Tips for cable management

When the data and power cables in your network or server rack look like tangled vines, the lack of organization can lead to accidental disruption of service. An organized rack decreases human errors, increases efficiency and better protects equipment by increasing effective airflow, particularly in an enclosure. By using the correct cable management accessories to organize, route and remove unnecessary stress on your cables, you can better ensure data integrity.

Racks and enclosures can become disorganized quickly if cable management doesn’t remain an ongoing priority. As a critical point of interconnection within your business, follow these tips to ensure optimal performance of your mission-critical IT equipment.

Related resource: 7 tips for your unorganized network closet slideshow

Vertical Manager

Organization

  • Study the different cable accessory options to find out what will work with the equipment in your environment (cable trays vs. lacing bars vs. ring managers, etc.). View the glossary on page 24.
  • If you have more than one rack or enclosure, establish a standard for uniformity to keep your operation running and maintain your sanity.
  • Use Velcro rather than zip ties when bundling cables. It will make removal of cables easier.
  • Separate data and power cables to minimize signal interference.
  • Avoid running cables across the inside of a rack or enclosure. Instead, bundle cables, and run them vertically up the side of the rack or enclosure and across the top. This is where overhead cable management options come into play.
  • Make sure not to block any equipment, as this can hinder serviceability and cause overheating and/or equipment damage.
Cable Cascade

Documentation

  • Label or tag your cables on both ends to make troubleshooting easier.
  • Be consistent in your labeling or tagging methodology.
  • Group and color code your cables (servers vs. routers, etc.).
  • Document your methodology, inventory, IP addresses, serial numbers and the roles of each device.
  • Post diagrams on the side of each rack or enclosure.
  • Take front and back pictures of the equipment to help with over-the-phone troubleshooting.
  • Keep electronic and hard copy versions of your documentation.

Safety

  • Limit employee access to racks and enclosures (and even the room).
  • If a cable isn’t being used, have it removed. Loose cables are a safety hazard.
  • Limit the length of cables (the longer the cables, the greater the chaos).
  • Avoid cables that dangle, which are a target for human error.
  • Avoid extensive bending of cables; adhere to appropriate bend radius recommendations.
  • Properly and securely install power cables to minimize arc flash risk.
  • Make sure plugs are secure.
  • Ensure cables are protected from sharp objects.
  • Yellow Cables
  • Study industry standards and regulations on designing, installing and testing structured cable (e.g., TIA/EIA-568-B.1/2/3 bend radius standards).
    • Industry standards and regulations can be found through the
      • American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
      • Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)
      • Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA)
      • Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA)
      • International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
      • International Electro Technical Commission (IEC)
      • Consult your local or regional Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).

By employing some of these basic cable management strategies, you will save yourself a lot of headaches when it’s time to add, remove or revamp the equipment in your rack or enclosure.

 

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