Cable management in the data center is a complex task that, when done improperly, can lead to “spaghetti” cabinets, difficult equipment installations, and prolonged troubleshooting and maintenance time. Poor cable management can also create an unsafe operation environment by restricting airflow to racks, trapping dust, and keeping cables too warm. More organizations are realizing that they need to instill good cable management behaviors across their data center environments.
Among the cable management best practices, perhaps the most basic and easiest to implement is accurately labeling cables. According to Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI), applying consistent labeling standards to cables helps reduce errors and saves time and money. The mark of a true professional, proper cable labeling simplifies troubleshooting, accelerates cable tracing, and is an effective way to avoid downtime.
Here are some simple tips to help you accurately and effectively label cables in your data center environments:
- Affix printed, clearly legible, waterproof labels to each cable. Labels that fall off, smear, or are unreadable are of no use. Being reliable and accurate with your labels is more important than being fast or cheap.
- Use the right labeling tool. A commercial grade label maker is more reliable than a consumer grade one and will let you import lists.
- Color-code your labels. Use a color scheme for different connection uses in your environments. Although not required, there is a recommended color scheme for labels.
- Follow proven standards. The ANSI/TIA-606-B standard provides a system of identifying network assets and connections. Having such a system in place simplifies the labeling process and makes troubleshooting easier.
- Use Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software. DCIM software simplifies not just cable labeling by allowing you to export lists for labels, but all of data center cable and connectivity management. It lets you visualize cable connectivity in 3D across your entire data center. From end to end, you can document and understand every node and hop in your data circuits to identify single points of failure and decrease troubleshooting time.
Accurately and efficiently labeling cables is just one of many best practices you should follow in your data center. To learn the rest, read our new eBook 7 Best Practices for Simplifying Data Center Cable Management.