Airflow in Network Cabinets vs Server Cabinets
Airflow management is different and more complicated these days in network cabinets compared to server cabinets. It used to be that a cabinet was a cabinet - you could line them up how you wanted according to your overall airflow and temperature management system for the room and that was that.
Now, however, networking cabinets house side-breathing switches. This brings in cool air on one side, across the switch components, and exhausts super- heated air out the opposing side. These are the new industry standard, and for good reason. Reconfiguring switches to vent to the side allows for an increase port density while taking up less vertical space.
Furthermore, networking switches and accessories don’t generate nearly as much heat as servers do, and don’t need as much airflow to keep cool. Where server cabinets today use vented shelves, baffles, planking, and perforated doors - among other accessories - to manage a balance between access and airflow, networking cabinets have different issues to address. While they generally require more accessories to tame the cables connecting the networking switches and routers to the rest of the data center, they can use much simpler cabinets with made of solid material with basic ventilation and even solid tempered glass or Plexiglass doors.
These differences in design are appropriate and useful, but make it more complicated to plan airflow management and cooling at the room level. Since network connectivity is an essential part of any data center row, it is necessary to somehow manage the side-breathing airflow within a traditional network cabinet. The standard neat hot or cold aisle solution simply doesn’t work with today’s network cabinets straight out of the box.
Not just airflow accessories, an airflow solution for network cabinets
There’s where the experienced data center veterans at Legrand Cabinets and Containment Business come in. Our teams set out to build a better network cabinet and switch mounting system to not only optimize airflow and cooling for individual switches, but to better integrate network cabinets into the airflow management system for a whole data center.
Not only that, the team worked to achieve a few other design goals as well:
- The solution would not use any additional valuable RU space in the cabinet.
- It would be reconfigurable by data center technicians as needs evolve over time without negatively impacting a live production environment.
- And the solution would require not additional hand tools for installation or configuration
The end result is the Legrand CCB Cross-Breeze Rail System. This system is a modular configuration of accessories that allows for easy changes when necessary and takes up zero RU space, accommodating as many as three network switches per cabinet. It has moveable air baffles which regulate the airflow from the side cut outs in the rails themselves. The system is also completely tool-less with accessories being snapped into place simply and easily.