Headend racks are shedding their reputation as commodities. Not that all cable techs are on board. "One of the things that’s mostly neglected is the infrastructure to support all the electronics in these facilities," Tim Fike, sales engineer with Sci-Care Broadband Services, says. But two-post rack installs don’t quite cut it today. Racks are now part of a larger picture that entails numerous design and engineering considerations. "The three things are power distribution within the rack, cooling within the rack and cable management," Ed Eacueo, product manager for APC’s NetShelter line, says. Security is another issue for racks in data centers, he adds. As one innovation on the powering equation, APC designed its InfraStruXure architecture to include modular uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and power distribution units (PDU) in each of its NetShelter racks. Eacueo says this design makes power distribution very clean, inexpensive and quick to deploy. It also reduces points of failure and, by displacing the traditional UPS setup, can recapture space. In a testimonial, Time Warner Cable engineers in New York cite InfraStruXure’s front-to-back air cooling and remote power monitoring, as well as its scalability, as features enhancing its deployment of VOD. Customize it Curiously, while VOD servers are increasingly linked to the idea of "off-the-shelf," racks are themselves riding a customization wave. APC uses a Web-based "build-out" tool to let customers input parameters. ElectroRack, populated by former executives at Stantron (a division of APW), makes the ProE2001 auto-CAD tool available to its broadcast and broadband customers. It also includes such features as pre-installed grounding straps, which save on installation labor.
"Some of the things that we’ve done with companies like ElectroRack, and even APW, or any other cabinet manufacturer that’s out there, is try to help design a cabinet for what we think the customers need," Sci-Care’s Fike says. —Jonathan Tombes

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