Rack versus Cabinet: Which is Right for You?

Every installation project is different, so choosing the right installation option requires a choice: open frame rack or enclosed cabinet? Each offers its own set of benefits, so while there is no true right or wrong choice, determining the option that best suits the needs of the individual project requires some consideration.

In his most recent article featured in Networks Europe Magazine, Chatsworth Products (CPI) Senior Product Manager Luca Rozzoni, details the pros and cons of selecting and installing open frame racks and enclosed cabinets.


Despite the latest trend towards using enclosed cabinets, open frame racks still present a perfectly viable solution for many data center deployments. Benefits include:

  • Addresses a variety of applications, from supporting active equipment such as switches and servers to providing a cable patching platform.
  • Provides unobstructed airflow.
  • Creates easy access to equipment and cabling sections, reducing maintenance time for moves, additions or changes.
  • Provides ability to use wide and deep vertical cable managers along both sides, offering the perfect cable management solution.
  • Costs less than enclosed cabinet solutions.

However, there come some drawbacks:

  • Easy access can create security concern for potential damage.
  • Active equipment is exposed to contaminants (dirt, debris).
  • Exposed cables and cable managers can lead to poor aesthetics, especially if poorly maintained.

According to Rozzoni, enclosed cabinets have seen a rise in popularity in Europe for two key reasons:

  • Offers the best and simplest approach to a variety of air segregation strategies, including Cold Aisle Containment, Hot Aisle Containment, and cabinet level containment
  • Includes much higher physical security levels, with different types of locking systems available to enhance protection from unauthorized entry

Despite these advantages, enclosed cabinets have a couple of challenges:

  • Maintenance takes more time due to restricted accessibility
  • Higher costs may prohibit data centers, especially small operations or start-ups

When comparing open frame racks to enclosed cabinets, it’s important to consider all the factors that will play a major role in the lifetime of the installation, and choose the solution that will best serve the core requirements of the unique project.

Read the full article.