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I'm wondering if there's any tools (preferably offline) that would allow me to layout all of the new equipment that will be going into several standard racks. Currently I'm using Excel to map out all of the slots columns for the data but I suspect that there is some better method of doing this. Suggestions?

Edit: Dell has an online tool, but doesn't seem very good at actually saving the data that you're working on (and obviously it's geared towards Dell hardware).

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The Dell Datacenter Capacity Planner tool does allow you to save, load, and print configurations and you can add user defined devices if you have the specs for those devices (U, power, etc.). –  joeqwerty Nov 17 '09 at 15:38

10 Answers 10

up vote 10 down vote accepted

In order to provide some contrast, here is a non-Excel solution we have been using for one of our datacenter groups:

RackTables: http://racktables.org/about.php

It provides some asset management and other functions, so there might be some overlap in your organization, but primarily it's a rack visualizer / organizer. Perhaps the most useful feature is the ability to actually configure the physical ports on each object and how they're connected to each other, as well as the tagging system.

Try it, you might like it -- if not there is always the custom spreadsheet option as others have suggested.

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Thanks, that's literally exactly what I was looking for. –  Luke Nov 17 '09 at 16:27

I were in the exact same situation as you, and I spent quite alot of time searching for software to make this easier. No matter what I found, 42 rows in excel was the best option (with comment fields).

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We use wiki tables, but the concept is much the same. –  womble Nov 17 '09 at 14:44
    
+1, this is how we document our colo equipment. One sheet for an equipment inventory and a second with the rack layouts. Quite simple to highlight 1 or 2 units and add a server name. –  Doug Luxem Nov 17 '09 at 15:15
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The other advantage I found with Excel was ability to "merge" cells for items larger than 1U - it looks quite tidy, and when cut-and-pasted into design/as-is documents it takes up very little storage compared to an accurate-looking Visio... I started on the Visio route and file sizes were getting ridiculous, but by embedding the Excel table, it was easy to edit and smaller. –  Mitch Miller Sep 8 '10 at 3:23

I have used Excel with Visio Stencils (icons) it is quite nice.

Dell Stencils

Cisco Stencils

A good resource for Visio Stencils: VisoCafe

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You could use the online Visio alternative Gliffy. I think only the Premium version has the ability to create rack diagrams. Check out this link; scroll a little ways down to see an example: http://www.gliffy.com/blog/category/gliffy-premium/

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I've historically used Visio for this.

Visio has little symbols for all different kinds of devices, 1U servers, 2U servers, 6U servers, etc.

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Excel seems a fine solution for me. Color coded, one line per Unit should be enough to keep track of what's going where.

If you want to do it graphically, MS Visio has some support for this and can be connected to all kind of external data sources to visualize data about the rack. If you look around, you'll find all kind of equipment shapes for many vendors.

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I use a spreadsheet in openoffice. One thing I've found useful is create a sheet for each rack and have a bunch of fields for each row like serial numbers, what jack it's plugged into on switch, kvm, and power. Then create a summary sheet that pulls the first column from each sheet into a more condensed view if you just need to have a server restarted and want to tell the technician what row and name of server is.

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Here's the over-the-top answer: TileFlow

But it really depends on what you're really looking to do.

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We use our CMDB to store the rack name, starting and ending U of all equipment. Those infos are part of the server record. Then we do an ODBC query in Excel and with some conditional formatting magic we present visually the rows of racks. The plan is to extend the CMDB to include the rack object to be able to track zero U items, PDU resource and usage...

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Lucidchart is another on-line diagramming tool that does rack layouts: https://www.lucidchart.com/pages/examples/server-rack-diagram

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