The importance of cabling in the data centre

R&M shares some tips for effective data centre cabling

Tags: Reichle and De-Massari
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The importance of cabling in the data centre Shibu Vahid, head of technical operations, R&M Middle East & Africa.
By  Shibu Vahid Published  March 18, 2013

The modern data centre has come to represent the unification of a range of cutting-edge technologies coupled into a single complex entity which, although tucked away from all but a select group of IT engineers, facilitates the smooth operation of business as we now know it.

The role of IT in meeting ever-growing business demands is fueling the increased density of servers, storage and networking devices and most importantly, data centre cabling.

Data centre cable management is one of the most important aspects of data centre design and operation. The performance, reliability and flexibility of the data centre are all tied in strongly to the systematic execution of this ongoing activity. The lack of cable management impacts serviceability and availability, whereas a good strategy can enable rapid and dynamic scaling of the IT infrastructure while minimising the downtime required for these changes.

Cut risks not costs

Tight budgets coupled with the expectation to still deliver the best technology solutions means that IT managers are sometimes tempted to cut corners and often the physical infrastructure is the first target of such efforts. At first glance, opting for lower quality cables and connectors may seem like a viable option. But given that cabling generally accounts for a mere 5% to 10% of the overall cost of the data centre, the trade-off rarely reaps dividends in the long run. Low-quality cabling can create multiple points of failure that are often difficult to pinpoint. Investing instead in cabling solutions that meet industry standards can provide the robust physical backbone upon which the modern data centre can be built.

Use patch panel in racks

Another means employed to reduce costs is to perform cable connections by plugging crimp-on connectors directly into networking equipment. But any changes down the line would result in a great deal of confusion since the haphazard nature of this approach makes management a nightmare. Opt instead to use patch panels in each rack whenever possible. This is possibly the most effective method for cable management. While this does entail an initial investment, the long-term benefits of simplified management, and speed and flexibility at the time of upgrades and changes, will justify the expenditure.

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