When I go shopping for network infrastructure, I see lots of different kinds of racks available and I don't understand the difference between them. What are the different types of racks you would typically see in a datacentre?

  • 3
    Can this question be any more ambiguous?
    – Greg
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 11:56
  • 2
    @Greg - I've tried to salvage the question.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 12:27
  • 1
    I like the new version! Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 12:56

4 Answers 4


I dont know if it's what you mean, but in my knowledge, there are 6 main types of racks or cabinets for switches and servers:

  1. SOHO LINE CABINETS: 7U, 9U or 12U; could be wall-mounted
  2. SLIM LINE CABINETS: 5U; wall-mounted
  3. MINI PRO LINE CABINET: 7U; could be wall-mounted; with 2 side pannels for cabling
  4. TRIM LINE CABINET: 12U; wall-mounted; for low-profile accessories
  5. SERVER LINE RACKS: 26U, 36U or 42U for servers and other accessories that require depth.
  6. UNIVERSAL LINE RACKS: 26U, 36U or 42U for network equipment.

I hope it's what you were looking for.

  • Number 5 and 6, in 42U height, are the one you will find the most in DataCenters. Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 12:31
  • And each of those is available in various depths and almost unlimited designs and configurations. Commented Feb 11, 2011 at 0:41

4-Post Cabinet Racks

Also known as "server racks" or "equipment racks" are enclosed cabinets mainly designed for housing servers, UPSs and other heavy equipment that requires 4-point mounting, ventilation, and physical protection.

                  Cabinet Racks

4-Post Open Frame Racks

Basically, the same as cabinet racks, except as the name emplies they are "open" and not enclosed.

                  4-Post Open Frame Rack

2-Post Relay Rack

Also known as "open bay racks", are typically used for lighter equipment such as switches, patch cabling, and interface terminals.

                  2-Post Relay Rack

Wall-Mount Racks

These come in 2 or 4 post variations with enclosed or open frames, and as the name suggests mount on the wall as opposed to the floor. These tend to be used primarily for Intermediate Distribution Frames (i.e. switches, and patch cabling) outside of the main room/office. They can however be used to mount small servers and other small equipment as well.

                  Wall-mount Cabinet Rack                   Wall-mount open frame


Racks differ in their height, given in Rack Units, but also in their widths and depths. These dimensions become very important when you start cabling your components and/or adding switches and/or PDUs on the rear of your racks.

Always check your needed widths and depths also.

  • Good point, that's true! Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 12:48

There are lots of types of racks and cabinets in data centers. 2post racks used primarily for networking applications. Open frame 4post racks are very common. These are economical racks that are used when security requirements do not require doors. Compartmentalized cabinets are used in colocation space to allow multiple tenants to occupy a single cabinet. Fully enclosed cabinets are by far the most common. These have a wide variety of applications in a data center. The 30" wide cabinets are used when large enterprise class routers are installed. This type of equipment requires special duct work which these wide cabinets have. These wider cabinets are also used in applications that have a very large amount of cabling.

Most of these cabinets mentioned come in numerous heights, widths, and depths depending on how much and what types of equipment are being installed. There are a huge range of options and accessories available ranging from cable management to cabinet based cooling products.

If you have a special piece of equipment for a unique environment there is a good chance that there is a rack for that.