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Server Rack Cable Management: 4 Expert Tips and how to make it right

avoid tangled cables in network rack

Efficient cable management in your network cabinet brings you a multitude of advantages: Faster troubleshooting, easier maintenance, optimised airflow and many more.

In our server rack cable management tips we show you how to avoid messy cable management and expert advice on how to keep your network rack tidy.

1. Plan the network cabinets ahead

Good planning is half the battle. Firstly, an operator should consider what requirements the network must meet. Is it a one-time setup that no longer needs to be touched, or is it a high-maintenance environment with critical downtime?

The requirements of data centers also differ greatly from those of network cabinets. An operator should therefore plan his cable management appropriately and consider the arrangement of the components. This also includes providing space for cable ducts or rack units (RU) for cable management.

There are multiple possibilities ranging from classic 19″ cable management panels to island solutions from cabinet manufacturers to complete solutions such as the PATCHBOX® for cable management. However, the shortest or most direct route is not always the best.

Cables should not run directly from one component to the next, as this would make access to servers and other hardware components much more difficult. It will cause dreaded chaos over time. It’s rather advisable to use horizontal cable management to guide the cables to the rail edge, where they are bundled at the side and directed to the target component.

Finally, planners should rely on electrical circuit diagrams. The cables should always run in straight horizontal and vertical lines and in the right angle. 

2. Label all Cables

Identifying and labelling cables is essential for simple and future-proof work on the network. It is always a good idea to attach a label at both ends. It is also worthwhile to be consistent and comprehensible in order to make it easier for colleagues to work on the cabinet. The choice of labels is also crucial. Use adhesive labels that don’t fall off at the first touch to save yourself some trouble.

Also, a clear assignment of cable colours to functions can make work much easier. For example: blue = printer, white = telephone, red = critical.

Implementing colour coding also makes it easier for colleagues to find their way around the network.

3. Avoid excess cable lengths

Excess cable lengths are dangerous because they will lead to chaos. Luckily, there are several ways to solve this problem. You can measure the required lengths of patch cables in advance and only buy and use the needed length. This might not always be feasible and costs a lot of time.

Another solution would be to assemble to the required cable length. In addition, operators can fall back on helping systems such as the PATCHBOX® Fiber Optic. With its retractable cables, it always provides the appropriate cable length – no more messy network racks.

It is recommended to avoid cable management systems in which the cables are only out of sight – i.e. 1U brush panels. Although such systems provide a neat appearance at the front, knots, kinks and cable spaghetti occur on the back of the 19-inch unit.

SOLUTIONS SUCH AS THE PATCHBOX® GREATLY SIMPLIFY CABLE MANAGEMENT BY ACCOMMODATING EXCESS LENGTHS.

After the assembly of patch cables, a measurement with a quality tester should be carried out in any case in order to ensure that data transmission corresponding to the desired standard can take place. This step can ultimately prevent a lot of additional work.

4. Use High Quality Cables

Those who save on cables end up paying twice as much and must expect poor shielding, small strand diameters and even copper-coated aluminium cores as conductors. These can break more easily and also have a worse electrical conductivity than copper. The AWG number (American Wire Gauge) indicates the diameter of the conductor. The smaller this value is, the larger the conductor cross-section and thus also the electrical conductivity.

Data and power cables should always be routed separately, otherwise electromagnetic interference (EMI) can occur. With shielded cables, the risk of signal interference from EMI and radio interference (RFI) is lower. Nevertheless, it is important to ensure separate routing. This is known in theory, but not always implemented in practice.