May 5th, 2012 by Kevin OBrien
StorageReview Test Lab: Eaton S-Series Rack
As the focus at StorageReview transitions to an increased enterprise-centric slant, it's more important than ever to properly deploy an enterprise environment for reviewing SMB and enterprise-grade storage solutions. The latest enhancement to the StorageReview Test Lab comes via Eaton and their latest generation S-Series Rack. The 42U rack is an ideal framework to house our burgeoning collection of servers, rack-mount storage solutions, and networking products, as well as infrastructure pieces like our Eaton 5PX UPS to keep tests running smoothly regardless of the power conditions outside of our building.
The Eaton S-Series Rack comes with a wide range of options, as well as being offered in two standard heights; 42U and 48U. To fit within the height restrictions of our office doorways, we chose the 42U configuration that remains fairly mobile on casters even as it starts to tip the scales at close to 1,000lbs partially loaded. The rack is designed to hold up to 2,200lbs of EIA-310 standard size equipment thanks to a fully-welded frame while still supporting non-rackmountable items with optional heavy-duty fixed shelves. The S-Series rack is also designed to work with Eaton's wide range of monitored and switched enclosure power distribution units (ePDU) and uninterruptible power supplies.
From a security standpoint, the Eaton S-Series Rack offers three levels to restrict access to installed equipment. The first, shown below, is a mechanical lock for traditional installations. Buyers can also chose to upgrade to a HID proximity electronic locking system or a keypad friction lock to further improve security as well as provide an audit trail to find out who's accessed the rack. As businesses continue to create proper paper-trails to know when systems are accessed in the event of data breaches, supporting these systems is required. In our enterprise test lab though, having basic security is all that's required with limited building access.
A server rack wouldn't be complete without proper power monitoring and conditioning. We use an Eaton 5PX UPS and one extended battery module to filter incoming power and provide sufficient uptime in the event of a short-term power failure to continue background tests. On longer power outages, we use Eaton's Intelligent Power Protector to safely shutdown all connected equipment. With our current setup, we can support the two servers under benchmarking load for around two hours or an increased load of about 800 watts for just under an hour. As our needs grow, we can add two additional battery modules to our existing 5PX UPS for increased runtime.
At the other end of the spectrum, we are also upgrading the circuits inside the StorageReview Test Lab. While a shared 15A 120V outlet might have sufficed for one or two servers, running an entire rack-full is a completely different story. For this reason we are bringing in an additional 50A 240V line to handle the power needs looking forward. This will be managed through an Eaton Advanced Monitored ePDU, allowing us to track power usage on all systems inside the Test Lab.
To cope with copper and fiber networking demands, the Eaton S-Series Rack offers unobstructed front, rear, and top access. The top cover has wide channels to route cables up and out of the rack and into the data center around it. The bottom also provides pass-through cavities, which when combined with optional rubber grommets, keep sub-floor plenum pressures high with minimal air leakage. In our setup, most of our cabling needs are localized within the rack, although as we expand to support more equipment and additional racks, these areas will see increased use. For internal cable routing, the rear of the rack includes large hooks to channel networking cables from each server and keep an unobstructed air path for improved cooling.
The Eaton S-Series Rack gives StorageReview one of the best platforms available to grow our enterprise Test Lab. As we look to evaluate new storage products, from single drives to solutions like the 16-bay, twin-blade HP X5000 G2 Network Storage System shown below, having the proper testing environment is mandatory to test real-world performance in conditions that the device would actually be deployed in. This is especially true as we expand our testing methodologies to include not only system-level benchmarks, but multi-server data center level testing conditions.