Home » I’ve inherited a rat’s nest of cabling. What now?

I’ve inherited a rat’s nest of cabling. What now?

Solutons:


In no particular order here are some suggestions that have been helpful to me over the years-

  1. Can any of the equipment in those racks be eliminated, upgraded or consolidated? It’s hard to tell what’s there, but in my experience these kinds of messes tend to be aggravated by gear that should have been pulled out years ago.

  2. Once you’ve got some idea of the minimum set of equipment then consider how best to lay it out. The criteria here may vary, but grouping by technology type or business function might make sense. Clearly the proximity of high density devices (i.e. switches) and patch panels and such will immediately be apparent.

  3. Use cable management!!! There are both horizontal and vertical cable management solutions. Use both – horizontals around patch panels and other significant concentrations, verticals next to switches and to facilitate risers.

  4. It’s always surprising, but how power cables are routed should be considered. UPS units in the bottom of racks, PDU selection and diversity all need to be considered before pulling a cable.

  5. Keep inventory of common cable lengths. It’s late at night and you want to go home. A 3′ cable is what’s necessary but the closest you have handy is 5′. This is how these kinds of messes develop.

  6. Documenting is part of the game, but the importance of labeling cannot be overstated. With clear labels and efficient/clean cabling the number of mistakes will be vastly decreased and troubleshooting simplified.

  7. Limit who can pull cables!!! Differing styles and degrees of attention to detail can yield chaos pretty quickly.

Please call a cabling contractor in to spend a day or two onsite to “dress” your cables. I used to spend time dealing with this type of work on my own, but realize that cabling contractors are faster and more organized.

A good cabling contractor is better at this than you are!

They will have the right resources to tag, test, get custom lengths, dress cabling and install the right type of management infrastructure.

It’s worth the time and expense in order to end up with a cleaner, more manageable solution.

If cost is an issue, then you can reduce the hired man-hours by bringing the contractor to handle any structured cabling needs (re-terminating patch panels, testing existing runs, etc.)… Looking at that photo, there will be a need… You can buy or have them provide a variety of patch cable lengths and perform that work on your own, tagging and labeling as needed.

I went from this before-to-after by using this approach. It took 6 hours of contractor help, and 8 hours of my work to get the result.

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A co-worker and I recently cleaned up a mess that was pretty bad (I might post pictures later if I get some time) and I wholeheartedly disagree with the contractor approach. You will learn significantly more about the system itself and what deficiencies it has if you do the work yourself. Also when you make a mistake, as you or any other mortal is likely to do, you will have a much better idea of how to fix it. Having said all of this here are my suggestions.

  • Take your time: this is a marathon not a sprint.
  • First remove all the items that are not plugged in on one end. This took a surprising amount out in our situation.
  • Label, label, and label again.
  • Do a switch at a time.
  • Take your time and check your work.

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