Seismic Zone Map of the United States

Seismic Server Racks: What’s the difference?

Even when the world is shaking a 19″ seismic server rack enclosure can keep your equipment safe. Many data centers reside in geographies where earthquakes and other seismic activity are very real occurrances.  To insure the continuing operation of equipment and even more importantly, the safety of data center personnel during a seismic event, it is critical that all server racks and enclosures comply with at least one of the industry standards for seismic protection.

There are two seismic protection standards for server racks and enclosures. They are:

Seismic Zone Map of the United States
Seismic Zone Map of the United States
  • Telcordia Technologies GR-63-CORE Network Equipment Building Systems (NEBS)
  • International Building Code (IBC)

Telcordia Technologies GR-63-CORE Network Equipment Building Systems (NEBS)

The NEBs standards were originally developed to protect the equipment during a seismic event in telecommunications carrier facilities.  Obviously, it was and is important for that equipment to remain in operation one hundred percent of the time.  In fact, the standard states:  “The equipment shall sustain operation without replacement of components, manual rebooting and human intervention.”

To attain compliance for a seismic zone, server racks and enclosures must be tested by an independent third party.  Tests utilize a shaker table that simulates an earthquake.  The table shakes the equipment in a variety of directions and at a number intensity levels to simulate an earthquake.  The intensity levels match the force level of UBC (Universal Building Code) Seismic Zones 1 to 4 where 4 is the most intense. (Seismic Zones are geographic delineations of areas having different potentials for hazardous effects from future earthquakes. Seismic zonation can be done at any scale – national, regional, local, or site.)  Enclosures can, therefore, be rated as compliant for Seismic Zone 1, 2, 3, or 4.

International Building Code (IBC)

In contrast to the NEBS standards, IBC compliance does not require third party testing.  That makes compliance significantly less expensive for the manufacturer – and those savings are often passed on to purchasers of the enclosures.  IBC standards also do not measure the enclosure alone, they analyze the ability to the enclosure and its contents to comply within an entire building system.

To achieve IBC compliance, manufacturers have three choices:

  • A shaker table test (not as stringent as the NEBS standard)
  • A mathematical equation that compares potential seismic effects to objects mounted in a building  (The advantage of the IBC equation approach is that it includes all of the factors that could potentially affect an enclosure.)
  • A mathematical equation that uses experience data

Because NEBS compliance testing is more stringent, all GR-63-compliant enclosures are also IBC compliant.

Rackmount Solutions’ Seismic Enclosures

Rackmount Solutions offers a variety of tested seismic server racks and enclosures that are NEBS and/or IBC seismic zone compliant.  They include:

  • Seismic NEBS Zone 4 Server Rack
  • WRK Series Enclosure (IBC Zone 4)
  • VRK Series 19” Gangable Video Rack Enclosure (IBC Zone 4)
  • MRK Series 19” Rack Enclosure (IBC Zone 4)

And the ERK Economy 19” Server Cabinet is seismic rated (Zone 4) for protecting 500 lbs. of essential equipment when used in conjunction with optional ERK-Z4 brackets.

Seismic server racks and enclosures can protect equipment and staff during seismic activities.  But they’re also good for rugged environments or where resistance to shock, bending or vibration is important.  To learn more about server racks and enclosures that protect equipment from seismicity, or any of our racks and enclosures, contact us at 866-207-6631 or

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *