Network cabling is one of the common tasks our customers perform when working with network equipment. Whether it’s adding a new desktop for a new employee, moving an existing desktop or installing new servers this common task can become quite burdensome when your network rack looks like spaghetti. There are a few tips when working with cable management that I’ve found helpful, stocking proper cable lengths and colors, using proper network enclosures and using cable management to your advantage.
It’s important to include a cabling budget within your network expenses so you can stock up on the network cables you’re most likely to use. Having the proper cable lengths and a variety of colors will help keep your cabling clean. Proper lengths have less slack to hide/bundle up and making sure you have the proper colors will help you stay in-line with your color coding (if you have one). I would recommend 10 of each 2’,3’,5’,10’ and 15’ in each color you use (try sticking to 1-3 meaningful colors in order to simplify ordering and reduce the potential of reusing colors for an undesignated purpose). If you don’t have a color code (and your rack looks like a rainbow right now) I would recommend using a neutral color for all of your low-voltage network cabling (I prefer grey).
Proper cable management is a bit tricky to order, price and install properly. Most racks I run into that become spaghetti messes are actually server racks that were never meant as cable plants. These often do not support vertical cable management and require constant supervision to make sure cabling stays “neat”. The best recommendation here is to start planning for a network enclosure that supports vertical cable management and is meant to house a number of network connections.
Network enclosures are often wider and will at times have ready-to-go cable management.
CPI’s N-Series TeraFrame
Cable management has evolved a long way and there are some new advantages and designs that you can take advantage of to optimize your rack space and cable management. Common cable plant design place a horizontal cable management tray sandwiched between two 48-port patch panels. I’ve found that this always leads to cabling issues when the last two suggestions are not taken into account. Next time you have the opportunity to cable a new patch panel or even take on the daunting task of re-cabling an existing plant consider this:
Place your 1U switches between your patch panels and cable management. Use a cable management tray that allows for a good amount of slack inside of it (no more running cable all over the place to get a proper length).
Recently, PEI did this with a build-out of our Headquarters office.
Using the NeatPatch horizontal cable management trays and a good amount of 2’ cables we were able to wire 96 ports and 2 uplinks in a 10U space without any vertical cable management. Super clean and very easy to manage.
Next time you take a look at your network rack give these ideas a thought and as always contact us if you could use a little help in your redesign. Do not let the headache and wasted hours of managing your network cables go on any longer.
-Mitch Mahan, PEI