Cabling disasters, network spaghetti, these are just two terms that describe something that’s all too common within the IT industry. When networking is done right, it can be a beautiful thing; however, when the cabling isn’t managed properly, disaster tends to strike. If you’ve been in the industry for any amount of time, there’s a good chance you have seen what I’m talking about – network racks that become overrun with unmanaged cable, sometimes completely concealing the rack itself. These disasters can happen quickly and easily, so being aware of how they are created is imperative.
The network cabling doesn’t typically start out a mess – it’s the moves, adds or updates to the network that can cause a chaotic cabling disaster. Often times a new connection has to be made – either to a new server, piece of networking gear, or just a new connection on an existing switch, to accommodate network growth. When this is needed, a technician would likely run a cable directly from that new equipment to the patch panel with whatever cord they can get their hands on at the time. They do so with the assumption that it is a unique event, or that they will return at a later time to dress it up properly; however, this is usually unlikely to happen.
Quickly one cable turns into five, then ten, and eventually the entire front of the rack becomes indistinguishable from what it was at the start. As more and more cables are installed improperly, it becomes exponentially more difficult to clean up and sometimes it becomes impossible to service the equipment behind the new wall of cables. The clean-up required to rearrange and simplify these disasters is extensive and extremely time-consuming, creating a mountain of work for the technician.
There is no single reason why a rack becomes a mess, but the majority of reasons come down to time and planning. There’s not enough time to route the cable properly or obtain a cable of the proper length, so a quick patch is done. The problem with quick patches, is that it ends up costing more time in the long run to reverse these quick-fixes. More time spent on the installation helps to avoid more time spent on the back-end with clean up.
Ensuring the selection of proper physical infrastructure and cabling is paramount to maintaining a clean and reliable network. Avoid the disasters that plague other networks and share with us examples of your own clean racks by tweeting us @c2g with the hashtag #DataCenterDisaster.
Looking for how to avoid these cabling disasters? Check back next week for our next blog! “Avoiding Cabling Disasters” for more information!