Rugged IT in a Box

Rugged IT in a Box

Taking a “safe” approach—Rittal has a number of solutions for putting IT on the edge, where ruggedness is a plus.

Everything is moving to the cloud, but sometimes that enterprise information technology (IT) hardware needs to be on the edge. Oftentimes, that edge computing isn’t as lightweight as an embedded gateway. Developers that need to deliver more powerful solutions must find a way to keep the IR resources cool and clean. Rugged solutions like those built around OpenVPX for military and avionics represent one approach. Although COTS solutions exist, they typically require customization, making them much more expensive.

Another approach is to use conventional IT hardware, but wrap it within a protected structure. This is where Rittal’s custom data centers come into play (Fig. 1). Built off the company’s Modular Data Center solutions for IT, these systems are based on Rittal’s popular TS 8 and TS IT series and new VX25 series enclosures. In addition, cooling-related solutions allow the IT hardware to operate in industrial environments closer to the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

1. Rittal’s custom data-center design is an enclosed IT space that includes cooling.

The custom data centers surround the enclosures along with the liquid-cooling systems that use external radiators. Rittal’s Blue e+ can be used for small installations, and the Liquid Cooling Package DX handles larger installations. The DX systems employ speed-controlled compressors to match cooling output to system requirements. This type of system can also be used in other IT environments.

Smaller solutions are available as well. The Micro Data Center (Fig. 2) essentially puts a standard TS 8 or VX25 rack inside a two-door safe. Doors on the front and back allow the usual access to both ends of the IT equipment. Both can be locked for physical security. Of course, the trick is also to include the necessary power and cooling needed when the doors are sealed. Level B and the more secure Level E enclosures are available.

2. The Micro Data Centers put IT into a safe, literally.

Putting the IT equipment into a safe does numerous things. It protects against physical access, fire, and dust. Internally, it allows the cooling system to be scaled appropriately as well as simplify internal fire suppression (Fig. 3). The DET-AC fire-suppression systems can detect fire and smoke, and then release a gas within the enclosure that will suffocate a fire. The gas is maintained in liquid form until necessary, and is sufficient to fill an enclosure, thereby protecting everything within. The gas leaves no residue, so systems can be quickly restarted after appropriate action is taken to repair the system.

3. This fire alarm and extinguisher system is designed for the enclosed space of Rittal’s Micro Data Centers.

The CMC III monitoring system is also available for inclusion within the rack. IT can monitor temperature, providing notifications via email or SMS, as well as link into network monitoring systems using standard protocols like SNMP.

IT equipment is often used in these system enclosures, but it’s not a requirement. Industrial control systems that are typically placed into TS 8 enclosures can be included within this same type of environment. It’s possible to mix and match IT and process control in the same rack if needed.

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