Best 7 Practices for Clean Cable Management in Data Centers

When thinking about data center cable management, it doesn’t sound as if reorganizing a lot of cables is that hard. At ServerLIFT, we understand better than most how difficult it can be to rearrange or change anything within your data center. After all, our IT equipment handling devices help data centers execute anything from single server swaps to huge migrations every day. 

Since clean cable management affects almost every aspect of your data center’s operations—upgrading components, safely navigating pathways, optimizing air flow, and more—you need to stay on top of your cable organization, even if it’s not exactly fun. 

The following list, inspired by this article, will help you organize your cables and keep them organized. 

1. Plan and design your cable organization system

Server room size, rack equipment location, and components’ distance from each other will affect cable length and the most efficient route they can take through your building. You’ll need to measure carefully to ensure that you understand the cable lengths you’ll need to hit your desired configuration. 

And if you don’t yet have a desired configuration, now is the time to develop one. Decide between copper or fiber wiring, the bandwidth requirements of your equipment, how often you will need to upgrade, and any other factors that could alter your completed design. 

Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software lets you easily track all your designs and plans. 

2. Don’t skip the documentation

Within your DCIM software, note every cabling choice you make. The cable length, material, and route should all be clearly tracked, as well as the number and type of ports required, your current usage and total capacity, and color coordination keys. Someone unfamiliar with your data center should be able to recreate your exact setup from your notes and diagrams. 

3. Ensure connection compatibility before installation

If you’ve forgotten to ensure connection compatibility, your highly organized and beautiful organization plan does you no good. A DCIM program should help you avoid this problem, but you should also visually inspect each port to determine what kind of cable you need. 

4. Measure twice, install once

Just as you never want to cut a piece of lumber and realize it’s slightly too short for your project, the same is true for server rack cabling. Don’t forget to take vertical distances into account when you’re measuring, as well. 

5. Lay out the details for your installation team

You may not have the same team working on this project from start to finish. If one group does the measurements and planning, but another group will be responsible for the actual installation, make sure your installation team is up to speed on even the tiniest details. Proper documentation will be a helpful guide during installation, but you should make sure your DCIM solution creates work orders based on the plan you’ve double- and triple-checked. 

6. Track your performance indicators

How are your power levels, network capacity, and air flow different than they were before your cable organization efforts? Use the same DCIM to track any performance changes as they happen. 

7. Never stop planning

The changes you note will become the basis for future organization efforts and equipment upgrades. As soon as you finish one project, you can begin planning and designing your next upgrade or optimization. 

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