Computer cable management is an important task but often gets neglected or overlooked. From your very own office desk to the tens or hundreds of servers in a data center, disorganized cabling can eventually lead to a “spaghetti mess” — a phenomenon not only hurtful to the eyes but one that can lead to a wealth of serious problems. Thus, it is salient to get cable management right.
What is Data Center Cabling?
Data centers usually use three main kinds of network cabling: AC/DC power, ground, copper, and fiber optic. To determine which type of cabling should get equipped, you may refer to the interface available on the equipment used in the data center. Additionally, you may also determine specific network data cabling needs based on the data center equipment’s bandwidth requirements.
Data Center cabling may fall under either of two categories: structured or unstructured. When predefined standards based on design, with preset connection points and pathways, are employed, it follows a structured cabling design. Specifically, structured cabling enforces a cabling design based on the bandwidth requirements of the system. After testing to ensure good performance, the cables will then get organized and labeled. While a structured cabling system may take longer to install and may initially pose a higher cost, in the long run, the operational costs will significantly be lower, and the system’s lifespan will remarkably be longer than that of an unstructured approach.
Contrarily, cabling systems that do not utilize predefined standards, connection points, or pathways are known as Unstructured cabling, also called Point to Point cabling systems. Because of airflow restrictions, this cabling system might lead to cooling issues and higher energy costs. Given that unstructured cabling does not use preset plans or designs, managing system growth will be more challenging since there is no guide to guide changes in cable locations or run new cabling. Although it may take less time to install and pose fewer initial costs, ultimately, unstructured cabling will end in higher operational costs and a shorter system lifespan.
Why is it Important?
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 cabling types, ranging from all-copper installation to all-fiber installation and everything in between (depending on your equipment and 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.
Plan the installation of additional hardware in advance. Wiring turbulence can affect airflow and cooling patterns. The plan prevents damage from sudden temperature rises due to restricted air movement. Label both ends of the
cable firmly. This labeling process makes it easy to find cables that can be used for testing and repair, installing new equipment, or removing additional cables after moving or upgrading equipment, saving time and money.
color-coded cables for quick identification. Choose the color scheme that suits you and your team. It is recommended to include a legend that shows the meaning of the color of each cable. You can also color-code the cable destinations. This is especially true for large installations that span floors and offices.