Photo courtesy of Flickr: Kim Scarborough
If there is one thing I love, it is spaghetti. In fact, the only thing I love more than a plate of spaghetti is a second plate of spaghetti. But spaghetti has its place (in my belly, for example), and one area where I can't stand a bunch of noodles is in my server room. If you find yourself facing a mess of wires, fiber optic cables, and power cables on your server rack or are currently setting up your server space for the first time, take a few minutes to read this quick post on how to organize the cabling in your server room.
Why Should I Organize My Server Room Cables?
Being as I'm somewhat obsessive-compulsive, walking into a messy server closet drives me crazy. I don't know about you, but I like order, and I find that chaos breeds more chaos. If you get started off on a messy path, you will just end up with a messy system, which, over time, will lead to a number of issues.
Outside of just looking awful, spaghetti cabling - that is, a mass of cables and wires that look like a big bowl of spaghetti - can wreak havoc on your server environment.
For starters, your fiber optic cables, power cables, and Ethernet cords can (and will) easily become twisted and mangled the longer you keep your cables mismanaged. This, in turn, causes transmission troubles, preventing the flow of data signals between your devices.
Another problem with excessive cable bundling is that it can result in overheating of equipment, as the wires block the airflow and ventilation of your system, causing too much heat and stress, which can eventually lead to slow-downs and even equipment failure.
If you run unshielded cables, keeping them bundled next to power cables will make them susceptible to radio frequency interference, as the power cables emit a certain level of electromagnetic waves that can disrupt signal transmissions.
More likely than not, your server room - like most server closets - has a limited amount of space, and as such, masses of wires and cables take up precious square footage that you do not usually have to spare. In addition, you never want to bring a client or your boss into a messy and unorganized room, as it can lead them to question whether or not this disorganization applies to other areas of your work ethic - a legitimate concern!
Finally, troubleshooting and problem resolution can, of course, become increasingly difficult - if not impossible - when you have a messy cabling situation.
All of these issues ultimately have the possibility of leading to down time, causing a significant loss of both productivity and revenue in most companies.
Server Room Cable Organization Tips
Labeling each and every cable is an important part of your organization efforts. Be sure to label both ends of the cable, so you know where each end goes if you unplug one or both ends. You can also label ports, and consider using a color-coding system as well, such as sticking with a specific color cable for different devices (for example, computers get blue, printers get red, and so forth). This will save you a lot of grief, hassle, and time.
Bundle your cables first by server, then by the bundle, then attach them to the right-hand side of your rack if possible - this ensures easy access to equipment and helps with proper airflow.
Another tip is to always use the proper-size cable for the job. Don't use long cables where short cables will do - the excess can contribute to the overall mess and tempt you to bend the excess portion of your cables, causing the issues we discussed above.
Finally, always properly document your system. This does two things - first, it helps you stay organized and remember details about the system you implemented at a later date. Second, in the event that you add to your staff or move on to greener pastures, it makes it easier to pass your system on to the next heir to your now well-organized server room kingdom!