Despite their special purpose, servers are really nothing more than computers. However, that means that, just like computers, there are all kinds of servers out there. One popular version is known as a rack server.

What is a rack server?

Rack servers get their name from the central framework used to hold them. The two are actually separate, though rack servers are designed to install in this type of structure, specifically. You may also hear them called rack-mounted servers.

The structure itself is capable of holding numerous servers, essentially stacked one on top of the other. In large hosting environments, you may see row after row of rack servers. They are a convenient way to organize all this hardware. For one thing, it’s easy to access any part of the server because the rack can simply be rolled out and then rolled back into place when the work is done.

Another reason to love rack servers is climate control. As you may already know, servers produce a lot of heat. Although they can expel that hot air, if enough of them are located in the same vicinity, eventually the temperature can get hot enough that the server crashes.

With rack servers, you have a “hot row” and a “cold row.” The former is where the hot air is expelled and the former is where cold air is pumped in to ensure the servers never get above a temperature where things could be dangerous.

Management System

Most racks will also come with some kind of a cable management system. This will make life a lot easier because servers do not lack for cables. If they become tangled, you’ll have a difficult time operating on any one of them.

You don’t necessarily need KVM capability with rack servers though. It’s definitely possible though that will take away from how many servers will fit in any given rack. What you could do—and what a lot of data centers do— is keeping a monitor on a cart and push it to a rack whenever you need to work on a server.

Despite how convenient rack servers are, they usually don’t lack for power. Some have as many as a dozen discs right in the chassis. Others have even more. They can support a handful of processors, even if each of them contains multiple cores. Furthermore, most rack servers are capable of supporting large amounts of RAM, making them computing powerhouses.

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Photo Cred: Flickr/ Paul Hammond

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