So, last time we looked at the classic approach, but what
other options are available? To be honest, there aren't a great deal of other
options out there—I spent quite some time Googling for innovative new ways of
tackling patch panels and the related tangle of cables; nothing out of the
ordinary appeared; most companies offer a continuation of the aforementioned
clips, ducts and cable tie method of attack. I did come across one interesting
company called NeatPatch—these guys
use a combination of forethought (in the design/layout stage) and discipline
(including having the correct cable lengths) to achieve a very nice end result.
Their layouts also allow excess cable length to be stored horizontally rather
than vertically, which inevitably leads to less mess. NeatPatch also claim to
be the first patch panel system to introduce 'bend radius compliance'—this
relates to any bends in your network cable which in turn can introduce
interference and therefore performance loss on your network (the bend radius is
related to the wavelength of transmissions).
All in all the results look pretty good—here are some samples from the
NeatPatch provided this 'Cabling
Guide' which has some interesting information in it and is probably worth a
read if you're interested in the topic.
One other solution I found was PatchView from RiT.
This takes physical cable management to a new level. RiT describe it as an
'Intelligent Physical Layer Management Solution (IPLMS)'. The system is a
combination of the PatchView management software and smart patch panel units;
these include an LED display to guide technicians and LED indicators for each
port. The PatchView software allows all connectivity events/changes to be
reported to a central network management station, immediately alerting the
network administrator to any issues arising; the system can even direct a
technician on what port to connect a new patch and will alert if an error has
These are obviously different approaches to slightly different problems. The
NeatPatch system addresses the physical problem of cables, mess, and patch
panel spaghetti; the PatchView system addresses the issue of keeping track of
which ports should be patched together, changes made, and tracking down
physical problems. These two systems would probably combine to make a very tidy
and robust solution.
For some tips on good practice while cabling in the server room, take a look at
this weblog (http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/9263) by Chris Josephes—a sys
admin for Internet Broadcasting.
If you have any advice on keeping cabling tidy, tips and tricks or can suggest
any good cable management products then leave a comment so we can all benefit.