Datacenter cabinets are getting taller or … ?

Data center cabinets are getting taller or … ?

In my previous blog I explained the data center skyline and how it evolved over the last few years. In this blog I will give you my opinion about why data centers should standardize to higher cabinets to keep up with nowadays customer demands and requirements.

Let’s start with the basics, A cabinet can be ordered in various flavors and customer specific requirements. Most common dimensions are:
Width of the cabinet: 600mm, 750mm and 800mm
Depth of the cabinet: 1000mm and 1200mm
Hight of the cabinet: 45HU up to 62HU+ (HU: Height Units)
Color of the cabinet: White, Grey and Black

The width and depth of the cabinet are mostly chosen according to the specific purpose of the rack. Dense server cabinets are most likely to go for narrow. Networking cabinets (using a lot of copper) will most likely go for wide and shallow. But how about the height?

Handling a lot of customer specific customer requests, I see a trend in higher cabinets, but why? There are a couple of reasons for this growing trend:


Whitespace in the metropolitan areas can be more expensive when comparing to other areas, higher cabinets offer more room for your equipment. For example: you need 4 cabinets instead of 6, which can save you a lot of operational costs.
Simple calculation using a 45HU cabinet VS 54HU:

45HU X 6 cabinets = 270HU
54HU X 6 cabinets = 324HU –
54HU Difference in HU

Using the above calculation, the customer can save OPEX: 1 cabinet, power plugs, and m2.


Most cabinets which are in use in a data center are dedicated to offer space for servers. These servers can host any type of service; Cloud, Hosting, Storage, etc. These servers need to be connected to various networking and connections to be able to operate using: e.g. Out of band, Network interfaces, Console, Management. It’s pretty common to see a customer use 6 network ports per server going to 6 different switches. A standard switch has up to 48 ports and as we all know switching is very expensive. You should be able to use all 48 ports to optimize your return on investment. Knowing this we can again make a simple calculation:

1x 45HU cabinet 45HU
6x Switching 6HU –
39HU usable server space, resulting in 9 not usable switch ports

1x 54HU cabinet 54HU
6x Switching 6HU –
48HU usable server space, resulting in 0 not usable switch ports

*Calculation based on single HU equipment

Using higher cabinets will optimize your switching capacity and optimize your operational model.

Layout cabinet

Layout cabinet

High density

Higher cabinets can support more equipment and therefor require more power than regular cabinets. This is of course an indirect advantage and disadvantage. Not all data centers can support high density cabinets, which limits the choice when looking for a data center. Some data centers can offer high density cabinets, but they will need to give up cabinet space which is indirectly charged back to the customer. More modern data centers are designed to take on higher densities and can handle 22kW cabinets as a standard. These data centers can by default offer you a better deal when renting high dense cabinet.

Over the next few years data centers will start following or preparing their data centers to support his growing trend of growing cabinets. Higher cabinets will help customers optimize their operational process and reduce costs.
We at are prepared for higher cabinets and power requirements. By default, we can offer 22kW cabinets without giving up cabinet spaces, all cabinets can be placed adjacent to each other. We offer our customers standard 54HU closed cabinets from APC by Schneider by default. Our cabinet are 600mm wide x 1200mm deep, always on stock, and directly ready to use. They can be adjusted with specific requirements such as security improvements and cable management options.

Hans Vreeburg
Datacenter Commissioning & Engineering Manager

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