R4.  This rail kit is far less likely to have the obstruction issues that the Dell Rail kit is vulnerable to.

Dell Static Rail

Open Frame Racks

May 19th, 2010

RackSolutions utilizes open frame racks for its own internal use.  In fact, they happen to be the racks RackSolutions designs and manufactures at its facility, P/N: RACK-111.  In the photo you can see we have a pair of flushmount monitors, P/N: 7U-RACKMON.  These flushmount monitors provide a very clean professional look and are compatible with the Dell E176FP flat panel monitor.  Below the monitor on the left is a rackmount drawer, P/N: 4UDRAWER-162. If there is one product that will be indispensable in a rack, the rackmount drawers are it.  Under each monitor, there is a small slide out keyboard, P/N: 1UKYB-126.  These are very economical keyboards with a handy storage bin behind the keyboard itself.   Notice the large, tool-less filler panels in the center rack, P/N: 102-1481.  If there is one thing that can be done to prevent cooling issues, even in an open frame rack, it’s using filler panels to eliminate the mixing of hot and cold air.  On the far right of the photo is a Vertical Cable Organizer.  This cable management bar comes standard on the rack and can be mounted on the front or rear, wherever cables need to be managed.

The rack on the far right has all the networking equipment as well as the phone system.  Using a 4Post rack works ok for this type of equipment, but the large amount of cabling can be managed more efficiently using a 2post rack, P/N: pieces of equipment. However, in our racks we use it for the smaller, peripheral equipment.  Notice in the top of the rack on the right.  There are numerous, small, peripheral types of equipment all mounted on a sliding shelf.  There is also a sliding shelf installed in the center rack that is used just as a pull-out work space.

Another product that is used extensively in our racks but not very apparent in this photo is the tool-less fixed rail, P/N: 2UKIT-109-QR.  These rails take longer to get out of the box than they do to install in the rack.  They will mount any type of rackmount server.  These rails allow the server to be quickly installed or removed from the rack.  They are not slide rails. Therefore, the server must be supported when removing the rails from the rack.  There are numerous advantages to using this type of rail; it will mount your legacy servers that don’t have rails.  It will mount your current servers without your having to purchase the expensive OEM rails.  It will mount the next servers that you upgrade to without your having to ever buy another set of rails.  If you consider that OEM rails can cost upwards of $250-$300 a set and in this small 3 rack installation there are 17 pieces of equipment that require rail kits,  the cost savings just for rails could be over $4,000 for a single hardware refresh.  If this cost savings is projected over several generations of servers, the economics of using a generic type of mounting system is significant.

Shown below are 3 Open Frame Racks bayed together.

Open Frame Server Racks

See Open Frame Racks for sale.

Rackmount Drawers and Boxes

May 19th, 2010
Why would you want to put drawers or boxes in your server rack?  Like most IT Staff there is a ton of stuff that usually gets left sitting on top of the equipment.  Software, manuals, test equipment, the list is endless.  What rack drawers and boxes allow you to do is secure all this stuff where it is used the most, next to the equipment.

Rack drawers and boxes are available in several sizes and configurations.  The drawers and boxes are 14 1/4″ in depth.  This allows them to be mounted back to back in a 29″ deep rack.  This maximizes the usable space and provides the versatility to choose what option works best for a given installation.  The drawers and the boxes with lids are lockable to secure expensive equipment such as laptops or test equipment in the rack.

Rack drawers and boxes will make a difference to reduce the clutter and increase the organization in your rack.  The photo shows the internal racks here at RackSolutions and you can see that we “Eat our own dog food” utilizing drawers on the front and rear of our racks.

Rackmount Drawer

Mounting Cisco UCS Slide Rails in a Threaded Hole Rack

May 18th, 2010
The slide rail kits for the Cisco UCS equipment are not compatible with threaded hole racks.  However, if you are in a situation where you have to use this type of rack, there is a solution. The solution is RackSolution”s Adapter Brackets.  These brackets will convert threaded hole racks to square hole racks allowing the use of the standard Cisco Slide Rails.

The adapter brackets also allow for the adjustment of the rack if the installation depth is outside of the range of the Cisco Slide Rails.  The minimum installation depth of the Cisco Slide Rails is 26 5/8″.  If for example your rack has an installation depth of 24″ then the Cisco Slide Rails are not going to fit into your rack.  By adding 2″ adapter brackets to the front and rear of your rack you will increase the installation depth from 24″ to 28″ which is well within the installation depth range of the Cisco Slide Rails.  The adapter brackets that work with the Cisco Slide Rails are available in an assortment of sizes ranging from 2″ to 3 1/2″.


Rack Compatibility Any threaded hole rack
Rail Extension 28 1/4″
Overall Installation Depth 36″ with CMA
34 5/8″ no CMA
Minimum Installation Depth 22 7/8″
Maximum Installation Depth 33 15/16″
P/N: 1UBRK-200

Cisco UCS C200, C210, C250 Rail Overview

Mounting Cisco UCS Slide Rails in a 2Post Rack

May 17th, 2010
The Slide Rail Kits for Cisco”s line of Unified Computing Systems (UCS) are compatible with RackSolutions 2Post Conversion Kits.  These Conversion Kits allow the use of standard 4Post Rails in 2Post Racks.  These kits have a set of 4 support brackets that bolt onto a 2Post rack and provide the 4 corner attachments that a 4Post Rail Kit requires.

The Cisco UCS Slide Rails do not have any mechanisms or assemblies along the outer edge of the rail that might cause an obstruction with the side channel of a 2Post Rack.  The 2Post Conversion Kits are available in several sizes that provide solutions for 2Post Racks with side channels up to 6″ wide.  These kits are avialable in sizes ranging from 2U to 7U tall allowing up to 7 UCS 1U servers to be mounted using a single kit.


Rail Extension 28 1/4″
Overall Installation Depth 36″ with CMA
34 5/8″ no CMA
Installation Depth using 2Post Kit 29″
P/N: 2POST-2UKIT

Cisco UCS C200, C210, C250 Rail Overview

Cisco’s Slide Rail Kit for UCS C200, C210, & C250

May 17th, 2010
Cisco’s line of Unified Computing Systems (UCS) are available with a tool-less slide rail. This rail kit is compatible with two different types of tool-less mounting interfaces: 3/8″ Square Hole and 1/4″ Round Hole racks.

The mechanism on this rail kit has a spring loaded sleeve that retracts for round hole racks. For installations that use square hole racks, the sleeve stays in place and centers the mounting pins in the square holes. The mechanism wraps around the outside of the rack uprights and has a small latch to secure the mechanism in place.


Rack Compatibility 3/8″ Square Hole Racks
1/4″ Round Hole Racks
Rail Extension 28 1/4″
Overall Installation Depth 36″ with CMA
34 5/8″ no CMA
Installation Depth Range min: 26 5/8″
max: 37 15/16″
Installing UCS Rails in a Threaded Hole Rack

Installing UCS Rails in a 2Post Rack

How to install Dell Ready Rails into a threaded hole rack

March 24th, 2010

Dell Ready Rails

Screw Placement

Front Rail Attachment

Rear Rail Attachment

The Dell Ready Rails, that are larger than 1U, can be installed into a threaded hole rack using RackSolutions Adapter Brackets.  Photo #1 shows the Ready Rail Mounting Mechanism that is used on the Dell 11G servers.  This mechanism has two large pins that are inserted into a square hole or a non-threaded hole rack.  These pins are 1/4″ diameter and will not fit into the common threaded hole racks.  The mechanism has two small spring loaded hooks that lock the rail into the rack.
RackSolutions Adapter Brackets convert round holes to square holes.  In order to use the brackets the screws must be installed in a location where they do not interfere with the pins or hooks on the Dell Ready Rails.  There are two holes available on the bracket to install the screws into that will not interfere with the pins and hooks.  Photo #2 shows where the screws are installed as well as how the pins and hooks are inserted into the adapter bracket.
Once the bracket is installed on the rack the Dell Ready Rail can be installed using the normal method.  The rail will protrude from of the bracket.

The rear attachment of the Dell Ready Rails is achieved by using a 2″ Adapter Bracket.  The bracket is installed on the inside surface of the rack.  This will reduce the installation depth of the rack by 2″ which will not typically cause an issue.  In shallow racks a bracket can sometimes be installed on the outside of the rack, however using brackets bigger than the 0.59″ can sometimes result in additional obstruction issues with the rail itself.  Photo #4 shows the 2″ bracket with the Dell Ready Rail attached.

Using the 0.59″ and 2″ brackets on a rack with an installation depth of 29″ will provide 27.59″ of installation depth.  This is within the mounting depth range of the Dell Ready Rails.  If your rack has an installation depth shallower than 29″ then other obstruction issues may occur using the adapter brackets.  Racks that are deeper than 29″ will not be as prone to obstructions as the shallower racks due to the adapter brackets being installed on the inside of the rack.

There are a variety of sizes of adapter brackets available that will solve most common installation issues with the Dell 11G Servers.  These brackets can be ordered online or through a Dell Account Rep.  There are also 3rd Party Replacement Rails available in circumstances where the adapter brackets do not provide an acceptable solution.

Dell’s Ready Rail for 11G Servers

April 15th, 2009

Dell has introduced a new design for their 11G Servers. This rail kit is like no other before. The first thing that you will notice is that the rails themselves no longer attach to the rear mounting surface of the rack post but now wrap around and attach to the front mounting surface. The square hooks that Dell has used for years on their rail kits have been replaced by a set of pins and a small safety latch. The mounting depth range of this new rail kit changed from the previous kit as well. The following table compares the previous rail kit with the new one.

Mounting Depth Overal Depth
Universal Rail 26 15/16″ to 29 5/16″ 35 3/16″
Ready Rail 27 1/4″ to 29 3/4″ 35 3/8″

The 11G Rail Kit is less likely to cause obstructions than the Universal Rail kit. The 11G Rail Kit has a very clean line from the front to the rear rack post. There are very few racks that this rail kit won’t install in. The exception being a rack that has threaded holes instead of the common square holes. If your rack is tapped then this rail kit will not work! The only option for installations that use a rack with tapped holes is to use a fixed rail or a 3rd Party Rail Kit.

The installations that use 2PostRelay Racks will be able to use the Ready Rail with the addition of a 2Post Conversion Kit. The 2Post Conversion Kits are a set of 4 steel brackets that when installed onto a 2Post Rack provide the 4 corner attachments similar to a standard Server Rack. These Conversion Kits are available in sizes from 2-7 Rack Units and are capable of mounting multiple servers.