While working in IT, we've come across our fair share of server rooms, IT closets, and network setups. Everyone has a different way of installing equipment and routing their respective cables; however a large emphasis should be placed on organization and cleanliness when creating the setup. We’ve seen examples of really well done cabling and examples of poorly routed cables. And then, there are examples like this:
A room like this is an extreme. Most server rooms don’t tend to get this bad, however if left unmanaged, things can quickly escalate out of control. Also, the more people involved in cable management, the more disorganized things can become as one employee may run cables one way while another may run them completely different.
Poorly routed cables can lead to an assortment of problems over time. In the above examples, cables could have been plugged into devices as they arrived or hardware mounted in the most sensible locations. This can lead to cables crossing in front of moving parts or spilling out into walkways where they can be tripped on. Not only is it messy looking, poorly routed cables can lead to decreased airflow and improper hardware management. Just imagine how difficult it would be trying to trace a cable through that mess?
Fortunately, companies like Belkin and Tripp Lite offer great cable management products. With the help of these products and a little time and effort, a server room can go from disaster to exceptional!
Better cable management can lead to increase in performance, traceability, and management. Without all those cables clumped in front of the fans, the servers can breathe a little easier, reducing the risk of overheating. Eliminating stray cables on the ground also ensures the safety of the network engineers. On top of all the operational benefits, we can’t forget how aesthetically pleasing proper cable management is either!
Here is a recent server spaghetti story from one of our engineers. Names have been omitted to protect the innocent.
"I was asked to help out in a very small, one-rack data center that, in my thoughts, was actually rather nice. It was nicely cabled, clean, and tidy. I was able to do my work quickly, and I was quite impressed by how well things were put together. On my way out, I was closing the door behind me and flipped off the lights. When the lights went out, I noticed that the room got a lot quieter. That’s when I noticed that none of the equipment was on. There were two light switches that were right next to each other, neither marked. But one turned off the power to the rack. Busted!"
Overall, proper cable management is not something to overlook. It can help with performance and ease of locating devices. If you’d like to take it one step further, don’t forget to label everything including devices and cables. You’d be amazed on how easy this makes managing your network!