Servers

Dell PowerEdge R710 cable management

Getting a good "in the trenches" opinion of a new server series is difficult. In this TechRepublic blog, IT pro Rick Vanover shows how a new Dell server fares in cabling and setup.

The Dell PowerEdge R710 server was released recently when the Intel Nehalem processor was available for server OEMs. The R710 works well for the two-socket 2U server market, with a few minor irritations. One of the issues I face as an administrator is ensuring a smooth integration into the datacenter. This is mainly around cabling and just “how it feels” in a setup, as this is the detail information that is hard to get from photos available with the server. I’ve got my observations on this new server outlined below.

Cable management arm

One of the most important factors to a server is the practicality of the cable management. The R710 comes with a cable management arm and tray that work well. The arm and tray extend slightly deeper than the two-socket 2U predecessor, the PowerEdge 2950 III. The arm has a nice built-in containment using hoop and fabric connections. Figure A below shows the arm and tray:

Figure A

Figure C

Power strain relief

Pretty much all servers irritate me in this regard, as there is very little strain relief for the inputs. The R710 is no exception. On this server, the power is fed through a standard C13 interface. Power connections are particularly important because they provide no assistance in protecting against accidental discharge. With the exception of USB connections, power is the only non-fixed position connections on most servers. The power connections are shown below:

Figure B

Figure B

All cabled up

When the server is all loaded up, it functions as expected. My only irritation with the power is reduced by aligning my server cabling to the right, so that there is little movement on extension of the server within the rack. The tray is pretty good, and has a better feel than the previous generation server. Figure C below shows the server all loaded up:

Figure C

Figure C

Cabling comfort is an area that isn’t well covered for servers, and when a new model is available it can be a leap of faith for many organizations. The R710 does better than its predecessor, and fits the bill nicely. Are you using this server yet? Share your comments below on connectivity.

About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

3 comments
MikeGall
MikeGall

It annoys me that so many servers have there power supplies designed to have the wires going one way. Or as they do in this model, they put both power supplies on the same side of the machine. While I'm sure it is easier to design, it makes wiring a pain. I always use different power bars for each of the power supplies, and different switches for each of the NICs. Our electricians like to wire things up so that there is one bar on the left one on the right and one in the middle of the rack. When the server vendors pick a side for everything to go, it means that one side of the rack has a bunch of extra cable and/or the other side is wired with tight cables. Yeah, I agree with TheLaowai when you have a lot of NICs on a box it becomes very complicated quickly. We often have fiber plus redundant NIC (2+), plus LOM. If everything is squeezed to one side, when you trace a network cable you end up having fun trying to sort out the soup of cables. I've started labelling both ends of the cable but that is a constant battle.

RobD.
RobD.

I've installed a couple of R710s for VMware. 8 NICs a piece, plus one CAT5 for KVM, and two 14 gauage power cables going to the Dell PDU. First, I don't like the velcro cable ties. I have heard cabling experts say not to use velcro in a server racks, as it doesn't give/flex and also generates static electricity. They recommend elstomeric cable ties that are rubber and stretch. Second, the cable trays on the arm have a crimped top. The older trays did not have this, and I don't like it. IT is not needed and just makes stuffing the 11 cables in the slot all that more difficult. I agree server cabling and rack setup are often overlooked in reviews and articles. Thanks for addressing it! -Rob

wratholix
wratholix

that is one way to really fill up the rack. how about posting us a pic? :P