Q&A: Mark Tracy, Director of Product & New Business Development, Middle Atlantic

Middle Atlantic's Mark Tracy says that increasing demand for robust networks is putting a great onus on rack systems.

CE Pro Editors · February 18, 2014

The residential installation market is growing again. What does this mean for rack system trends?
Even though the luxury portion of the market has held steady, it’s great to see the positive growth trend in mid- and entry-level systems. However, one thing the growth trend has not changed is the need for integrators to be efficient and cost-effective while delivering reliable systems. We’ve seen this drive more requests for factory pre-configured systems, which we’ve been providing for years.

While Middle Atlantic enclosure systems are often associated with high-end installations, we also offer many value-priced solutions like our RCS Series Residential Configured Racks. This new series is an economical alternative and is very capable for mid-sized systems with less cabling and lower heat output. Plus, it’s configured at the factory and comes complete with everything needed and is ready for installation.

How do the commercial and residential markets di er in terms of product usage and application within the Middle Atlantic product line?
The basic principles and best practices for designing and installing reliable systems are fundamentally the same - both rely on a quality physical structure for mounting equipment, combined with dependable power delivery, thermal management, and cable management.

As more customers demand enterprise-grade networks in their home, commercial-grade power management and backup are more critical than ever. For the highest level of system-wide protection, our Exact Power systems provide end-to-end isolated solutions for power integrity. Additionally, RackLink web-enabled power management provides the residential integrator not only a means to stay connected to the system to avoid service calls, but also features that include auto-heal capabilities, as well as the ability to log power conditions in the home prior to system design and installation.

Can you explain the updates made to the RackTools program?
In addition to compatibility with AutoCad, one recent enhancement is the ability to save drawings into the Visio format, which was requested by many system designers. We are planning signi cant enhancements in 2014.

Is thermal management overlooked?
Thermal management is an important element - but the rack is only one part of the equation. Proper thermal management means designing a system so the hot air can escape into the room and be replaced by cooler air [through passive convection or active fans]. The room [or closet] must also have adequate circulation to provide this cool make-up air and to exhaust the hot air so the rack and the room need to work as a system.

The same is true for cabinets and credenzas, and with digital systems that can produce more heat but are less tolerant to high temperatures, it is critical to design in effective equipment cooling. Middle Atlantic provides support and easy-to-use tools like the Thermal Calculator on the website. We also publish a thermal management white paper that demystifies many myths.

How has the multimedia/great room trend affected Middle Atlantic?
The trend has definitely opened new opportunities for dealers when equipment is located in the room, as long as two primary considerations are addressed. First, we all know that the rack must fit the aesthetics of the room and the client. When a high-tech look is preferred, we recommend a rack with lots of anodized trim, lighting, curved doors.

When the look of fine furniture is desired, our ‘Frame to Furniture’ strategy combines a professional rack or credenza frame, with an outer wood trim to match any decor. We offer thermolaminate trim for our C5 Series Credenzas, as well as for many of our vertical racks, plus any millworker can fabricate customized trim from our plans.

The second consideration is quiet cooling. We recommend fans that are thermostatically controlled and proportional so they only run when necessary and as fast as needed.

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