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3 Factors that Make Open Bridge Racks Different

Posted by: Denis Blouin on October 20, 2016

row of open bridge racks

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As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, Open Compute standards are being considered by many data centers (or at least sparking some interesting conversations). Moving a data center to an Open Compute environment, however, is an aggressive goal that probably won’t be completed all at once.

The Challenge of Moving to Open Compute

Although it’s just one data center component, Open Compute hardware adoption starts with the rack.

Open Racks have been designed to accommodate Open Compute hardware, but they pose challenges to data center managers who want to take a phased approach to implementation. Hardware incompatibility exists between EIA and Open Compute standards; existing EIA hardware can’t be placed into Open Compute racks (and vice versa). A few examples:

  1. EIA racks use mounting increment rack units (RUs) of 1.75 inches, where Open Compute gear uses 48mm (1.88 inches) in “OU” mounting increments.
  2. Open Compute gear is wider than EIA gear – roughly 21 inches (538mm) vs. 19 inches – allowing for better placement of the motherboard and bigger, more effective cooling fans. Open Compute gears also have a fixed depth of 25.4 inches (645mm) and 31 inches (789mm) as defined in Open Rack Standard V2.0. Fixed depth allows the computing gear chassis to mate with the rear-mounted power bus bar.
  3. EIA racks typically feature cable management at the rear; however, networking cables in an Open Rack come to the front of the rack. Servicing Open Compute gear is done from the front of the rack only. The rear of the Open Compute rack is often integrated into the data center’s containment system.

The move to Open Compute is best handled according to a data center’s specific technology needs, budgets and resources, but there was no good rack solution to help data center managers make the transition at their own pace.

Thus, the Open Bridge Rack was born, literally bridging the gap between EIA and Open Compute standards. Fidelity Investment’s migration to Open Compute was in the inspiration; the organization needed a bridge between Open Racks and the standard racks used in corporate data centers.

The Open Bridge Rack can serve your current EIA investments and requirements while enabling you to evolve to Open Compute hardware when you’re ready. You no longer have to sacrifice futureproofing to handle current infrastructure needs.

Let’s take a look at what an Open Bridge Rack offers, and how it’s different from traditional EIA racks and Open Racks.

1. Accommodates Two IT Standards

An Open Bridge Rack looks like a standard rack from the outside (28 inches wide by 48 inches deep by 44RU/40OU or 48RU/44OU), with a front door, rear door and two side panels. The features that set the Open Bridge Rack apart are inside:

  1. Dual-sided adaptable rails
  2. EIA-to-Open Compute conversion kit (front and rear Open Compute spacer/management panels that allow precise rail positioning in relation to the power bus bar)
  3. Electrical components; the rear spacer panel allows mounting of Open Compute power system

Because of its special interior rails, this one rack can accommodate two IT standards: EIA and Open Compute. Both standards are designed into the same vertical rail, which is marked for conversion from rack unit (RU) to Open Compute (OU) slots. Because they are dual-sided, you simply remove the rails, rotate them and reinstall to switch back and forth between EIA to Open Compute. This change can be made in place on the data center floor, with racks ganged together.

2. Offers Adjustability and Customizability

Open Bridge Racks are also pre-configured to accept power shelves and bus bars that meet Open Compute standards. The Open Bridge Rack is fully compatible with various Open Compute power options, with power shelf arrangements of 1, 2 or 3.

3. Compatible with Hardware from Any Vendor

Because power is separate from the rack, Open Bridge Racks can accommodate hardware from any vendor. This allows data center managers to work with whichever manufacturer(s) they are most comfortable with, knowing that their hardware solutions will work inside the rack.

conversion components for an open bridge rack

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Open Bridge Racks from Belden

Belden offers Open Bridge Racks in two heights – 48RU and 44RU – for data centers managers who plan to move toward Open Compute in the future. As an active participant of the Open Compute Project, Belden is dedicated to developing efficient data center technology that reduces costs and environmental impacts.

Belden can help you reduce data center operating costs and establish a path to Open Compute. Find simple solutions to your data center challenges here.

Does the availability of an Open Bridge Rack help you decide whether you’ll pursue a move to Open Compute? Tell us in the comments section below!

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