Emerging Tech

Real-world server room nightmares

Duct tape solution?

Most of these pictures are messes that were inherited by admins. This is a "duct tape ramp" constructed by creative facilities personnel to direct the water from a dripping AC into a bucket in the server room.

Credit: leiby.mark

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

71 comments
TanteWaileka
TanteWaileka

My server room never looked like that, but I'm a female AND a Virgo, so MY cables were always figure-8'd and tied/labelled. However, that first picture looks quite a bit like my home office today, :). My neighbor saw it today first the first time and she said "I didn't know you were a computer genius." ha ha ha ha So I guess it depends on one's audience, if that the server room 'mess' is really a 'mess' or....

Server Rack
Server Rack

I particularly like the server pulled out with the fan resting on top of it!

Llaeti
Llaeti

We are using on our side the PatchSee intelligent patch cords.  Easy to operate and maintain : inside the PatchSee cables there are 2 Plastic fibers: I can trace the both ends of my cable with a smart lighting system . It is very helpful and easy to work. I can save much precious time.

tulaipaul
tulaipaul

Server room nightmare has become almost a routine episode with most of the server administrator. Customers (both internal and external ) have become intolerant and it is becoming an uphill task for the administrators to satisfy the demands of the consumers

fairportfan
fairportfan

Ummm - Image 11 is on it side.  Needs to rotate 90 clockwise. 

logden
logden

The worse one I ever had to support was situated in the only vacant area available, in the recess behind the women's toilets. To patch in a computer, you needed a torch to see the switches behind all the cabling and once you were done, you needed a shower to wash away all the black grime and dust on your hands and up your arms.

swshikles2002
swshikles2002

Where do I start? My God people, how do you expect anything to work when every thing looks like the snake pits pictured here???. I am glad that I have an background in aviation and IT. This crap would not fly in my world. If an airplane was wired like that - somebody would be in jail. It is very simple in nature to solve this...take pride and ownership of your server rooms, closets, networks and workmanship. So many problems can and could be prevented if the work is accomplished correctly. If you don't have the time to do something correctly then make the time. There is NO excuse for shoddy work and work ethic. I'm sorry if this came out a little strong and I stepped on some toes and this hurt some feelings but acquire a thicker skin and do the job right the first time and you won't have this problem.

t0cableguy
t0cableguy

What happened to buying a 8p8c crimper and making your own patch cables.. those 20 footers just became 8 2 foot cables after you factor in waste... I only had to show my boss one time the difference in cost of premade patch cables and DIY patch cables to get him to buy them. I do it all the time and I'm not even working in IT... and that's without bulk purchasing...

kaizoman
kaizoman

I look at these pictures and there are many that are horrors to behold. Then I see some and it's just a box, or several boxes of random crap piled up. Now, while this is annoying, and certainly isn't good for the presentation of the room, I fail to see how that is in any way horrific. If boxes were the only problem it could be fixed by anyone.

butkus
butkus

In education, you get a unused, non air conditioned room as an afterthought. You are told to move the wiring (done in 1997) out of a classroom into a "closet" with no money to move them. Have to cut a cement wall out to join two "closets", add a "portable" air conditioner (that doesn't reset should the power blink), and no sound insulation so the server just reverbs off concrete walls. The five year old serve was not capable of running Server 2008R2 so we had to host our SIS program elsewhere. Any wiring needed is done by you running wires through drop ceilings and very little funding. I don't want to talk about the "new addition" that was budgeted and built without any network or phone wiring (architect forgot about that !). So guess who learned all about network / phone wiring !

rdavidson
rdavidson

I see three main factors in the evolution of messy server rooms. First, under funded IT, whether for staff, space, supplies, or skills. Secondly, pressure. Too many last minute demands from those that under fund IT. And thirdly, the lost art of making patch cables that fit. We often work from boxes of unsorted, used patch cords or if fortunate enough to have new ones still in the plastic bag, they're all the same length... 10 footers when you only need 5's or 20 footers when you only need 2's!!

archerphil
archerphil

I've been an IT technician for many years i can instantly see what's wrong with this set up. I've got a fault on one of the network points in the room and i need to chase it back (or i want to change it from Data to Voice). Oh dear! all the same bloody colour and nicely clipped together. That's how the switches get messy in the first place. Try working in a school where they are always changing rooms and offices. Switches don't stay neat for long

imsoscareed
imsoscareed

Seems like you run this same story every 3 months.

AdeV73
AdeV73

My server room is a lot like the 1st picture, except i notice you can see the floor in that picture - which is not possible in my server room... Fortunately I only have 1 1/2 height rack, so clambering over stuff to get to the servers is not too big a deal - and they don't crash very often luckily.

jwesleycooper
jwesleycooper

My desk & bedroom looks 10x worse than many of these pics, and I don't even have a physical server in there! Well, various computer parts, but now server. ;)

rader
rader

Reminds me of the pumpkin pic during Halloween that puked out it's guts. Looks like the rack equipment puked out it's respective guts.

Mike Bird
Mike Bird

One of the main problems I've encountered over my numerous years in the biz, is to find a cab positioned with its back and one side wall positioned into the corner of a room. Yes it looks "tidy" but it makes rear access impossible and therefore compounds cabling problems. The other problem is from British Telecom's favoured trick of mounting ISDN and other LTE gear onto the wall behind a cab and then stringing their cables directly into the back of the cab. I've even proposed once ot BT that I'd give them a cab with a wooden board mouned into it to accomodate their gear, which they refused saying that "it wasn't professional", and then they came in and tried to wall mount their gear.

stevelp
stevelp

im disgusted! even with the image of the after photo just goes to show someone with a little knowledge behind a keyboard does not constitute a technician ( electrician ) with qualifications to install cables.

jmackeyiii
jmackeyiii

3.5 DISKS IS ALL THAT NEEDS TO BE SAID

blhelm
blhelm

Entertaining - yes. As a Data Center Reloction/Migration Project Manager I have seen many of these disasters. Quite often, the customer will not allow for adequate time to perform proper cabling. As a PM and former IT manager myself, I always recommend that proper time be allocated for this even offering the service to the customer. However, the customer just doesn't consider it a high priority and the cost to do it right is ALWAYS an unnessary and excessive waste of time and resources. Really??????

eternal_life
eternal_life

And thenb find it , clearout in a less then a minute, just my two sents

vishalaksharma
vishalaksharma

Thank God... My server room is much better than this.

slobodan.hajdin
slobodan.hajdin

And I tought we have problems.... ;) LOL, this gallery made my day...

wizz2
wizz2

Can you find waldo?

Cajundweeb
Cajundweeb

Holy s----! Now that's the server from hell!!

frances
frances

I especially like the pictures that show equipment (phones, routers, etc.) hanging by their cords....

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

Oh, well, I was a little disappointed until I saw the rest of the gallery. My stuff is ugly, but it's small potatoes compared to some of these.

brian
brian

Where I work there are big server racks bunched up against each other, lined up tight for a good 100 feet or so. Except for one spot, where there is room for a rack between the others, but no rack there. Why? Because every time it rains, the roof gushes water exactly in that location. 50-gallon trash bucket to the rescue! Oh and throw some paper towels on the floor next to that 220v, 200amp power distribution box. Don't want it getting too wet.

manivindia
manivindia

Yes Its Real Nightmare Challenge!!!

shadoz66
shadoz66

screw that i used to have to sort out birds nests like this. NO MORE!!!! hahahahaha. Now i got people to do it for me..

mike
mike

I know its difficult to really see in these pics, but I don't see any cable labels - what is the best method to label the cables - to know which goes where?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

Rebuilding an IBM server, then?

paul.ob.tech
paul.ob.tech

These look better than some of the after shots I could have taken of some server rooms

andypt
andypt

I have found that using a dyno printer and printing the label with three spaces at the end of the text twice, then cutting, then printing twice again and cutting allows me to wrap the label around the wire and the stick both sides together. this means the text is visible from both side of the label, the label cannot come off the wire and having this at both ends makes tracing a bit easier.

ltjackal
ltjackal

Hello, good approach seems to be label cables with something like this > http://global.dymo.com/enHK/ProductSupport/LabelPOINT_150.html ; Naming convention depends on your needs, how many locations etc., but basically: Eg.: P - power, E - ethernet, S - serial; So you end up with something like EB0001 ~ ethernet-boston-0001. Than label the cable from both sides with the same label. Don't forget to take evidence, wiki page whatever, so you keep these numbers (cables) unique! Sort of downside is, label might fall off due to heat in server room :| But they are usually(99.8%) holding on. Oh, and you can use labeler to label servers too! Actually, it seems pointless to label servers with IP/name, which gets changed over the time. Also, you need some unique identifier for financial records etc. I hope this helps.

puntim
puntim

Labels falling off seems to be a given after a couple of years, plus if you have to pull some out through an overcrowded duct or the like... I use permanent marker pens for the cables on the sheath itself. Just choose a colour that contrasts. If you've a really long patch and lots of them then it pays to mark at intervals as well when doing remedial work

paul.ob.tech
paul.ob.tech

I've seen a floor littered with labels that have fallen off, better to keep to some sort of colour coding, with docs in the server room, then it should be a simple job to trace the cable. Label switches,servers, patch panels not cables

john.lamb
john.lamb

A couple of years ago I spent a weekend tidying up a rats nest like a couple of these. Lots of labelling. Two weeks later - do it again because of an un-announced major org change and office layout update. 6 months after that, do it again, also without notice. I dont label much any more, but I am a big fan of all the colours that cables are made in. Red=PoE, Yellow=Phone, Purple=switch links etc...

glehr
glehr

So I learned cable management from a big company, and as I have progressed and place I go get smaller, they still seem to be the best practices. Color coding for network or speed is great for fast reference, but when trying to trace a cable through 5 rooms and a lot of conduits, I find my Panduit self laminating cable labels to be indispensable. I keep track as I go on a spreadsheet print out of the record I keep in pencil, and then update when I get a few free moments. Unfortunately that usually means an hour one weekend a month goes into excel, but I can find both ends of a cable in a flash.

mike
mike

I still feel uneasy aboutr forgetting cable labeling- even with a spreadsheet (which I have) that says which port is which - if the cables are disconnected who can tell which one should go where - OK they all just plug into the patch and the system will(should)work - until have a problem and you need to know which cable goes where? Surely only cable idnetifier labels can help (or Fox&Hounds)- No I'm not paranoid - just want to help the next guy who comes along get the job done quick!

Alvarito_UY
Alvarito_UY

where the spreadsheet jumps in. Keep good records and you won't even need colour codes. Forgot to say, label wall plugs and quipment ports acording to patch panel. Keep good records about patching (even can be documented on user's profile, or equipment inventory) and just by knowing who is suffering you'll know where to go. Experience told me so.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

one plugs into the user's end, the other makes noise when it detects the other end of the cable.

mike
mike

So without some labling - (not enough colors in the spectrum) how does one find the a users cable - it could be plugged into any port on the switch ?

Alvarito_UY
Alvarito_UY

Labels on cables proved (to me, at least) to be unnefective. Colour-code your wires (by function is a good approach), keep right order on everything and keep a good spreadsheet updated at the moment of changes with data and reason for changes, and an extra sheet whit explanations of codes and such. Administrative overhead, yes, maybe... but no headaches at all 'in case of fire', or when work has to be done quickly, or when you are away from office. Cheers!

64molson
64molson

I recently wired a new office space for a client. I got in when it was just stud walls; so pulling was easy. I used 2 colors of plenum cable; one for phones, one for network. Office has a primary network & also 2 VLANs, so I used different colored strain relief boots on both colors of wire to seperate all 3 networks. I can tell just by LOOKING that everything is in the proper place and where it goes. I also labeled ALL wall jacks and the switch end of the cable with the same moniker (everything is a home run; no patch panels). I used the 'flag' method for labelling wires; make little flags so the label is wrapped AROUND the wire & secured to itself. Even if it comes loose from the wire, it should still be on there....somewhere!

ltjackal
ltjackal

Unlucky you then. As I understood, this system is here for some time and it works. And no re-labeling ever took place.