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Optimizing Ethernet in Data Center Networks

Feature Ethernet Data Center Networks - AnD Cable Management Blog

Demand for faster data transfer, and more of it, has exploded exponentially over the last decade. Even before the pandemic, growth was already at exponential rates, but with the work from anywhere trend and more people gaming and streaming from home, demand rose even further. 

With it came an explosion in innovation, and a necessary one. Data Center Interconnects (DCI) Ethernet cable speeds increased from 100 Gb applications to 400 Gb and beyond. Server speeds have gone from 10 Gb to 25 Gb and beyond, with 100 Gb speeds on the horizon, and already in place in some data centers. 

The result is that data centers are now frequently operating like edge computing networks. Here is how it works. 

Ethernet Data Center Networks - AnD Cable Management Blog
Ethernet cable speeds have increased from 100 Gb applications to 400 Gb and beyond

Optimizing Ethernet in Data Centers

There are four factors in optimizing data center ethernet use: speed, power, reach, and latency. Speed is already being enhanced and optimized by the creation of better and more modern cable designs. But for the other areas, there is still work to be done. 

Power

When it comes to power, many data centers have gone green, with their own renewable energy sources. In most cases, they have access to all the power they need. The key is to use it in the most efficient way possible. With more power comes the issue of design, including hot and cold aisle design choices and more. 

Reach

Data center architecture must take a holistic approach, whether you are starting from scratch with a new data center or making moves and changes to update its current infrastructure. Everything from switches and routers to transceivers and overall physical design, reach must be weighed by efficiency vs. cost.

Latency

Finally, latency is related to the final user experience. When it comes to gaming or video conferencing, low latency is the expectation, while when conducting internet searches, it’s not as critical, but can still be an issue for users. As speed increases and fast becomes the norm, latency expectations change with it. 

These three areas are critical to how ethernet is used in data centers, but it is far from the only one. 

Definitive Guide to Understanding Ethernet Patch Cords in Modern Networks - AnD Cable Products Whitepaper
Ethernet cables differences, RJ45 Connectors and T586B vs T568A

Infrastructure Processing Units

How we manage this need for speed is changing on the hardware and software side of things as well. Infrastructure Processing Units (IPUs) run Software Defined Networking (SDN) programs away from the server core. This saves critical server bandwidth, but it comes with an additional load cost. 

As these advances develop, the demand for new and better ethernet cables arises. And as ethernet cables advance, IPUs hardware and software applications evolve as well. Both improve in sync with the other. It’s a developing relationship, but one data center manager’s must take advantage of. 

Edge Computing Centers 

One solution to speed is to move the data center closer to the end user. This has been a developing trend, but increasingly data centers are expanding to distributed models where the interconnections between resources drive both power and speed, creating a better overall experience for the end user, and reducing latency. 

This comes with challenges. As edge computing rapidly becomes the norm, that latency KPI gets lower and lower. Low latency is key, and specifically, DCI applications are critical to meeting new standards. Ethernet connections are a vital part of this change and growth.

The Need for Speed

What’s needed to make all of this work? The first is optical transceivers, which allow data centers to make reductions in the power they use, but enables them to increase bit rates at the same time. This allows for the increase of speed in the leaf-spine connections, a critical component in any data center, but especially those that are hyperscaling. 

This does not come without challenges, as not all ethernet cables are created equally, and interoperability can become an issue. 

To help with this, high-speed breakout cables are often used. These cables have one end that supports the aggregate rate and the other end is a series of disaggregated interfaces. With their speed comes performance challenges, especially over distances. However, there has been some rapid development in this area. 

The New Normal

As 400 Gb speeds become the norm and data centers are increasingly on the edge, there are many advantages. Distributed networks mean easier disaster recovery and backup planning and create the ability to use shared resources to meet shifting demands. 

However, this creates some challenges with testing and maintaining KPIs. Interoperability remains a key component of successful deployments. 

At AnD Cable Products, we understand these challenges. We offer everything your data center needs, from Zero U rack solutions to every type and style of cable you need. We can customize cables for your application, and offer a variety of other hardware solutions to meet your data center needs. When you are ready to upgrade your cables, make moves and changes, or even deploy a new data center or edge computing center, contact us. We’d love to be your partner in innovation

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online at https://andcable.com/shop/

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The Data Link Layer – How DAC and AOC Cables Can Work For You

Feature - The Data Link Layer - How DAC and AOC Cables Can Work For You - Cable Management Blog

As the need for data storage and speed increases, the need for hyperscale data centers has increased. So has the need for edge data centers as well. While large-scale centers serve companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, other organizations are looking at smaller data centers closer to the end-user. In both cases, the data link layer of the data center is critical. Enter Direct Attach Copper (DACs) cables and Active Optical Cables (AOCs).

The Data Link Layer - How DAC and AOC Cables Can Work For You - Cable Management Blog
The data link layer of the data center is critical to ensuring your resources and used to their full potential

What is that data link layer? It’s the physical layer, the connection between servers that ensures all the computing resources are used to their full potential. The speed and integrity of these connectors can make a huge difference. 

They include Direct Attach Copper (DACs) cables, Active Optical Cables (AOCs), and fiber optic cable assemblies connected into transceivers throughout the data center. How does each one work, and why are they so critical to installation, maintenance, and deployment?

The Need for Speed

There are two aspects to the need for speed: the need for speed in shorter cables between servers, and the need for speed over longer distances. Different kinds of cables work differently in each instance. 

For example, DACs are most often used over short distances, connecting units in the same server rack. They can be active or passive – active connections are part of signal processing circuitry, and passive connections simply carry power. In the case of a DAC, the cable is made of copper rather than fiber. 


WHITEPAPER – Understanding Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring in Modern Networks

Understanding Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring in Modern Networks - AnD Cable Products Whitepaper

An overview of the differences between stranded and solid conductor wiring, the properties of each and the best cable type to use in a variety of typical settings.

  • Types of Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring
  • Comparison of Electrical Properties
  • Factors Impacting Attenuation / Insertion Loss
  • Choosing the Right Cable


AOCs usually connect devices within the same row, but they cover longer distances than their copper cousins. However, they do not work in End of Row (EOR) or Middle of Row (MOR) configurations where certain types of patch panels are used. They are usually provided in fixed lengths from a few meters long to more than 100 meters. AOCs are active and include transceivers, control chips, and modules.

Both are fast, similar in speed to optic fiber cables, but that speed can be compromised by cable damage or in the case of DACs, electromagnetic interference. Both must be tested with a tool that can accept dual SFP/QSFP transceivers and generate and analyze traffic.

So how do you test them? Well, there are methods that include automation, but there are other factors to consider. 

Automation Matters

 Speed drives us to DACs and AOCs in some cases, but they can become damaged in a variety of ways. This often doesn’t even happen in the installation process, but in the shipping and handling before they even arrive at the data center. Sometimes it happens if they are stored and moved frequently. 

So the first place to test them is before installation. This ensures they are working before they are put into service. It’s easy to see how testing all cables at installation can be costly and time-consuming but not testing early can be costly later on. 

The solution is rapid, automated testing that can be done by running a test pattern where the results can be compared to a Bit Error Rate (BER) threshold. DAC and AOC cables including breakouts usually have a BER rating on their datasheets, especially when they are meant to be used with devices implementing the RS-FEC algorithm.

The tests only take a minute per cable and result in reports including a cable identifier, such as the serial number, identifying clearly any faulty equipment. 

Proper Power Planning

What’s the other advantage of DACs and AOCs? Energy savings. Point to point high-speed cables take less power and can save money, especially at scale. While DACs offer more dramatic numbers per cable, AOCs offer savings as well when multiple transceivers are replaced by cables. 

They’re not ideal for every case in every data center, but where they can be used as a key part of deployment, they can provide significant energy savings.

Living on the Edge Deployment

The other argument for DAC and AOC deployment and testing at installation exists on the edge. More Edge deployments force centers to increase speed, security, and efficiency at the same time as they minimize latency.

Opting to wait and address any connectivity issues during troubleshooting results in costly mistakes and skipping troubleshooting steps in favor of speedy repairs, sometimes those that are not necessary. Not only is this costly – cables can vary from tens of dollars to thousands but it can also lead to confusing labels and the increased probability of unplugging a live cable.

The fact that DACs and AOCs can be tested so quickly and easily at the time of installation is another great argument for their use in the data link layer. But no matter what cable configuration your data center uses, from point to point high-speed cables to other fiber and optical options, the management of that data link layer is critical to smooth data center operations.

Looking for High Speed Cables?

WD 25G SFP28 SFP+ DAC Cable - 25GBASE-CR, SFP28 to SFP28 Passive Direct Attach Copper, Twinax Cable

Ready to start optimizing your data link layer? Have questions about what cables might be right for you and your application? Whether you are deploying a brand new data center or making moves and changes, we’re here to help. Contact AnD Cable Products today for more information. We’re here to help every step of the way. 

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online at https://andcable.com/shop/

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How a Fire-Rated Power Distribution System Reduces Risk

How a Fire-Rated Power Distribution System Reduces Risk - AnD Cable Management Blog

Fires are not super common in data centers, but they do happen, and most often when they do, they are not reported (at least not in the news). Much of the reason for this is that fires are usually small and quickly contained. It is unusual for a data center to become fully engulfed. 

Even when such fires are reported on, details can be sketchy, causes, and investigations hidden behind NDA’s and are therefore difficult to learn from. While companies want to retain control over the narrative and how it impacts their reputation, the information around fires can and should be shared within the industry to prevent further similar events. And there are some things you can do now – such as remote monitoring – to keep your staff and facilities safe. 

Remote monitoring can help your data center keep staff and equipment safe from fire damage

The OVHCloud Incident

On 10 March 2021, near midnight local time, a fire started in the OVHCloud SBG2 data center, quickly got out of control, and even damaged two other nearby data centers. The fire started near two UPS units, one of which was worked on that same day. 

The company is considered a European alternative to the giant US cloud operators and is a key participant in the European Union’s GaiaX cloud project. Data centers serve some key functions in the French government, the UK vehicle licensing department, and others. Operations were directly impacted by the fire, although the company did have backup data centers, and quickly restored service to most customers. 

But poor design and operational practices that seem to sacrifice dependability for innovation have caused some issues, including major outages, for OVHCloud. The fire just punctuated an ongoing issue but also caused many data center operators and customers to pause and think about something probably not mentioned often enough: the risk of fire in data centers. 

What are the Fire Risks?

When broken down there are a few key fire risks common to all data centers, and most of the time they are relatively easy to mitigate.

  • Electrical Equipment – temperature changes can increase this risk, and of course, a source of risk is also backup power equipment. Generator rooms that contain gas or diesel fumes can create intense fires quickly that would be hard to fight.  
  • Cables – data center power cables are usually not enough to start a fire by themselves, but a damaged cable can release sparks or overheat and cause a small fire or thermal incident that can then spread. Proper cable management and monitoring of underfloor and overhead cabling can help prevent these events. 
  • HVAC Infrastructure – heating and cooling units present some fire danger to data centers and should be inspected often and monitored carefully. Its operation is also critical to maintaining optimal temperatures in the data center to prevent other thermal events. 
  • External Fire Sources – California wildfires. The recent blaze in Boulder. The Texas fires last year. All are examples of external fire risk to data centers, specifically those Edge data centers in less populated areas. 

Most of these can be controlled by properly managing the data center, but there are some events that can only be prepared for. Having fire suppression systems and plans in place is critical regardless of the likelihood of the danger. 

Fire Prevention Systems

Of course, the best prescription for dealing with fire is prevention. The key to this in the modern data center environment is a complete remote monitoring system. The A150 Network Monitoring System is designed specifically for data centers, IT rooms, and confidential lab operators with virtual graphics showing temperature, rack power consumption, and humidity. 

But most importantly for this topic, the system provides alerts for mission critical events like the sudden temperature changes associated with fires, smoke alarms, and sprinkler activation alerts. You can also be alerted to things like power spikes, a rise in server temperatures, or even UPS unit failures so you can make emergency repairs and mitigate fire risk before one starts. 

The reality is that anything you can do to prevent fire before it happens is preferrable than anything you can do to suppress and extinguish an active blaze. However, those are contingencies you need to prepare for. 

Fire Rated Power Distribution Systems

There are two primary principles when it comes to any fire safety plan, anywhere. They are the two P’s: prevent (which we discussed above) and protect. Part of both of these is the vital role of uninterrupted power. Enter the role of a fire-rated busbar trunking system.

These systems can be operational for a period of up to two or even three hours depending on their ratings. They’re also cased in a fire-retardant self-extinguishing resin that essentially protects the power supply itself. The idea is that this will give first responders time to extinguish the fire before it can spread.

How do you choose the right one for your data center? Well, there are established guidelines that indicate the type of fire, the duration they were tested for, how they endured water spray, such as that from sprinkler systems, and the power supply integrity in a fire situation.

Technically, they look like this: 

  • BS IEC 60331-1: 2019 – Tests for electric cables under fire conditions; circuit integrity
  • BS 8602:2013 – Method for assessment of fire integrity of cast resin busbar trunking systems for the safety-critical power distribution to life safety and firefighting systems
  • BS 6387:2013 (CWZ Protocol) – Test method for resistance to fire of cables required to maintain circuit integrity under fire conditions. Fire-resistant cables are classified by a sequence of symbols (for example, CWZ) in accordance with the fire resistance criteria they meet, the selected test temperature, and the length of the fire resistance test per BS 6387
  • NFPA 75 – Standard for the fire protection of IT equipment
  • ISO 834 – Fire resistance tests- elements of building construction
  • ATEX & IECEx – ATEX certification is given to equipment that has gone through rigorous testing outlined by European Union directives and proved safe to use in specific environments with explosive atmospheres, according to the zone/s they are certified to be used in.

The most important part of this discussion is the planning stage. It’s vital to have a disaster plan in place and address both prevention and keeping a fire from happening in the first place to protect the data center and minimize the fire’s impact. 

The more we learn from data center fires, the more likely we are to be able to prevent them going forward, and mitigate the damage in the rare event they do occur. 

Need some advice on cable management, remote monitoring, or other aspects of data center planning? Contact us – we’d love to start a conversation about how we can help you with your data center management plan. 

Physical Layer Environment Network Security Monitoring and Control

A150 Physical Layer Environment Network Security Monitoring and Control System Brochure

Full visibility, network security and control of your physical layer environment. Monitor your entire hybrid cloud and IT infrastructure from a cloud-based, integrated dashboard:

  • Introducing the A150 System
  • A150 System Architecture – High-Level Overview
  • A150 System Features
  • System Controller Hardware and Specifications
  • Monitoring Controllers, Probes and Sensors

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online at https://andcable.com/shop/

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3 Steps to Avoid Cable Management Troubles

Feature - 3 Steps to Avoid Cable Management Troubles - AnD Cable Management Blog

Do you ever have one of those projects that just turns into, well, a problem at every turn? You see it on your to-do list or as you walk by that area in the data center, and think, “I should finish that.” But the pain of the project, and the problems you’ve had with it, are just too much? Here are 3 steps to help you avoid cable management troubles before they become a problem project you need to try to ignore.

Jump to Section:

  1. Plan to Solve Cable Issues
  2. Gather Your Supplies
  3. Use the Latest Technology
European lab in the international space

Well, you aren’t alone. The European Lab in the International Space Station had a similar problem, according to the Associated Press and Tulsa World. A science research platform, one that has been waiting to go active for about a year, was targeted by a spacewalk that would also replace an out-of-date antenna.

But only four of six data cables needed could be hooked up, NASA told the associated press. The other two cable connectors wouldn’t close, so had to be capped and the completion of the hookup tabled for another spacewalk. You may not have to take spacewalks to fix issues in your data center, but there are 3 lessons we can learn from this cosmic misstep.

Plan to Solve Cable Issues

Cable issues are all too common in data centers: cables that are the wrong length, that have the wrong connector, or that cannot be routed properly. If you “wing it” you’ll likely end up with the familiar “spaghetti mess that will end up costing you time and potentially money later on.

When preparing for new installations, moves, or changes, make sure you have everything you need on hand to avoid cable management troubles. You don’t want to come up short, or have cables that won’t connect, even if you are not in the vacuum of space.

Gather Your Supplies

It’s one thing to have a plan. It’s another to make sure you have everything on hand to execute that plan. When it comes to installations, do you have the racks you need? The cable organization (lacing bars) you need to keep cables well routed? How about the sensors you may need to install for any remote monitoring and physical security solutions?

Don’t forget things like cable labels (and a labeling system). Future proof your data center and prevent problems down the road.

The same can be said for moves and changes. The old carpenter adage of “measure twice, cut once” is also applicable here. Be sure you have cables of the right length, the right cable connectors, labels, zip ties, Velcro, and other critical supplies to avoid cable management troubles.

Use the Latest Technology

Datacenter needs are forever changing, and it is important that you keep up and even be ahead of the game. Thinner cabling, in some cases larger servers and server racks, and new power cable connections and insulation all drive innovation. Prevent having to go back and make cable changes and replacements by meeting and exceeding the latest data center standards and practices.

Preparation is key. Before you “exit the airlock” to fix your data center issues, be sure you’re ready.

And if you need help, give us a call. We’re here to help you avoid cable management troubles with all the supplies you need, from ZeroU cable management solutions to physical security solutions. Contact us today and prevent the need for future “spacewalks” because you missed something critical.

Physical Layer Environment Network Security Monitoring and Control

A150 Physical Layer Environment Network Security Monitoring and Control System Brochure

Full visibility, network security and control of your physical layer environment. Monitor your entire hybrid cloud and IT infrastructure from a cloud-based, integrated dashboard:

  • Introducing the A150 System
  • A150 System Architecture – High-Level Overview
  • A150 System Features
  • System Controller Hardware and Specifications
  • Monitoring Controllers, Probes and Sensors

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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How to Design an Effective Data Center Cable Labeling System

How to Design an Effective Data Center Cable Labeling System - AnD Cable Management Blog

One of the things we talk about often in cable management besides having the right cable management and rack management systems that make your data center the most efficient, is using an effective cable labeling system.

Jump to Section:

A cable labeling system makes effective cable management MUCH easier!
A cable labeling system makes effective cable management MUCH easier!

The reason is simple. Nearly every technician has said, at one point or another, “I wish I had labeled that.” So whether you are just getting started with labels or you are labeling existing systems, the question is the same. How do you design an effective cable labeling system? Here are some things to consider.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

First, use a reusable label system. Not only is this better for the environment, it is better for your system as well. For example, if you use UniTag reusable cable labels, they snap on (and off) so you can mark and identify cables quickly.

UniTag Cable Labels -  reusable cable labels allow you to mark and identify virtually any size cable or group of network cables and reduce your cable label costs
UniTag Cable Labels – reusable cable labels allow you to mark and identify virtually any size cable or group of network cables and reduce your cable label costs

But more importantly, if you change something or replace a cable, you simply remove the cable label and put it back on the new cable or in the new location. Easy, and with no waste. It saves time, too. There’s no need to reprint a label or find a different connector. 

Use the Right Cable Label Printer

This might seem like a no-brainer but starting with the right equipment when you’re developing an effective cable labeling system is just as important as when you are planning the layout or rearranging your data center. Ideally a label printer should be portable, have a large memory to load a variety of label styles, and should also be efficient.

Efficiency means long battery life, but also the efficient use of label cartridges. How often have you trimmed a label before applying it? Wouldn’t it be better of the label was the right size in the first place?

Epson LW-PX Printers are the most efficient on the market, working to continually save you money
Epson LW-PX Printers are the most efficient on the market, working to continually save you money

Epson LW-PX printers have innovative technology that reduces lead margins and will “rollback” before printing to prevent that waste. They also have auto full and half cut features that allow you to print a variety of labels in the field, and the large storage capacity means you’ll always have the labels you need at your disposal, from custom created ones to dozens of industry standard symbols.

The other important feature is toughness. Everyone has that employee who frequently has a case of the “dropsies.” But accidents happen to everyone, and printers get dropped, fall off of racks, or suffer even worse treatment. The Epson printer body meets MilSpec drop tests, and has a built in handle that makes it easier to carry (and less likely to be dropped).

Starting with the right printer and the right reusable label tags is the foundation for your cable labeling strategy.

Color Coded Cable Labels

One of the downfalls of a labeling strategy can be too many labels of the same color, and several flag ties that make it challenging to see what is going on. Using a variety of colors in a color coded cable run helps you identify cables at a glance, and can help you follow cables more easily.

Because you can use the Epson labels on any size of cable or group of cables, you ‘ll reduce label clutter, which comes with a whole host of advantages.

Label Size and Information Matters

Sometimes you need more detail than you can put in one line of type. Use labels that are large enough to include multiple lines of type, so your labels make sense to everyone in the data center. Remember, you might not be the one coming back to work on that particular server, so the more detail you include in your labels, the better.

This also impacts readability. A color can tell the technician what type of cable they are dealing with. The label itself tells them the greater detail they need to know to follow the cable and troubleshoot quickly. The reason for labels is that moment later on when a technician is troubleshooting.

Consider the question, “What would another technician need to know about this cable to work efficiently?” That’s the information that should be included in your label.

Best practice guide to a three line cable label:

  1. Near end termination – Port number on patch panel or hub or wall outlet number or physical location
  2. Far end termination – Patch panel location or hub/switch location and port number
  3. Cable purpose – circuit ID or functional description of a cable or patch cord
Three lines of text on the cable label tape and plastic cable label provides lots of space to record vital information
Three lines of text on the cable label tape and plastic cable label provides lots of space to record vital information

Label Wherever You Can

For label tags, removable adhesive label tape may be the best choice, but there are other applications your printer and your labels need to serve. You may need to label a heat shrink tube, or you may want a fluorescent label for some applications.

Epson Labelworks PX printers offer different kinds of label cartridges to meet different needs. You should encourage technicians, and remember yourself, those moments when you wish you had labeled something, even if it isn’t a cable. Instead of thinking, “I wish I had labeled that,” you can say, “I’m glad I labeled that.”

Have a Standard Cable Labeling Nomenclature

No matter what cable labeling system you have and what printer you use to implement it, it will all be for nothing unless everyone is on the same page. Think of it: one technician might call a group of cables one thing, and another tech might label it differently, or not understand the label on the cable.

Not only is it important to label, but part of your labeling system should include a “key” of terms, abbreviations, and names. Everyone should use the same “key” or system. That way, there is no misunderstanding about what a cable run is, or what that abbreviation really stands for.

Final Thoughts

Are there any secrets to an effective cable labeling system? Not really. It’s pretty simple:

  • Use the right tags and equipment
  • Use color coding where appropriate
  • Be consistent with terms and labels
  • Label everything that you might wish later was labeled
  • Include all relevant details on your labels

With the right cable labeling system, you’ll save time, money, and energy. Your installers and technicians will be more efficient, and overall your data center will be more profitable.

Need help with your cable labeling system? Contact AnD Cable Products today. We’ll help you find the right solution to meet your needs.

Introducing the Ultimate Data Center Cable Labeling System

Cable Management Just Got More Economical, Efficient and Robust

AnD Cable Products and Epson Labelworks have teamed up to develop the Ultimate Data Center Cable Labeling System with a selection of bundled cable labeling products that, when used together will revolutionize your cable mangaement, efficiency and costs.

UniTag® Reusable Cable Labels – A plastic snap-on cable labeling system that provides a quick and easy way to mark and identify cables

Epson Labelworks PX Printers – A portable label and wire marker solution with exclusive time and costsaving features for creating custom labels

Epson’s PX Label Tapes Fit Onto AnD Cable’s UniTag® Cable Labels PERFECTLY!


About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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Server Rack Configuration and Cable Management Best Practices

Feature - Server Rack Configuration and Cable Management Best Practices - AnD Cable Management Blog

There are only three types of currency in the world: time, money, and expertise – and we can’t afford to waste any of them. You have the expertise needed to run a data center and you hire others with the same expertise. But there are two things you can always save in your data center: time and money.

Jump to Section:

Data center server rack configuration with proper cable management using best practices

It seems like we never have enough of either one, and time and money are often directly tied together. So how do you make the most of both every single day?

Perhaps the most important thing is to optimize wherever possible. Here are some ideas for you, things that will save you both time and money in your data center.

Use Your Rack Space Wisely

The more efficiently you use your rack space, the more you can fit in your data center. In a time when many data centers are experiencing a need for rapid growth, the ideal use of space is key. So what can you do?

  • Use the right sized racks for your equipment – Many components are moving to 23” cable management racks rather than 19” ones. Be sure you have the right server rack, so you are not wasting space and risking equipment damage.
  • Use smaller gauge cables where possible – This allows for more airflow and improved equipment efficiency while also taking up less valuable space.
  • Use Zero U cable rack organizers – These will not only save you useful shelf space, but they are also easier to install, and can make repairs and changes faster too by giving technicians and installers more space to work on.

All of these things will make sure you are using your rack space in the very best way.

Avoid a Disorganized Server Rack

While racks rarely start out that way, additions, changes, and moves can result in a real mess at the rear of your server rack. Every technician has seen this from time to time, and it is not only a waste of time to sort through, but it can cost a data center in many ways.

Cables that are hanging unsupported like a curtain and not routed properly will often break at critical points, losing continuity. Connectors also suffer more wear and tear, and airflow is adversely affected, which is harder on equipment.

If you have a disorganized server rack get it cleaned up and optimize that rack as soon as you can. Use Velcro cable wraps and ties to bundle cables, and take the next time saving step, which involves labeling and organization.

Develop a Label Protocol and Label Everything

The ANSI TIA 606-B is a voluntary cable labelling standard, but one that helps data centers be as organized as possible. It involves setting up a consistent and standardized system for labelling cables and equipment. It involves using:

  • Permanent labels
  • Labels at both ends of the cables
  • Legible labels
  • Good record keeping of labeling protocols and physical locations
  • Color coding
  • A common nomenclature everyone understands

Once you have established a labeling protocol, ensure that everything is labeled. You never want to have to say, or hear someone on your team say, “I wish I had labeled that” again. Make labeling a standard procedure.

At AnD Cable Products, we offer everything from reusable cable labels to a variety of different sized Velcro cable wraps and zip ties for your cable management needs. Need something you don’t see on our website? Feel free to reach out and Request a Quote.

Optimize Your Data Center for Airflow

Whether you run cables under the floor or overhead, you need to have a plan to maximize airflow in your data center. This is easier on your HVAC system and better for your equipment overall. Any large variations in air temperature, pressure, or humidity will all impact your data center in one way or another.

This means using the right size and length cables, rack cable management in the room, and having an overall airflow plan in place. This includes all of the steps above, but adding the extra layer of understanding how each action you take will affect airflow.

Remote Monitoring and Automation

Finally, remote monitoring and automation mean fewer technicians in and out of the facility, which is easier on the HVAC systems and airflow efficiency, reducing costs. It also means you can spot problems before they start. You’ll know what is going on with cables before damage is visible to the human eye.

Not only will there be warnings and alarms related to problems, a remote monitoring system can reduce energy usage in your data center as well. This physical layer network security is often overlooked and not given the attention it should, but the right solution can save you both time and money.

There are only three kinds of currency. Time, money, and expertise. If you are going to use all of them to the best of your ability, you’ll need to save time and money in your data center. Need help or have questions about how to optimize your data center? We have answers and everything you need to get started today.


Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Optimizing Rack Space and Air Flow in Server Racks and Cabinets

Smart optimization can help you increase rack space and realize significant equipment cost savings. Read our step-by-step guide that shows you how – and how much you could save.

  • How Much Rack Space You Could Save
  • How to Optimize for Maximum Efficiency
  • Savings for New and Retrofit Installations
  • Overall Cost and Space Savings Post-Optimization

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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Rapid Data Center Growth: Keys to Rack Management Success

Rapid Data Center Growth: Keys to Rack Management Success - AnD Cable Management Blog

The COVID pandemic hit, and workers headed home for good, but not just to binge old episodes of Fringe and eat ice cream on the sofa. They headed there to work, which meant that suddenly data centers were overloaded. Operating at near maximum capacity, HVAC systems strained to keep up, and data center managers lost fistfuls of hair seeking solutions to keeping up with the exponential pace of data center growth.

Jump to Section:

Rapid Data Center Growth: Keys to Rack Management Success - AnD Cable Management Blog
Data center growth has been rapid in response to COVID-19, with remote workers needing to be online, all the time

But they recovered rapidly, developing plans for expansion and revamping of their current space, and socially distanced technicians went to work on keeping up with growth as best they could.

Now, even as recovery looms, many companies have discovered the huge advantage of remote work, and more workers will be staying in their home offices wearing athletic-leisure wear (at least from the waist down) than at any time in history.

That means the boom of data center growth is not yet over. So what are the keys to rack management success and making the most of your data center space? Here are some thoughts for you.

Assess Your Rack Management

The first step is to look at your current space. Do you have a spaghetti mess of wiring at the rear of each rack, and is your hardware suffering from previous rushed expansion and repair attempts? There is hope.

There is a very common two rack configuration in data centers. The first rack is a network rack and the second is used for horizontal cross connects. There is nothing wrong with this staple setup except that with some small and rapid changes, you can free up a great deal of space in each rack. Here’s how. 

Change Your Cable Managers

First, the cross connect rack on average contains 10 2RU cable managers managing the cables from 9 2RU patch panels with 48 ports each. A simple way to free up 20 RU of space is to replace the 2RU cable managers with Zero U Cable Management Racks.

It’s actually a simple change, and you have literally transformed your cabinet space in a matter of moments. But that isn’t all. In your two cabinet system, you typically have two 2RU cable managers, which if replaced using the above mentioned ZeroU Cable Management Racks frees up an additional 4RU of space.

Zero U Horizontal Cable Management Rack - AnD Cable Products
Our Zero U Cable Management Rack helps you keep track of your cables and manage troubleshooting – while saving you heaps of rack space

Between the two cabinets you have now freed up 24 RU of rack space. Is your configuration different? Simply think of it this way – every 2 RU cable manager you replace with a ZeroU unit frees up 2 RU of space.

For every 1 RU cable manager you replace, you gain 1 RU of space. Check out some of our best sellers below:

What else can you do to improve the utilization of your racks?

Use the Right Cables

We mentioned that 2 RU patch panels are common in the cross connect rack. In fact, there are nine of them in our example. But there is a simple change you can make to reduce the rack space you use.

Switch to 28 AWG patch cables. Because they are 36% skinnier than their counterparts, you can have the same 48 port patch panel, but substitute a compact 1RU unit instead. That cuts the amount of space you are using in half. This means your two rack system can now hold twice as many ports in the same space. Select your prefered option below – and don’t forget some cable labels for easy identification and to make troubleshooting easier:

Show me the Money

So what will this cost you? Let’s look really quickly at a breakdown if you are retrofitting your existing racks:

  • 10 ZeroU Cable Management Racks will cost you $211.00.
  • However, since you are going to free up enough room to add another 10 to the same rack, your cost will be $422.00.
  • You’ve eliminated the need for another rack, saving you $1,600.00 – $3,000.00 – or you’ve freed up space in that rack for another system.

Repeating the process of course saves you money quickly. You can also replace bulky vertical cable managers with smaller 4” units at the same time, saving yourself even more space and money.

This works the same way with new installations, reducing the space you use initially. Now you are using five cabinets rather than eight for four systems with the same number of ports.

The Cable Management Difference

One of the largest issues in rapid data center growth is floor space, airflow management, and HVAC requirements. The key to getting ahead of all of those things is the right cable management plan and efficient rack management.

Starting with ZeroU Cable Managers and the right patch cables can get your data center off on the right foot.

The Right Partnership

There are a lot of companies who sell racks, cables, and cable management equipment, but you need more than just a salesman. You need someone who understands data centers, can respond to your individual needs, and can create and ship you what you need in a timely manner.

Personal service makes all the difference. AnD Cable Products offers unique products and customized solutions should you need them. You’ll talk to a real person with real-world knowledge and experience.

Is your data center growing? Contact us today. We’re here to help you grow efficiently and manage the space you already have. We can’t wait to talk with you.


Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Optimizing Rack Space and Air Flow in Server Racks and Cabinets

Smart optimization can help you increase rack space and realize significant equipment cost savings. Read our step-by-step guide that shows you how – and how much you could save.

  • How Much Rack Space You Could Save
  • How to Optimize for Maximum Efficiency
  • Savings for New and Retrofit Installations
  • Overall Cost and Space Savings Post-Optimization

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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The Spaghetti Mess – Rack Cable Management Essentials

The Spaghetti Mess – Rack Cable Management Essentials - AnD Cable Management Blog

We often talk about the importance of network cable management in data centers, and how important it is to efficiency, airflow, equipment longevity, and more. But what about on managing cables on the rack itself? 

Jump to Section:

Do your racks have a ‘Spaghetti Mess’ of cables?

In fact, we know (because you’ve told us) that nearly everyone has encountered the “spaghetti mess” at some point or another. This is a bad thing, not just because of how it looks, but because of the possible damage, lack of efficiency, and even increased maintenance costs.

But there are solutions, and if you understand the essentials of rack cable management, things can be pretty simple for you. You don’t ever have to look at the “spaghetti mess” in your data center again. 

Let’s start at the beginning: 

The Server Rack Itself

First of all, we all know there are different kinds of racks and different sizes. While improving technology means some things are getting smaller, server components are actually getting larger. That means that wider racks, on the order of 23” cable racks or wider are more common. You can’t use a 19” cable rack for a 23” component. The end result will not only be ugly but could be disastrous.

In addition, racks, specifically in California but in other locations as well, must be built to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters. It’s a pretty major requirement, and even if you aren’t in California, there may be state or local ordinances that cover the kind of racks you can use in your data center. The rack is the foundation for a good rack cable management system.

Racks also come in different levels of quality. Always remember that cheap is probably cheap for a reason. You want racks to not only be the right size, but to be sturdy and reliable. Cheap racks that bend, fit together poorly, and that don’t work well with standard adapters and rack cable managers will end up costing you more in the long run. Make sure you have the right rack for the right job. 

Rack Cable Managers

Rack cable managers, sometimes called horizontal lacing bars, are a critical part of cable management. There are a number of varieties, both horizontal and vertical. They are often classified by the amount of space they take up on the rack. 

Horizontal Zero U Cable Management Server Rack – 23″

For example, our ZeroU rack cable management systems doesn’t take up any rack space, allowing you to be more efficient with the use of your space, reducing the overall footprint of your servers. This means using fewer racks and leaving more space for airflow. 

A good rack cable management system also gives installers and maintenance personnel space to work. They have room to get tools and their hands in where needed, meaning they can work faster and more efficiently. 

Bundling and Labeling

Bundling like cables together keeps your racks looking neat, avoiding the spaghetti mess look. But it does more than that. Running like cables together reduces electromagnetic interference, makes finding what you are looking for easier, and again reduces maintenance time. 

Bundling can be done with zip ties, and while sometimes that is appropriate, most often Velcro is a better solution. It’s reusable, can be loosened or tightened as needed when doing adds, moves, and changes. 

The other important essential? Labeling. When was the last time you thought, “I wish I (or someone else) had labeled that?” When troubleshooting and executing repairs, a simple label can reduce the time needed to sort through cables exponentially. Also, if you properly and accurately label cables, you are less likely to forget where they should be terminated. They are less likely to get tangled as you install them, allowing you to avoid the spaghetti mess.

Cable Length and Rack Cable Management

Another simple way to avoid the Spaghetti mess? Be sure your cables are cut to the right length and terminate them appropriately. Network cables that are too long are much more likely to tangle or get wrapped around one another. 

The key is simply following the old carpenter’s rule: measure twice, cut once. You don’t want cables to be too short either. This can result in sharp bends and even breakage, and those things can result in data slowdowns or worse, failures. 

Have a Rack Cable Management Plan

What is the most important element of efficient rack cable management and avoiding the spaghetti mess? Having a plan and having everything on hand that you need. Whether you are renovating and updating your data center, building a new one, or replacing old components, develop a plan.

  • How Many? – Determine the size and number of racks you will need and order them ahead of time. 
  • Plan Ahead – Develop a plan to manage cables and order the horizontal rack organizers you will need – and vertical racks!
  • Network Cable Requirements – Determine the amount of cable and the type you will need. Order them ahead of time, but also make sure you have the terminals you will need on hand. 
  • Velcro! Need we say it again? – Make sure you have more than enough Velcro cable ties on hand to bundle cables as needed. 
  • Colored Zip Ties – While not always the best solution (see Velcro) overall, zip ties still have their place in rack cable management. Have plenty on hand to aid with cable routing. 
  • Cable Labels – have plenty of custom labels on hand and use them. Make sure every installer is on the same page as far as the way things will be labelled. 

A plan will keep the spaghetti mess from developing in the first place, saving you hours later on. 

Find a Dependable Partner

Not to brag, but AnD Cable is one of the most dependable in the industry. You want a partner with unparalleled customer service who responds quickly to your needs and can even offer custom solutions when needed. 

We’ve been working with data centers for years, and we’d be happy to be your partner whether you are updating your data center, building a new one, or simply need a long term supplier for whatever the future holds.

Get in touch and let us know how we can help you. We’re here to answer your questions. Avoid the spaghetti mess, but if you have one already, let us help you get things cleaned up. 

WHITEPAPER – Understanding Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring in Modern Networks

Understanding Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring in Modern Networks - AnD Cable Products Whitepaper

An overview of the differences between stranded and solid conductor wiring, the properties of each and the best cable type to use in a variety of typical settings.

  • Types of Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring
  • Comparison of Electrical Properties
  • Factors Impacting Attenuation / Insertion Loss
  • Choosing the Right Cable


About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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How Cable Management and Airflow Management Impact Each Other in Data Centers

How Cable Management and Airflow Management Impact Each Other - Cable Management Blog

Here’s the simple truth of the matter. Cable management can impact airflow management , and airflow should definitely inform the method, type, and execution of cable management. To understand how the two impact each other and what the best overall solution will be for your data center, it is important for use to take a look at cable management and airflow from a high level perspective.

Jump to Section:

How Cable Management and Airflow Management Impact Each Other
Airflow is an Important Factor in Data Centers

The Goal of Airflow Management

So what is the goal of airflow management? The goals are twofold: preventing large variations in air temperature and air pressure. This means separating supply air mass and return air mass through design.

Just grouping cables together with a zip tie does nothing to facilitate this and can actually result in a serious disruption of airflow. What happens as a result? Lower fan efficiency, higher HVAC costs, potential changes in pressure, and even equipment damage or failure.

The current problem? Because more people are working from home or adopting the work from anywhere culture as a result of COVID, data centers are having to increase capacity, and they may not have additional floorspace to accommodate more server racks. Since conventional cable management can use up as much as 25% of rack space, this means that intelligently designed rack cable management is more important than ever.

Because of this it is important that cable management and airflow be looked at as an entire package. There are two areas of cable management in a data center: cable management in the room itself, essentially the cables that run between server racks, and rack cable management.

Cable Management in the Room

Of course, we must manage the cables that run between server racks, and they have to go somewhere. There are essentially two approaches, and both can create unique issues. They are running cables under the floor or running cables overhead.

Perhaps the most common is underfloor cabling where the underfloor space is also used for cool air transport. This is usually a very efficient method for separating supply and return air masses. However. When you put more holes in the floor, say to accommodate more server racks, the risk of “bypass air” or mixing the two airflows increases.

Why not just go with overhead cable management then? In some cases, this works exceptionally well, although there are budget and logistical obstacles. The height of the cable pathway is also often an issue.

Think of it this way. If your data center uses the underfloor space for air system management and not cable management, overhead pathways are fine. If they are placed too high though, the warm return air underneath can actually get too turbulent, resulting in a mix of the supply and return air. This created a temperature bypass.

But this bypass also can increase variations in pressure throughout the data center, causing the fans and other mechanisms to work harder. It’s a delicate balance.

Rack Cable Management

There are a lot of best practices and industry standards for airflow and cable management between servers, but often rack cable management falls into the “out of sight, out of mind” category. That’s a mistake, as cable management at this critical point can have a huge impact on airflow management.

While this seems like it should be common sense, the practice of good rack cable management seems to be hit or miss. As early as 2002, research done by Paul Artman, David Moss and Greg Bennett (Dell PowerEdge 1650: Rack Impacts on Cooling of High Density Servers) showed that poorly bundled cables, overloading cables on a horizontal lacing bar (particularly 1U configurations) could result in as much as a nine degree increase in component temperature.

This is a good argument for ZeroU rack cable managers and other more advanced techniques. Also, more data centers are moving to 23” or larger racks as opposed to the standard 19” racks, because equipment manufacturers are constantly increasing the computing power per U space. As a result there are more cables per rack. As cable bundles get larger, they also need more space between them to increase airflow.

For some components that possess a single fan intake side and hot-switchable components on the other, there is really only one path for cables to go. Careful cable management means not only ensuring that the fan intake is not blocked, but that there is an airflow egress as well. Often specialized chimney cabinets that allow air to enter both the front and the rear of the cabinet can be used for these applications.

The Effect of Poor Cable Management

Poor cable management, whether cables between server racks or rack cable management, will negatively impact airflow management. More than just the increased costs associated with HVAC systems, poor airflow can also lead to premature equipment and cable failures, overheating, and even increased downtime.

5 Ways Effective Cable Management Benefits Your Data Center - Cable Management Blog
A ‘Spaghetti Mess’ of cables blocks network rack airflow very effectively!

Since uptime is the most important metric to most data centers, cable management solutions need to be an integral part of any planned data center and prioritized expansion.

Devising a Comprehensive Solution

What’s the solution? The best path is to be proactive rather than reactive. Plan airflow management and cable management together as part of an overall data center plan. Be sure you and your staff have the right tools and materials. This not only includes the right racks and rack cable management tools like ZeroU rack managers and chimney racks where needed, but things like Velcro, wire tags, and even colored zip ties to keep things organized.

If you do have to do a sudden expansion due to increases in demands, bring in the whole team and listen to everyone’s ideas. Use industry best practices where possible, but understand that creative solutions and innovation may be necessary in extraordinary times.

Do you have questions about effective rack cable management, or do you need tools and supplies to get started? Contact us here at AnD Cable. We have the materials you need and the know how to help you select the best product for your situation.

WHITEPAPER – Understanding Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring in Modern Networks

Understanding Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring in Modern Networks - AnD Cable Products Whitepaper

An overview of the differences between stranded and solid conductor wiring, the properties of each and the best cable type to use in a variety of typical settings.

  • Types of Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring
  • Comparison of Electrical Properties
  • Factors Impacting Attenuation / Insertion Loss
  • Choosing the Right Cable


About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

Looking for other Cable Management Blogs? Top 5 Cable Management Blogs

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The Impact on Data Center Services – Before and After COVID

The Impact on Data Center Services - Before and After Covid - Cable Management Blog

The COVID pandemic has impacted nearly every industry, and while some have been impacted negatively, others are thriving. The key to all of these things is the ability to adapt. Nowhere is this truer than in data centers. The impact of COVID on data center services has been significant, and those in this “essential industry” can’t work remotely for the most part.

Jump to Section:

The Impact on Data Center Services - Before and After Covid - Cable Management Blog
The Impact on Data Center Services – Before and After Covid

The truth is, troubled industries like airlines, hotels, travel sites, and restaurants were not huge consumers anyway.

“The upside cases are actually higher than any of the drawdowns coming in from the troubled sectors,” said Sami Badri, Senior Equity Analyst at Credit Suisse said during a CAPRE presentation. “These troubled sectors were not big customers in the first place, whereas the newer industries that represent a large cash flow stream for data center services are flexing even larger than they ever have before. This is creating a new high-tide environment for demand for the overall tech sector.”

While the financial impact has been positive overall, it has created an increased demand, which has an direct impact on what data centers are and how they operate. What has that impact been, and what are data centers doing about it?

Increased Demand in Unusual Places

“Almost as soon as lockdown started,” David Issel, the asset manager at a Comcast data center known as a “headend” told us, “this place was running at 95%. Fans and our HVAC system was at capacity.”

The Work from Home or rather Work from Anywhere demands of COVID have increased the need for residential reliability and speed on a larger scale. What was evenings of surfing and streaming are now days filled with workers tethered to their home offices, computers, standing desks, and dependent on their routers and home WiFi in ways we never would have thought of in January of 2020.

Data Centers Services have been quick to respond and increase capacity. “Even though the components are getting smaller, the units themselves are getting larger,” Issel told us. “We’re using 23” racks instead of 19” racks, and that means it’s more important than ever to conserve space.”

The other issue? It takes people to add hardware and capacity to a data center, but only so many people can be present in the facility and still remain socially distanced and adhering to mask requirements. Keeping employees safe is a top priority.

Changing Attitude in Lagging Industries

“Some industries have never been well architected to handle work from home or organize a virtual workforce,” Badri told us. “Three of those sectors are healthcare, government and education. We’ve been hearing that government IT spending pledges alone are up more than 20 percent. Education budgets are also increasing and shifting up. Other categories playing catch-up include healthcare, which has been a very big pain point for the U.S.”

This includes things like telemedicine, schools that are either operating 100% virtually or at least offering distance options to students and parents alike. Higher education is struggling the most, as universities train staff, shift to online platforms, and prepare for an entirely new education platform.

While even the Federal government has been lagging in using technology, local, regional, and state governments find themselves even further behind. The question is whether these industries will continue to advance digitally or whether, as the impact of COVID inevitably recedes, the demand will recede with it.

The Need for Speed

Consumers and others often confuse bandwidth and speed. However, there is a need for both, as more people are online at the same time than under normal circumstances. This is bandwidth, or the capacity of the network to handle volume.

Speed is about how fast data can be delivered. Both are vital for consumers. Imagine a neighborhood populated with day traders whose income can be impacted by millisecond delays. That same neighborhood might be filled with school children doing school work online during work hours.

For data centers and companies like Comcast and other internet providers, it is about the ability to scale. “We’ve got plans for getting ahead, and we’re working on expanding HVAC and capacity,” David Issel told us about his particular headend.

This need for speed may mean that new data centers and headends need to be built in order for companies to keep up.

Coming 5G and Other Advancements

A digital revolution and a move to more remote operations, companies like Zoom, Slack, and other communication platforms were things many thought would take years to manifest. Due to COVID, this digital revolution has manifested in months instead.

But there was already a revolution on the horizon. The 5G and IoT revolution was already putting pressure on data centers to adapt and be ready for a new, faster normal. 5G is about more than just speed though. It makes a data center more flexible in more ways.

“The flexibility includes things such as the desegregation of the control and user plains of the network and also migration towards distributed baseband processing and the radio access network (RAN). In turn, this leads to opportunities for virtualization of RAN network functions and it enables the convergence of the RAN into the data center space,” Mike Wolfe, Vice President of Wireless Network Engineering at CommScope explained in a recent DCD article, How 5G will Affect the Structure of Data Centers?

“What this means is there could be a lot of smaller data centers, distributed geographically in such a way that’s going to make them a little bit more difficult to manage. Connectivity will be important in terms of how we do that,” Jamie Birdnow, also of CommScope shared in the webinar.

While it is safe to say that data center services will require huge changes to accommodate and enable 5G, there is still a lot that is unknown.

For example, we don’t know is how applications are likely to develop over a number of. Some things will not evolve as expected, and there are surprises. Autonomous cars will require far more sophistication than remote surgeries.

The key is to understand that data centers were already in a state of change, and the COVID crisis has only accelerated that.

The Bottom Line in Data Center Services

The data center industry has experienced a focus shift due to COVID, and as with any revolution during a crisis, it comes with challenges. That means the efficient use of space, the expansion of capacity more rapidly than planned, and employing other techniques to “future proof” data center services.

Virtual connectivity is a must,” Badri told us. “It’s no longer a debate. It’s now a case of survival and relevance and productivity. You’re starting to see permanent shifts.”

That speaks back to David Issel and Comcast, not only scrambling to catch up and expand, but to prepare for whatever tomorrow may bring.

A key to Issel’s success is his partnership with Louis and AnD Cable Products. Not only does his data center depend on their products and reliability, but they’ve also worked together to create custom hardware that is “perfect for the application,” Issel told us.

It’s these types of cooperation and efficiency, like the ZeroU Horizontal Cable Managers AnD Cable Products offers, which allow technicians to work more easily, increase the life of cables, and more.

If you want to “future proof” your data center services and you are looking for a physical hardware supplier that will be there for you as you expand and adapt, contact us at AnD Cable Products today. We’d love to talk about how we can best work together.


About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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