Cable Management: Back to Basics for a More Efficient Data Center

Laura Viars for blog By Laura Viars, Account Manager, Rackmount Solutions, Inc.

It’s a new year, and that means it’s time again to spruce up your data center. But how is it possible to get things cleaned and organized when you can’t even figure out which cables go where?

That’s the place to start — tame those cables and transform your server jungle into an organized server room again.

Reasons for cable management 
Implementing an effective cable management strategy is not just a matter of being organized. Other important reasons to keep the cables in order include:

  • better cooling and airflow
  • fewer server failures
  • density management and efficient use of space
  • enhanced and orderly troubleshooting
  • efficient hardware installation and maintenance

Back to basics 
Even when you have an existing data center, take time to get back to basics. Ask yourself whether your cable management design is working efficiently, and whether any changes are in order.

Next, develop an action plan for making those changes. Whether you are just getting started or already have an established cable management system, reviewing the steps in the following section can help to ensure that your cable management system provides you with maximum efficiency.

Creating a cable management system 
What exactly does an efficient cable management system include?

In a system that works, you have cables running properly through storage and server device racks; you have properly fastened all cables; cables are labeled; and finally, you keep your system working smoothly by documenting how you have installed everything.

There are some key steps you can take to create an effective cable management system. To meet your data center’s unique needs, customize these planning steps:

  1. Before you begin to place any cable, first develop a blueprint for your cable management system. Decide on the pathways through which you will route the cables. As you develop this strategy, try to think longer term, anticipating how well your planned setup will work into the future.
  1. Develop a strategy for installing all of the cables. For example, assure that cables will not be bent by any components and that they will not wind too tightly around cabinets. Obtain specifications on your cables so that you are aware of how they can and should be properly placed. Pay close attention to density management, and ensure that all cables will be easily accessible.
  1. Consider color coding cables, which can obviously make it easier to spot the functions of various cables and help to prevent — for example — the possibility of someone unplugging the wrong cable.
  1. Place the cables and color code, according to the design you developed.
  1. Document the cable management model that you have developed and implemented. Then, when you need to make changes in the future, you can easily refer back to this documentation.
  1. Continue to maintain and adjust your cable management setup over time. Cable management is ongoing, rather than being a one-time job.

Maintaining an efficient setup
Once you have adopted an efficient system that works smoothly for you, make sure you keep things well organized and manageable going forward. Stick to the plan and strategy that you designed. It is much easier to maintain order than to create it. After you have your efficient cable management system in place, you might very well find that your setup requires little or no readjustment when it comes time to ring in the next New Year.

What would you do? Send your best practices insights to We might just share your ideas in the next issue of Rackmount Solutions.

Other articles by Laura Viars:

Lots of Cables?  There’s a Rack for You!

Cooling Your Data Center

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