The one where @Captain tries to reorganize a server room



  • I have been working on the server room at work on and off for a few months now. It is still a mess.

    The biggest problem that I can see is that we're out of capacity in our cable management system. We have three racks:

    L. The left one has about 10 patch bays in it, and now has a LAN switch and a VOIP switch in it to help alleviate congestion in the cable management system.

    M. The middle one has about 8 switches in it (mixed LAN and VOIP), a couple of servers, some smallish UPSs, and some stupid big UPSs.

    R. The right one has like 5 patch bays, a VOIP system, and some more UPSs.

    Of course, since most of the cabling goes to the left rack, the cable organizer for it is 4 inches wide. And of course, since so little cabling goes to the right rack, the cable organizer is 6 inches wide.

    I can't jam cables into the organizers any harder. They just don't fit anymore. So I'm having to expand the system by doing things like connecting patch bays to switches directly (i.e., without routing through the organizer).

    What are my options for fixing this mess before it becomes epic?



  • @captain Do you have a photo? It'll be worth 20,000 words when it comes to figuring out how to arrange cabling.

    For example, what kind of cable management system do you have? If it's not big enough on the left side, why not kibosh it and go with the velcro-wrap or zip-tie solution instead? You could probably buy a million zip-ties for the cost of your "solution" and they're way more flexible to boot.

    Are your racks full-height? Is there room above them? Does the room have a raised floor, or space in the ceiling? Can you get behind them or do you have to work from the front? Etc. Photos man.

    One obvious thing I'd do if you haven't already is use a different color of cable for VOIP cables (and probably keep them isolated in their own runs, not mixing them up with the LAN cables in whatever you're using for cable management.) If possible, I'd segregate VOIP stuff to just one of the racks, but I know changes like that could be week-long efforts.



  • I'll second the photo or at least a sketch.



  • I just noticed you have all your patch panels on one rack and all your switches on another.

    You can save a lot of cable pain (halve it, basically) if you do this:

    -------------
    | Patch |
    | Switch |
    | Patch |
    | Switch |
    --------------

    Of course the 1:1 ratio depends on the size of your switches and the size of your patch panels. If your patch panel has 50 plugs and your switch has 100 ports, you'd do this:

    ----------
    | Patch |
    | Patch |
    | Switch |
    | Patch |
    | Patch |
    | Switch |
    --------------

    For example.

    Then you can use the tiniest cable sizes (4" or 6") to go between the patch panel and switch and save entirely on "managing" those cables. You don't have to "manage" cables that are so short they can't even reach the floor. You also can have a 1:1 relation between patch panel and switch (the switch's uplink? Just leave that spot blank on the patch panel.)

    Now you only have to worry about managing the cables out the back of the patch panels.



  • 0_1514419040007_20171227_112828.jpg

    Yes, it's getting icky. Unfortunately, the patch bay is hooked up so that consecutive ports go to the same wall jack. Which is sort of okay, but it's impossible to have separate patch bays for LAN and VOIP unless I rewire the bays. The very thought of rewiring patch bays fast enough to keep service running makes me nauseated.

    The very bottom of the middle rack has some UPSs I'm going to remove. I'll keep two 1-unit UPSs to let the servers shut down safely. I'm also installing some surge protectors for the switches.

    0_1514419751722_20171227_112927.jpg

    Looking at the close up some more, I guess the real problem is that most of it just wasn't planned out so well, so e.g. none of the cables are the right length; cables are connected to switches seemingly at random; etc. etc. The right rack doesn't look half bad, but I specifically went out and bought cables cut to the right length and installed switches for it.

    The back of the patch bays is the only part worth keeping. I'll take pictures of that if it will help tomorrow. But I think rearranging the patch bays isn't feasible.

    Maybe... I could rearrange the switches in the middle rack so that they feed the left rack more "evenly", and in a ratio like @blakeyrat described. I can get a few more of those "horizontal cable management" things so they don't get crammed full of cable. And then I can do all the wiring in 2, 3, and 4 ft cables, with different colors for LAN and VOIP.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    Our problem is mere laziness.

    0_1514423942197_1514423926768339269835.jpg



  • I've seen FAR worse than that. Also whoever did the jacks to the rest of the building did a great job bundling them from the ceiling. And you can access everything from both sides, and it's not hopelessly dense. And there's no janitorial supplies stored in the same room.

    I still say cable management "systems" are a waste of money. Get zip ties and use the cable management "system" just as a place to hook them to the rack's frame so they don't fall.

    I'd still interlace the switches with the patch panels, though. If you mark all the important connections (aka servers), you can just come in at midnight for a few days and do one panel/switch combo a night. It'll take maybe a couple hours if you're alone, but that's not that big a deal for midnight downtime.

    And DEFINITELY buy the right length of cable. Nothing in the front of the rack should have any slack. (Stuff in the back of the rack should have big spools of slack so you can move those cables to another patch panel if you need.)



  • @blakeyrat said in The one where @Captain tries to reorganize a server room:

    I'd still interlace the switches with the patch panels, though. If you mark all the important connections (aka servers), you can just come in at midnight for a few days and do one panel/switch combo a night. It'll take maybe a couple hours if you're alone, but that's not that big a deal for midnight downtime.

    Can I just remove all of the horizontal cable guides and put the LAN and VOIP switches in the 2 units I freed up? Or is that too dense? Should I be trying to use more vertical space and interleave in the middle rack too? (I'm not even sure that's possible, but I don't know how much slack the cables have on the back side of the patch panels)

    I could probably wire with mostly 6in cables if I got rid of the cable guides and interleaved that way.

    If I take good notes, I could do the whole rack in a couple of hours.



  • @captain I'm basically saying the end result should look like this:

    0_1514428939341_IMG_20140428_074659617.jpg

    It's denser than what you have now, but since every port is 1:1 with every patch panel and the cables are super-short, it's going to be really easy to manage.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @blakeyrat said in The one where @Captain tries to reorganize a server room:

    look like this:

    *Sighs appreciatively* I'd forgotten why I avoid /r/CablePorn ....


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @tsaukpaetra
    At least the tearing gives you a good reason to go shopping for new pants?


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @izzion said in The one where @Captain tries to reorganize a server room:

    @tsaukpaetra
    At least the tearing gives you a good reason to go shopping for new pants?

    😕 I'm unable to comprehend. Term context error around the tearing gives.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @tsaukpaetra
    From the massive hard-on the picture gave you...


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @izzion said in The one where @Captain tries to reorganize a server room:

    @tsaukpaetra
    From the massive hard-on the picture gave you...

    You're probably wearing your clothes wrong if standard biological events damage your clothing.



  • Just did an inventory of patches and switches, and we'd need to buy like 8 switches to do it the ultra-dense way that looks cool.

    So, for now, maybe I'll have each one service two patch panels. At least until I get caught up on my buying.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @captain
    Do your current patch panels have ports that aren't live? Otherwise your switches should match up with your patch panels fairly evenly -- if you have 24 port patch panels and a 48 port switches, then that "should" result in the 2 panels : 1 switch interleaving ratio for the ultra-dense way.

    And personally in that case I'm more a fan of

    | panel v |
    | switch  |
    | panel ^ |
    | panel v | 
    | switch  | 
    | panel ^ |
    

    over the way @blakeyrat first posted, but either way should work.



  • @izzion said in The one where @Captain tries to reorganize a server room:

    And personally in that case I'm more a fan of

    Six of one, half-dozen of the other.

    The real point I was trying to get across is: don't put all your patch panels on one rack and all your switches on another because that's a cable mess waiting to happen.



  • @izzion said in The one where @Captain tries to reorganize a server room:

    Do your current patch panels have ports that aren't live? Otherwise your switches should match up with your patch panels fairly evenly -- if you have 24 port patch panels and a 48 port switches, then that "should" result in the 2 panels : 1 switch interleaving ratio for the ultra-dense way.

    Yes, lots of ports that aren't live. Maybe a third of the ports are wired, and even fewer have users at the other end.

    I get the feeling it was set up this way to save money over buying a dozen switches. (I'm at a non-profit).


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