As Halloween nears, we are here to eliminate one frightful scene that strikes fear in the hearts of cable installers and IT technicians everywhere:
Look familiar? Reddit threads and cabling publications share similar images that technicians come across in their day-to-day work in telecommunications rooms (TRs). As buildings have become more digital, more and more equipment is being squeezed into already crowded TRs, which can ultimately lead to scenes like this. We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way! So, save the Halloween scares for monsters and mayhem, while we provide some straightforward guidance on how to avoid this type of fright.
Managers, managers, and more managers.
Horizontal and vertical cable managers are available for a purpose. It’s safe to say that in the image above, some of those cables are experiencing undue strain, which can cause performance issues. Plus, that tangled mess makes moves, adds, and changes (MACs) nearly impossible! Can you imagine trying to trace a single patch cord through that mess from the switch to the patch panel? Cable fingers and cable managers provide support, and when MACs are needed, it will be easier to locate, unbundle, and manage a specific cable.
When selecting cable managers, keep in mind that managers are considered to be “full” at 50% capacity. It is easy to determine how many cable managers and the size needed based on cable fill charts, which calculate the optimally sized cable manager based on cable diameter and the number of cables in the installation. (You can find our cable capacity calculator here.)
For maximum capacity, enhanced vertical cable managers accommodate patching within the cable manager channel, freeing up rack units for critical equipment in TRs where space is at a premium. (Learn more about how Panduit cable managers can help you reduce real estate costs by 35% in our brochure.)
Go to great lengths – or not.
Many technicians assume that if 6 feet of patch cord length will comfortably reach from port to port, then 7 or 8 or 10 feet is better so that the patch cord will be long enough to reach if rack configurations change in the future. Similarly, it may be tempting to bypass cable management and run a too-short patch cord from one rack to the next. While these solutions may be an acceptable temporary fix, over time you end up with a cabling mess like that shown above. Right-size your patching to the installation, and the result is picture-perfect cable routing, which simplifies TR management.
Direct switch patching options use short (6- or 8-inch) patch cords that directly connect to a switch immediately above or below the patch panel. This solution is a textbook definition of “right-sized” for the installation, eliminating the need for horizontal cable managers and opening that rack space for other uses.
Name your cables.
Properly identifying and labeling cabling goes a long way in helping technicians with installations and MACs, even when cabling is in disarray. Labeling each patch cord with a unique identifier makes it possible for technicians to easily locate and manage a link in the future, simplifying MACs and TR management. Standards spell out some protocols for labeling cables, like using machine-generated labels and labeling each connection at each end. Additionally, however, it is critical that the identification system is documented and kept current to facilitate system upgrades and simplify troubleshooting, repairs, and MACs. (If you’re looking for guidance on labeling, we recommend you check out our new line of mobile printers powered by Epson.)
Consider going smaller.
Smaller gauge cabling will also do wonders for the TR. At half the size of traditional 24-gauge patch cords, 28-gauge patch cords deliver the same performance and will allow you to more than double the number of patch cords that fit in a standard cable manager. For instance, a 4-inch cable manager will fit 213 Category 6 24-gauge patch cords or 523 Category 6 28-AWG patch cords – a 146 percent increase.
The smaller cables create smaller bundles that fit in standard manager fingers better; and because they are smaller and more flexible, they are simply easier to route and manage, helping eliminate “temporary” patching that slowly becomes more permanent, resulting in TRs that are impossible to manage.
By implementing some or all of these changes, your TRs should become easier to install, troubleshoot and manage. They will no longer haunt you but instead will be a strong asset in managing your network and your building.