Structured Cabling for Data Center Reliability

Posted by Instor on Aug 11, 2017 8:15:00 AM

How is your cable run design looking? A bit messy these days? Fret not. Instor has the lowdown on the proper way to deal with that rat’s nest of cords and cables in your data center.


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Messy Cables, Be Gone. Reclaim Your Cabling System.

Before the 1990s, cabling systems were proprietary. It created a significant challenge for data center managers. Every change required a vendor-specific understanding of the cabling system. In 1991, the TIA/EIA-568 standard was developed to promote structured cabling systems.

Today, structured cabling represents 5 percent of network investment, yet it is responsible for 59% downtime, according to Gartner. This downtime can be attributed to lack of adherence to standards. Proper planning and implementation of structured cabling principles can help improve data center efficiency. Every data center owner should look into structured cabling best practices.

Planning a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system involves proper cable run design, cable type identification, network verification process, future expansion plan, and documentation. Data centers with reactive or on-demand cabling policies end up in chaos.

Data centers can start with the Main Distribution Area (MDA), one or more Horizontal Distribution Area (HDA) and proper equipment and spaces to facilitate access to the cables. The MDA is used for the core networking equipment. The HDA cross-connects are used to distribute cables to the Equipment Distribution Area (EDA). Having a well-defined structure such as this helps create a more disciplined data center. Here are a few more tips:

  • Use Proper Standards: The cabling standards help data centers maintain higher levels of competency. They are updated every five to 10 years. Staying current with the standards mean your data center will be able to adapt faster to any technological innovation. Currently, U.S. data centers follow the TIA/EIA-568 standard from Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) while International companies and businesses follow ISO/IEC IS 11801.

  • Organize through Color and Nomenclature: On top of the standards, developing your own identification scheme using color and nomenclature can help keep the data center more organized. Implementing a well-thought out system can help save time and money in the long run. Maintenance of older equipment or issues become easier with a robust cable identification system in place.

Implementing the Cabling Infrastructure

When you set up your cabling infrastructure, always think about the future. Make sure there is room for growth. Also, check if the implementation is robust and reliable. The following actions can help:

  • Test Connections: Comprehensive testing of connections after adding or removing equipment will ensure the long-term reliability of the data center. Systematic well-planned tests can eliminate problems before they cause any downtime. Haphazard testing only creates a false sense of security.

  • Standardize Racks: Standardizing racks and cable usage can save a lot of headaches. It simplifies the system. Maintenance becomes easier. During a crisis, data center engineers don’t have to figure out what kind of cables are used or what kind of rack configuration is used.

  • Document Parts and Processes: Documentation is not fun for anyone. As a result, it is often ignored. However, without documentation, personnel change or training new employees can become unnecessarily time-consuming. Adding new equipment to the infrastructure can be error-prone. Documentation can improve the value of a structured cable system significantly.

  • Stock Cables for the Future: Keeping a healthy stock of spares for the structured cabling system can help during crisis situations.

Each data center has its own distinctive personality. Therefore, it’s not possible to ascribe a stringent rule blindly to all data centers. However, an unruly data center will inevitably lead to chaos and downtime. According to a Ponemon Institute study, the average cost of an unplanned outage is $9,000 per minute, which means safeguarding against downtime is crucial. Following the guidelines and best practices of TIA/ISO standards can improve the quality of a structured cabling system. It can help avoid unnecessary outages.

If your data center needs a closer look, turn to the experts at Instor. Contact us today to put you on the road to a more efficient data center.


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Topics: Structured Cabling