Picture this (since I didn’t think about takeing pictures three years ago)… walking into an amazing laid out Data center. Raised floors, redundant CRAC units (back then I had no idea what a CRAC was) and UPS’s that stood over 6 foot tall. I was in heaven until I arrived at our cage. Equipment scattered everywhere, servers on a fold up table that bowed in the middle…. it was like an alternate universe inside of a perfect one. The worst part of it all…. the data for the whole network (at the time 350 desks) ran through a single 2950 switch.
I dove in and found that the worst was hiding underneath the floor. The main rack, that housed the two redundant routers (plugged into that single 2950 switch) and the DS3’s had everything plugged into 3 daisy chained surge protectors. I tore apart the floor panels and took out miles of old left over cables. Over time I found items to use (even found a 4 post rack) and eventually got everything so it looked like it belonged in this monstrous data center. We made a lot of changes when the Avaya was implemented and with our customer wanting to audit our center, I was able to justify a few more purchases to get us to where we needed to be. With the help from Neatpatch and RackSolutions I think we did a pretty dang good job.
We chose the Neat Patch solution for our horizontal cable management solution it is different. Most cable management solutions just enable IT’ers to get lazy and hide their cable mess inside of them. The Neat Patch solution enables you to easily take a mess of cables and work them into something beautiful. With short Fluke tested Cat6 cables provided it is easy to setup and to trace back your cables. How many of you can say it takes less then 3 seconds to trace back any of the cables from a patch panel to a network switch? I now can. Customer service is just another thing that sets Neat patch apart from their competitors. I received 96 grey cables with my order. One call to NeatPatch and they sent me out exactly the color combination I needed, no questions asked, no extra charges.
As I said earlier in the post I stumbled across a Rack Solutions 4 post rack in our basement that allowed me to get the servers off that fold up table and over to a new home. Luckily for me Rack Solutions also provides some industry leading cable management ideas as well. I was able to order a huge vertical patch panel that could house up to 88 ports in a single rack. This will allow us to no longer need to string cables up (or if we wanted to make our lifes hell, under the floor) whenever we added a new server or piece of equipment. All we needed to do was cross connect a cable through our Neat Patch solution and cross connect another cable through the Rack Solutions product and BAM, we are ready to go.
Through this process I have learned a lot about cable management and server placement inside of a proper data center environment. Here are a couple of key points I will leave you with.
- Run as few cables through your raised floor as possible. It becomes Tarzan’s favorite place in no time. Not to mention the difficulty it ads when trying to trace or run cables.
- Unless you are running in a shop with no maintenance windows, cable managers on the back of servers are a waste. They block airflow and they make cable management harder.
- Just because it looks good, doesn’t mean it is done right. Sure, you can hide tons of cables inside some of these cable management solutions but that doesn’t mean you should.
- LABEL YOUR CABLES. I cannot stress this enough. Over label your cables including power cables. You will thank me later!