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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Good cable management makes common sense from every angle but unless you plan your network, allowing for future growth it can be difficult to maintain long term. Here are some reminders why cable management should be embraced as an integral part of IT Networks planning and ongoing processes. 



Good Cable Management

1. Time to trace & repair improved
When the network comms room cabling is in a mess, invariably the documentation is in a mess or worse still non-existent.  This means what should be a relatively simple task of tracing and re-routing a cable as part of a MAC (Move & Change), becomes a real headache potentially leading to costly and avoidable downtime to the business.

2. Optimization of rack space improved
Real estate costs can be astronomical so minimising rack space and ultimately the floor space required makes good business sense. Good cable management practice using the appropriate vertical cable & horizontal managers can save significant floor space.

3. Optimizing Airflow increases hardware life & reduces energy costs
Network switches and servers need to exhaust their heat away from the rack as efficiently as possible. Impeding air vents with bunches of cables can cause hot spots in the rack which can potentially increase energy usage or reduce MTBF (mean time between failure) of network hardware.

4. There are standards for labeling and administration of cables
Standards compliance is good practice. This includes labeling and documentation of network cabling. What happens when the guy with all the knowledge in his head is not available?  For guidance on planning and installation of administration and labeling,  International standards ISO/IEC TR 14763-2-1:2011(E) &  ISO/IEC 14763-2:2012 should be consulted.
 
Bad Cable Management

1. Image & reputation can be impacted if IT cabling looks uncontrolled
Even if your IT suite is hidden away in a back room, unsightly cabling may be questioned internally. Why not showcase your investment to customers and stakeholders?

2. Access to hardware & connections is more challenging 
Running cables in front of active equipment, even if just the mounting screws increases the time to swap out hardware e.g. switches, routers etc  & make MACS. Planning patch cabling to utilise cable managers rather than point-to-point will avoid this practice.

3. Poor Bend radius control of cables can lead to signal loss or connection failures
Stretching cables or allowing them to mix in an uncontrolled manner will likely lead to reduced bend radius at the plug or cable kinks, potentially affecting signal transmission or increasing failure at the connector

4. Switch port utilization is lower when redundant cables are not removed
Network switches are expensive. When cabling gets out of control, there is a tendency when provisioning new ports to avoid the risk of disconnecting undocumented/ unlabelled cables and just ordering another switch if fully populated. Recovering redundant switch ports can save large sums over time.

19 February 2019