A Layman's Explanation of the Role of IT Racks in Cooling Your Data Center

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Executive Summary

Unless it is an actively cooled rack (i.e. one with a cooling coil, which looks like a radiator), the rack is a passive player in the thermal system. The amount of IT systems the rack can "Cool" depends on the room's ability to deliver adequate temperature air to the rack. Each IT system consumes a specific amount of air. This air enters the system through the front, picks up heat while it passes through the system, exits the system through the back, and eventually exhausts from the rack. A good system vendor can tell one how fast a particular piece of IT equipment consumes air (in the US, this is generally expressed in Cubic Feet per Minute or CFM.)

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