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Clean and tidy wiring closet

Server rack, patch panels, and NETGEAR ProSafe 24 Port 10/100 Switch

Many server rooms are built with little or no regard for organization. Our Server room cabling nightmare gallery showcases one such server room.

Fortunately, this wiring closet, posted to our sister site Webshots by rickkds, is a fine example of planning and proper design.

© Webshots - rickkds

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

55 comments
scarttian
scarttian

excellent Qos, congratulations!

astansel
astansel

VOIP, VOIP, CAT6a more VOIP, throw in some SIEMON 10G angled patch panels and vertical managers a little velcro and you got your self a closet. The only way to truely keep the closets clean, is to cable everything up and use NAC or something of the sort to manage what devices can utilize the network. In other words limit how often you need to touch the panels and who can do it.

windfreak2000
windfreak2000

So no provision for Fiber anywhere on the rack. How is this design future proof? Your going to back haul from/to additional closets on Cat 6e? (not likely).. No high speed backbone visible..

greg
greg

I have to say I'm disappointed. Why you would use 66 blocks for telco - other than being cheap is disappointing. Once wired with endless cross connects it will be a disaster not to mention it leaves you with a crappy upgrade stategy for voip. Also... is that Cat3 for the telco side??? On a new install, most of the money you spend is on labor.. Put in a decent cable. Lastly, that rack, is not a server rack, it is a two post telco rack. Have I seen people put tower servers in them, yes. Is that something supported or even recommended to do in an earthquake zone. Hell no.

holowenko
holowenko

Nice job. Too bad you screwed it up by binding the cat5e with zap-straps!

elcid1989
elcid1989

however, like some have said here already, lack of labels, ect, plus, I would have moved the first switch to above the punch down panel, and moved one from the bottom up so that the layout is: switch, patch panel, patch panel, switch, switch, patch panel, patch panel, switch.but then again, I would have used a cisco 4506 and just put in 4 blades to take advantage of the 10Gb backplane myself!

Tedt-NJ
Tedt-NJ

A few notes: I just finished the technology for a data center with 6,000 servers and 120,000 patch cords: fiber and copper. My center is every bit as neat and then some. We do not tightly tie wrap as that induces cross talk. We twist bundles to avoid cross talk as well. Patch cords are multi-color not to differentiate usage, but to provide eye-color for tracing. All patch cords are serialized as we do not put labels on most patch cords save those that enter a server (at the server side only) and on switch-to-switch trunks. All are in cable management troughs special design (for us) ladder racks and fingers. Sizes of patch cords (lengths) are standardized, with enough loop for service, but not too long. Nothing extends beyond a patch frame or cabinet. All cable routes are overhead. Most patch panels are suspended from the overhead ladder rack. Some switches local to cabinets are also mounted via the overhead ladder rack. No patches are permitted between cabinets, all must pass through the patch frames.

delaorden
delaorden

looks nice; it is a pity that the user of this neat machine has passed away and is longing to mess it up...

dean.owen
dean.owen

But it requires diligence. The moment you start to slip into a messy rack it doesn't take long to hit bottom. I've seen too many 'temporary' patch cable setups become permanent snake pits.

dan.jordan
dan.jordan

Yeah, I was a virgin once, too. Now look at me.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

I hope that they're using a schematic."Can we drill holes in your floors"?"Can we crawl around in your ceiling"?Building to building with microwaves.Even security systems would be wireless."This wire puller should work".1/10 the cost with wireless.

lesko
lesko

All my cable closets look just like that. We never have to touch them once installed. The most we ever had to touch them is to add another switch in the stack. The toughest thing we had to do with one stack was replace a switch and having a tidy setup made this easy. One suggestion though is to leave a space either above or below each switch that is the same height (u) as the switch this way when you need to replace a switch you can slide the new one either above or below and then move the patches from the old to the new one for one, this makes things go a lot quicker.

icedivr
icedivr

There's a lot of outdated tech in that room. The phones are terminated on 66 blocks, and the "finger duct" will be a hinderance after any MAC work. The two greatest decisions I ever made (with respect to my cabling) was to terminate the phones on Cat 5 / RJ-45 jacks, and use 1' patch cables to connect switch ports to patch panel ports. The cables are too short to get tangled up. The phone wiring we did allows us to transition to VoIP without any rewiring. (re-patching, yes)

Systems Magician
Systems Magician

I noticed you have yellow patch cable instead of orange on one of the pictures. Looks like you are color coding equipment, good. We did the same. Servers, printers, gateway links, etc. If you have a downed switch, you get a visual right away of what is affected. I hope you manage to document which switch port goes to each home run. Helps with VLAN management specially when you move people around often. (One manager I worked with thinks it is a good tool to change seating plan every 4 months)

billh
billh

I wish mine looked even 1/1mil as good as that. Ours got so bad that some even stopped using the patch panel and went directly to switches lol.

PatG1
PatG1

Notice its not plugged in?!?!

col1jgh
col1jgh

Approved standards state that zip ties should not be used anytime, Velcro, and "J" hooks are the approved method of securing cabling. There are many reasons why but some of the most obvious is that a growing business will need more cabling and you run the risk of cutting the cable when you add more drops. I did notice something that you showed that most people forget, the cable protection on the end of the conduit. Lastly, and maybe I just did not see it, where are your service loops. You should have one in the ceiling prior entering the conduit, on both sides. Hopefully, you do not feel "bashed" just giving my opinion so it may aid you in the future.

erikmidtskogen
erikmidtskogen

Where are the servers? My server room looked about like that until I brought in dozens of actual machines of all different shapes and sizes and then hooked up the Windows ones with KVMs and then had extra machines suddenly show up (but always only on a "temporary" basis). Actually, I've managed to keep the mess fairly contained within each server rack. Until you open those doors, everything looks as clean and tidy as a CEO's desk.

keyboards
keyboards

How many freakin times can you look at a virgin 66 and say "okay,so it looks nice NOW"??????

FAST!!!
FAST!!!

This looks really great! But it's true, unfortunately it may not last for long. It appears that almost every patch panel jack is cross-connected to a switchport so you can only hope that the desktop and server guys will keep their mitts off of it... Good luck!!!

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

It looks absolutely beautiful. It's a monument to Executive Management. And in a year or so you'll be cursing everytime you have to do anything with it. There are at least two things you need to plan slack into to improve usage over time: projects, and wiring. Those cables are so taut that if you get one wire break, you have to replace the entire cable. The bundles being wire-tied together make it impossible to shorten the loops anywhere to get enough slack to redo a broken wire without cutting the ties; and also make it impossible to remove a bad cable, or replace it by tying the end of the good one to the end of the bad one as you pull it through - especially as I don't see any pull lines left in place to run more cable at a later date.

Dr. Tarr
Dr. Tarr

Almost every new construction project I have ever been associated with started out looking like this. It's easy to be pretty when you are doing the initial install. Show me a data center that looks like this while in production and I'll be impressed.

patclem
patclem

Every time I encounter a tight bundle of patch cables behind those fancy covers, I cringe. I know that following that cable puts me at higher risk of unplugging the wrong thing. Tight bundles only serve the obsessive compulsive and are generally impractical and waste time. That being said, I'm not implying that patch cables should be excessively long, or draping across the front of a rack so you can't get your equipment in or out. I'm not saying you shouldn't have a proper patch labeling or color coding system. I'm saying there's a good compromise between this and real functionality. If you have pretty wires, I hope you have a window on your data closet so those that don't know better can see what a great job you've done! (actually, I've seen that before too!) PS - the worst closet I've ever seen had a poncho draped over it for when the kitchen sink upstairs leaked. This was in a hospital! We got that one fixed.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Neatness counts, but it cannot overcome the need for good labeling. I can't tell from the picture if any of the incoming cables are labeled(I'm sure it is just a limitation of the pictures). I also label each end of my patch cables, so I can readily tell what port of my switch is going to what patch panel port. As far as keeping it neat - each New Year's Day I come in and rip all the cables out and "re-do" the rack. My server room has a glass wall and my boss just loves to walk clients around and show them "the brains" of the outfit ;)

maxgiusto
maxgiusto

Wait till one of those network cables needs to be replaced, try explain to the boss why it took 3 hours to replace one cable

H3144-IT
H3144-IT

Where are the Servers, UPS, the Monitor, RAID, etc. Then we can talk...

efairlie
efairlie

I have some pics that I recently took... but exactly the opposite... how can I send to this site...?? thank you very much.

brianmilke
brianmilke

That's a great view of the back of the switches, coming from the servers, but where is the wiring going to the various clients? Also, this set of switches is obviously not in use, they aren't even plugged in... So I would say this is a pristine example of wiring if nothing is in use, but let's see this room after everything is up and running...

darrton
darrton

Virgin cabling is always neat. Given time and many hands it will flourish into a cabling nightmare.

astoddard
astoddard

If you really want to "prove it" come back with pictures of the same rack in 5-10 years

eric.gibson
eric.gibson

Mine started out looking like this, but keeping it looking like this is almost a full time job. Equipment gets relocated a lot here, and it's hard to keep things looking this nice. Sigh...

jerken
jerken

I'm sorry but I agree with the way it has been done. The blue wires are running out to the work stations and as long as you don't have a rodent problem in your building or have constant earthquakes that flex your wires, these wires should never need to be replaced. I do agree that you don't want to tighten then down as tight as you can (the German word "goodntight" works here) but permanent tie straps that don't let your wires flop around and keep it looking clean are a good device to use.

jerken
jerken

Could you please post some pictures of your system and put a link here in this thread so those of us who appreciate a large clean install can see it. I know it would be a pain-in-the-butt for you to take the time to do this but I would really love to see it.

jerken
jerken

Wow, that is nice. Are those custom made patch cables? You know you can still improve the looks, if you take some tie straps and... HaHa.

keeneydj
keeneydj

See this rack? It is such a nice rack. They are doing a good job. I like good lookin' racks like that. ...Ok enough about good lookin' "racks". So many of you people are just goin' on and on about how this thread's server rack is never gonna be able to maintained. Why not? It looks good to me, and ya know, maybe they actually know what they're doing. Maybe they won't have to mess with all the 'tards coming in and screwin with their stuff like the rest of you ill posters probably would. Point is, I think you guys are just jealous of his nice ass rack. ;) ...had to get one more "rack" joke in there. Anyway, damned good looking job maestro. There were some good ideas in this thread though. I would take some heed in this situation.

jerken
jerken

I also noticed that you didn't read any of the previous posts.

dan.metheny
dan.metheny

I agree with all of the other posters who stated the obvious....where are the users and servers connected? How will this look once you need to cut the cable ties to replace/trace a cable (and you WILL)? Must be an all-wireless LAN with a switch that may be used in the future... A brand new car looks nice and shiny and new like this too....until you get it home and you take your kids on a road trip in it. Pretty? Sure. Practical? Not in my world.

erikmidtskogen
erikmidtskogen

What I usually do is to add a 2' long loop of extra wire to the entire bundle behind the patch panel rack. The wires going into the back of the patch panels aren't going to be attached and reattached individually during the expected lifetime of the patch panel. That's sort of the whole point of having patch panels to begin with. Maybe the patch panel rack itself will need to move a few feet at some point, and that's why I've added extra wire to the whole bundle. But bundling the wires together with ties after they come out of the conduit is not a problem, because I'm not going to be adding or removing wires individually. One bundle of wires corresponds to one patch panel rack. There is no more reason for the back of a patch panel to be messy than there is reason for the electrical wiring or plumbing of the building to be a rat's nest. What usually does get chaotic is what happens on the front of those patch-panels.

jruby
jruby

but we have the Corporate Cable Critic (but who is usually called other names not allowed here) who makes a regular pass through the hundreds of racks to make sure standards are being met. Of course, we have CEO's, CIO's, and other customer stuffed shirts who tour our datacenters on a regular basis, so our clean cabling is actually a marketing tactic. Jim /* If you think the problem is bad now, wait until I fix it! */

mikec
mikec

PS - the worst closet I've ever seen had a poncho draped over it for when the kitchen sink upstairs leaked. This was in a hospital! We got that one fixed. How long ago was this? That just sounds insane to me. How much water was leaking?

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler moderator

Send me a private message using the Send Private Message link on my profile page. I'll let you know how to send me the images.

runningwolf
runningwolf

The blue ethernet cables on the back run out to various ports in the walls of the building. That's where your clients and servers plug in at their locations. The orange cables on the front view are from the patch panel to the switches.

davemontalvo
davemontalvo

Having worked for Verizon for the past seven years support a variety of fortune 500 customer networks (the latest Kaiser Permanente) from cable plants to routers & switches and server farms alike, I have seen the welcomed trend of ?quality and pride? in workmanship take hold in the IT networking world. Long overdue from the 90's chaos of short sided pessimists? (many of whom have comments in this article) who are reactive instead of proactive in building and supporting a network infrastructure, professionally! After all, a network is a reflection upon the network administrator?s efforts or lack there-of. So keep up the good work and don?t forget your network documentation too. There are professionals out here that do appreciate supporting networks as fine as yours.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I sure as hell hope you never have a dead cat5 on that install. Hard tied? Saw it a lot when working as a network admin for a large telephone company. They soon changed when cables were an issue. Proper structured cabling with velcro ties can replace a single run without a 3 day headache.

I had a rack that looked like that at one time. Then we started using it, The first thing to go were all the zip-ties, then the matching cable colors, then the phone guys got to it. Five years later we cleaned out all the wires that no longer went to anything. Even the Data Centers I have been in are not that neat. Was this designed by Management?

I had a rack that looked like that at one time. Then we started using it, The first thing to go were all the zip-ties, then the matching cable colors, then the phone guys got to it. Five years later we cleaned out all the wires that no longer went to anything. Even the Data Centers I have been in are not that neat.

pinballfrank
pinballfrank

I wonder what it will look like after the servers, modems, routers, switches and patch cables are installed? Please post that photo!

bwilliams
bwilliams

Um, Is everybody posting to this forum missing the obvious, such as... where are the patch cables themselves??? It's nice to say that it will be neat, but unless we see a photo of how they loomed the cables and mounted the servers, then of course any rack would look neat if it was empty. I'm a big fan of the slotted cable managers otherwise, and would definitely recommend them over the typical Krone ones.

hijackthat5
hijackthat5

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DuctTapeNHammer
DuctTapeNHammer

Velcro cable ties are the only thing I use now. I found 3 dead cables due to over tightened zip ties on a past install. What a headache.

stangaroo
stangaroo

Velcro is required by the CAT6 spec. Plastic cable ties tend to be installed too tight on the bundle and can change the electrical characteristics of the cable.

kkopp
kkopp

I have to agree on this one. We moved into our building not even a year ago and I've had to add 6 wires in the first 6 months. The first thing to go were the plastic cable ties. Velcro is my friend..... :)