Trends such as high density servers, converged infrastructure, and high availability result in an abundance of power and data cables within IT racks. Data center professionals also recognize the negative impact that messy cable management within an IT rack has on efficiency, on uptime, and on the overall look and feel of their data centers.
A system operator or employee can be easily confused by a mess of cables, which often results in human error.
A study by The Uptime Institute estimates that human error causes roughly 70% of the data center downtime.
Effective rack power and data cable management can reduce human error and leads to a number of IT infrastructure benefits including:
- Enhanced availability through reduced downtime.
- Improved system performance through reduced crosstalk and interference between power and data cables.
- Improved maintenance and serviceability by allowing easier and safer access to individual components.
- Increased cooling efficiency by allowing hot exhaust air to escape out the back of the rack.
- Improved scalability by simplifying moves, adds, and changes.
We’ve just released a new White Paper titled “Planning Effective Power and Data Cable Management in IT Racks”. In this paper, we discuss seven steps which can help to achieve a clean and well organized data center with improved physical appearance, cable traceability, cooling efficiency and airflow, and reduced troubleshooting time while reducing the risk of human error. I’ve summarized the seven steps here:
Step 1: Plan. Planning is the first step for power and data cable management in IT racks, and when done properly, it facilitates all of the steps below. A professional cabling contractor with detailed statement of work (SOW) is normally recommended to complete the entire project.
Step 2: Determine the routes for power and data cables. First, determine if the power and data cabling will enter from the top or bottom of the rack. Next, determine the routes to separate power and data cables, copper data cables and fiber, which can prevent erratic or error-prone data transfers.
Step 3: Identify cables. Good cable identification and administration is an investment in infrastructure. Implement best practices like using colored cables combined with labeling cables can ensure cable identification.
Step 4: Route and retain cables. Cables must be protected at points where they might rub or come in contact with sharp edges or heated areas. Cable management accessories like “waterfall”, flexible cable tie, and cable management arms can be used to route and retain cables.
Step 5: Secure cables and connectors. Cables and connectors should be secured to prevent excessive movement and to provide strain relief of critical points.
Step 6: Avoid thermal issues. Ensure the airflow path is clear of obstructions. If airflow is restricted, component temperatures can rise. Sustained higher temperatures can shorten devices’ expected lifespan and cause unexpected failures resulting in unscheduled system downtime.
Step 7: Document and maintain organization. Documenting the complete infrastructure including diagrams, cable types, patching information, and cable counts is important for future cable management. IT leaders must lead the way to organization by committing to constructing standard procedures and verifying that they are carried out.
For high density IT racks and network racks, besides the seven steps above, some unique requirements need to be addressed for cable management. If you want to know more about power and data cable management in IT racks, feel free to download and read this latest white paper.
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