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Server Rack Cable Management: What Is the Best Practice?

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Data centers today consist of rows of server racks and network cabinets to support an abundance of data cables, power cords and network devices. Deliver proficient cable management within a confined and tightly-spaced server rack is quite difficult. However, cable management is no longer a nightmare if you follow the right guide and work with some test-and-tried tools. Here we’d like to offer useful advice for server rack cable management, and recommend some efficient and reliable management tools.

server rack cable management

Server Rack Cable Management Benefits

Server rack cable management, if not being handled properly, could bring you a succession of problems – it would result in cable damage and failure, which directly lead to data transmission errors, performance issues and system downtime. On the contrary, successful cable management in server rack can benefit you in every aspects, including:

Improved system performance: server rack cable management demands to separate power and data cables within the racks, which greatly decrease the chance for crosstalk and interference.

Enhanced availability: Effective server rack cable management allows easier access to cables and IT devices, yet to reduce human error.

Improved maintenance and serviceability: Effective rack cable management also ensures easier and safer access to individual components.

Increased cooling efficiency: let hot exhaust air out from the back, server rack cable management keeps cables organized and out of critical airflow paths.

Improved scalability: cable management in server rack simplifies moves, adds, and changes, making it easier to integrate additional racks and components for future growth.

Server Rack Cable Management Guide

Since we’ve made clear the benefits of server rack cable management, here is a step-to-step guide for you to further explain how to do it correctly:

  • Plan appropriately. It greatly contributes to smooth server rack management process. Consulting a professional cabling contractor can always be beneficial.
  • Determine the routes for power and data cables. Determine if they enter from the top or bottom of the server rack. Then plan the routes to separate power and data cables, and copper data cables and fiber.
  • Identify cables. Use colored cables as well as cable labers to ensure easier cable identification.
  • Route and retain cables. Cables must be protected at points where they might encounter sharp edges or heated areas. Cable ties and cable managers can be used to this end.
  • Secure cables. Cables and connectors should be secured to prevent excessive movement and to provide strain relief of critical points.
  • Avoid thermal issues. Ensure the airflow path is rather important, since restrained airflow can cause temperatures rise that would shorten devices’ expected lifespan.
  • Document and maintain organization. Documenting the complete infrastructure including diagrams, cable types, patching information, and cable counts is important.

Efficient Tools for Server Rack Cable Management

Here are top five management tools that can facilitate cable management in server racks:

1. Horizontal Cable Manager

Horizontal cable managers are excellent for any kind of cable – fiber, coax, patch cables, copper wiring and more to ensure that your cables are well-organized and protected. Horizontal cable managers come with rack-mountable 1U or 2U design, and some of them are built with finger duct and D-rings for easier finger access in server rack.

2. Vertical Cable Manager

Vertical cable manager work very well to organize and hold cables to ensure proper air flow, avoiding overheating in complex server rack environment. They’re also great for installations where you need to save space or need to make more room in the future to expand your network.

3. Cable Hangers and Trays

If you need to organize cabling within server racks, cable hangers can come in handy. Cable trays are excellent for running wires from one place to another and can be mounted on the floor or overhead in the ceiling.

4. Copper Patch Panels

For data and telecommunications networks a copper patch panel is essential. A patch panel is a board with a number of different ports to connect network wiring. Ethernet patch panels are available in a variety of different configurations depending on your cable types and needs: there are Cat5e patch panel, Cat6 patch panel and Cat6a patch panel, each with different port counts such as 24-port patch panel, 48-port patch panel, etc. Copper patch panel is also great for consolidating cables so that your server rack looks neat and organized.

5. Fiber Optic Patch Panels

Similar to data patch panels, fiber patch panels are designed specifically for fiber optic cables. Also known as termination units they can accommodate connectors, patch cables and more. Network technicians can easily connect cable fibers through cross connection, test the cable patch panel, and connect it to other network equipment. Grouping by the connector type, there are single mode and multimode LC/SC/MTP fiber patch panels with various port counts. You can also choose blank patch panel to mix and match your fiber and copper cabling.

Conclusion

Effective server rack management helps to improve physical appearance, cable traceability, airflow, cooling efficiency and troubleshooting time while eliminates the chance for human error. Hope our guide on server rack cable management would help solve your problem. FS.COM provide tailored cable management solutions for our customers, as well as management tools like cable manager, patch panelcable organizer and cable tie. If you need any help, please contact us at sales@fs.com.

Twisted-Pair Cable Plant Components

Twisted pair cable is good for transferring balanced differential signals. The practice of transmitting signals differentially dates back to the early days of telegraph and radio. The advantages of improved signal-to-noise ratio, crosstalk, and ground bounce that balanced signal transmission bring are particularly valuable in wide bandwidth and high fidelity systems. By transmitting signals along with a 180 degree out-of-phase complement, emissions and ground currents are theoretically canceled. This eases the requirements on the ground and shield compared to single ended transmission and results in improved EMI performance.

A twisted-pair cable plant requires more than just the cabling, which is usually sold in spools of 1000 feet. In addition, you find most of the following components:

● RJ-45 connectors — Whether STP or UTP, most twisted-pair cabling uses registered jack 45 (RJ-45) connectors to plug into network interfaces or other networked devices. This connector looks much like the RJ-11 connector on modular phone jacks, but it’s larger and contains eight wire traces rather than the four or six in an RJ-11. An RJ-45 connector (see Figure 4-3), often called an RJ-45 plug, is most commonly used in patch cables, which are used to connect computers to hubs and switches and computers to RJ-45 wall jacks.

● Patch cable — A Fiber Optic Patch Cable  is a short cable for connecting a computer to an RJ-45 jack or connecting a patch-panel port to a swich or hub. Patch cables can be made with inexpensive tools, two RJ-45 plugs, and a length of TP cable, which you do later in Hands-On Project 4-1. Although making a patch cable is easy, most network administrators prefer buying ready-made cables to save time.
● RJ-45 jacks — An RJ-45 jack is what you plug an RJ-45 connector into when the computer is in a work area away from hubs and swiches. It has a receptacle for an RJ-45 plug on one side and a place to terminate, or “punch down,” the TP cabling on the other side. RJ-45 jacks are usually placed behind wall plates when cables are run inside walls but can also be recessed into the fllor or placed in surace-mounted boxes if the cabling runs on the outsite of walls.

● Patch panel — Patch panels are used to terminate long runs of cable from the work area (where the computer are) to the wiring closet (where the swiches and hubs are). Patch panels are like RJ-45 jacks, in that they have a receptacle on one end and punchdown terminals on the other, but a patch panel can usually accommodate 12,24,or 45 cables. Figure 4-6 shows the front side of a patch panel, where a patch cable plugs in, and the back side, where long runs of cable are terminated.

● Distribution racks — Distribution racks (also called 19-inch racks because the upright rails are 19 inches apart) hold network equipment, such as routers and swiches, plus patch panels and rack-mounted servers. They’re usually found in wiring closets and equipment rooms. Figure 4-7 shows a typical distribution rack.

 Related Article:  Which Patch Cable Should I Choose for My Optical Transceiver?

Video Patch Panel With Patch Cable

The jacks commonly used in patch panels in the U.S. conform to Western Electric standard dimensions. The number of insertion cycles a jack can endure should be rated in the tens of thousands. The factors affecting the life and reliablility of a jack include contact wear and failure of the termination switch. Descirable features include the following:

● Contacts fully isolated from the panel.
● Sealed metal housing to keep out contaminants and provide EMI protection.
● Easy replacement from the front of the panel.
● Low VSWR (below 600 MHz)
● High signal isolation (40 dB)
● 75 Ω characteristic impedance.
● Wide designation strips, making it easier to label the field and to allow more flexibility in selecting names that will fit on the lables.

If a patch cable is inserted in the signal path of a timed video system, it will delay the signal by an amount determined by its length and physical properties. The patch thereby alters the timing of the signal path. This can be avoided by using phase-matched normal-through fiber patch panels. The design of these patch panels anticipates the delay caused by a fixed length of patch cable by including that length in the loop-through circuit.

With phase-matched panels, the normaling connection in each connector module includes a length of cable that provides a fixed delay through the panel, usually 3 ft (0.914m). If a patch cord of the same length as the internal cable is used to make connections between patch points, the delay will be the same as that of the normal-through panel. When a fiber optic patch cord is plugged in, it is substituted for the loop cable through the swiching mechanism normally used in normalled patch connectors. Thus, critical timing relationships can be maintained.

In a normal uncompensated patch panel, when a cable is used to patch between two points on the panel, the length of the patch cord is added to that of the cables connected to the patch. The additional cable length delays the signal by approximately 1.52 ns/ft (5 ns/m). To avoid the delays associated with conventional patch panels, phase-matched normal-through video patch panels should be used.

If phase-matched patch panels are used, all of the patch cord must be the same length as the delay built into the patch panel. Obviously, if all of the patch cords must be the same short length for the phase-matched panel, it would not be possible to patch between panels that are separated by a longer distance than the cord can reach. This limitation should be considered when laying out patch panels in a fiber enclosure.

Color-coded cables can be specified. When different-length patch cords are specified, different colors can be used to distinguish one length from another for better cable management.

Fiberstore specializes in fiber optic patch cable assemblies and fiber optic network devices manufacturing since 1995, we are known as the fiber optic cable manufacturer for the excellent products quality, competitive prices, fast delivery and good service.  Our fiber optic cables are available with combinations of LC, SC, ST, FC, and MTRJ connectors and come in 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 meter lengths (and OM3 cables up to 30 meters).  We offer LC fiber optic cable, SC fiber optic patch cables, SC LC fiber patch cable ect. We not only offer OEM fiber optic patch cord assemblies to some world leading companies in this industry, but  also cooperate with many other companies from all over the world and support these partners to win in the market.