By Jon McSweeny
The connectivity provided by cabling infrastructure is the foundation of every data center — enabling the transactions that help businesses make mission-critical decisions every day. All data centers have various types of cabling, ranging from all-copper installation to all-fiber installation and everything in between (depending on your equipment and your requirements). Whether the cables in question are for power or data, failure to properly manage this critical part of data center infrastructure can cause serious issues, from increased operating costs to more expensive outages. Cable management cannot be an afterthought.
Team planning and thinking through the installation ahead of time is key to getting data center cabling right. The optimum solution is to design a cabling infrastructure at the same time as the data center, using bandwidth/equipment requirements and physical layout to determine the types and quantities of cables needed. The time spent planning makes it easier to manage cable infrastructure when the data center is operational — don’t waste time trying to identify which equipment is connected to which cable for troubleshooting, repair, or replacement.
Best Practices: Data Center Cable Management
- ANSI/TIA-942-B-2017 Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard for Data Centers
- BICSI 002-2019 Data Center Design Implementation & Best Practices
- Testing and certification to ensure this infrastructure is working properly and will support your bandwidth and networking needs.
- Documentation to note the types of cables used, as well as locations and connections of each cable to help for future troubleshooting or maintenance.
- Measure to ensure cables are the proper length. Loose cables can get tangled and get disconnected from the wrong equipment which causes unforeseen downtime to critical IT equipment.
- Plan for growth and make sure your system is reliable for the foreseeable future — ensure that racks and cable trays are designed to accommodate anticipated growth.
- Run cables to the sides of server racks, so they’re not in the way when adding or removing servers from the rack.
- Bundle cables together to connect to the next piece of hardware, down to the floor in data centers with raised floors, or up to the ceiling in data centers with wires that run through the ceiling.
- Plan ahead for installing additional hardware. Disorganized cabling can interfere with air circulation and cooling patterns resulting in significant damage due to quickly rising temperatures caused by inefficient air movement.
- Label cables securely on each end. This enables you to locate cables easily for testing or repair, to install new equipment, or to remove extra cables after equipment has been moved or upgraded. This saves time and money.
- Color code cables for quick visual identification. Choose a color scheme that works for you and your team for each cable’s function or use. For larger installations, such as across floors or offices, you may also choose to use color coding for the cable’s destination.
Disorganized cabling installations cause needless headaches for data center owners and operators by using up valuable time and resources for management and mitigation of problems. Follow these best practices to ensure that cabling infrastructure will meet your data center needs now and into the future. Proper cable management is not an option. It’s mission critical.
McSweeny is the business administrator for Data Specialties, Inc. (DSI). His primary focus is working with customers and primary business partners to make certain that all DSI installations meet all customer expectations. As a licensed attorney, McSweeny is able to ensure that all projects meet city, state, and federal regulations with respect to the construction and operation of facilities. Along with his qualifications as a general contractor, he has more than 20 years of experience in the design and construction of data centers, including extensive background in cabling and network infrastructure.
Really informative article Jon! Like you said, cable management is the foundation of any data center. A great way of achieving efficient cable management is by using DCIM software. This also helps measure power and network connectivity with visual trace routes, cable measurements, and port connectivity.
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