Rack rails on network equipment

Andrey Khomyakov khomyakov.andrey at gmail.com
Fri Sep 24 16:37:58 UTC 2021

Hi folks,
Happy Friday!

Would you, please, share your thoughts on the following matter?

Back some 5 years ago we pulled the trigger and started phasing out Cisco
and Juniper switching products out of our data centers (reasons for that
are not quite relevant to the topic). We selected Dell switches in part due
to Dell using "quick rails'' (sometimes known as speed rails or toolless
rails).  This is where both the switch side rail and the rack side rail
just snap in, thus not requiring a screwdriver and hands of the size no
bigger than a hamster paw to hold those stupid proprietary screws (lookin
at your, cisco) to attach those rails.
We went from taking 16hrs to build a row of compute (from just network
equipment racking pov) to maybe 1hr... (we estimated that on average it
took us 30 min to rack a switch from cut open the box with Juniper switches
to 5 min with Dell switches)
Interesting tidbit is that we actually used to manufacture custom rails for
our Juniper EX4500 switches so the switch can be actually inserted from the
back of the rack (you know, where most of your server ports are...) and not
be blocked by the zero-U PDUs and all the cabling in the rack. Stock rails
didn't work at all for us unless we used wider racks, which then, in turn,
reduced floor capacity.

As far as I know, Dell is the only switch vendor doing toolless rails so
it's a bit of a hardware lock-in from that point of view.

*So ultimately my question to you all is how much do you care about the
speed of racking and unracking equipment and do you tell your suppliers
that you care? How much does the time it takes to install or replace a
switch impact you?*

I was having a conversation with a vendor and was pushing hard on the fact
that their switches will end up being actually costlier for me long term
just because my switch replacement time quadruples at least, thus requiring
me to staff more remote hands. Am I overthinking this and artificially
limiting myself by excluding vendors who don't ship with toolless rails
(which is all of them now except Dell)?

Thanks for your time in advance!
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