A non-profit volunteer organization that I do some admin work for is in the process of planning a major renovation to their building, which is more or less a converted house (no basement, uninsulated attic, pretty much every other inch of space in use). We currently have the network hardware and servers - 1x 2U switch, 1x 1U router, patch panel, 5U UPS, 12U of servers of different heights, all Proliant - in a mechanical room, split between the network gear on a 12U wall-mounted rack and the servers on a big beefy wall-mounted shelf.

Since we're doing a major renovation to the building, I'd like to plan for a new TC / server closet from the beginning. The problem is that, as the building is a converted house and even relatively small at that, space is at a premium. I don't think it will be possible to expand the structure enough to allow for any "real" sized TC.

Does anyone have any ideas for setting up a short rack with both network equipment and servers in the minimum space possible? I assume the most we'll be able to come up with is something the size of a normal home closet (say, 3-4 feet wide, maybe 6 feet deep at best). The best theory I can come up with is to put a half-height rack all the way forward against the door (something with air movement like a screen door or metal mesh) and leave just enough space for a small-ish person to get around to the back of the rack, leaving about 2 feet behind the back of the rack and the wall.

If this were just network equipment, I'd do a wall mount rack, but the need to keep the servers in the same space complicates things a bit...


Every rack you'll find will be about 800mm wide. Most racks are either 600mm or 800mm deep. I suspect that 600mm racks will be too shallow for your usage. You'll want around 400mm along one side and the back to give you room to get to the back. You probably want a little more space to get at the back if you can. You will need at least a metre of space at the front of the rack to allow you to get servers in and out. This means that you're going to need at least 1200mm x 2200mm space for a rack. I don't see how you're going to be able to use any less space, unless you have another way of getting at the back of the rack. Obviously you don't need to get a full height rack and can use some of the space above it for other purposes.

  • Actually, I was thinking about a rack in a closet with the front of the rack even (width-wise) with the door, so machines could be put in/removed through the open doorway. Honestly, I was hoping that someone would come up with a really interesting solution for how they solved a space problem (what happens to the internals if a machine is suspended vertically?) – Jason Antman Oct 19 '09 at 19:53
  • You could improve your situation by using servers that don't have connectors on the back, like Rackable servers, but that would require spending money on new hardward. – David Pashley Oct 19 '09 at 19:56

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