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Power Cable Red Flags – Avoid for Safety and Better Data Center Performance

Two SJT power cable for data centers

Data centers are the backbone of modern digital infrastructure. Yet, minor oversights like substandard power cables can jeopardize safety, reliability, and energy efficiency. Understanding these power cable red flags is crucial for ensuring optimal data center performance.

This article aims to help not only data center engineers and technicians. It’s also for IT managers who handle general networking and cabling for organizations with smaller IT infrastructures. Edge data centers and modular data centers in universities, retail, and hospitals will also find this article vital, especially for safety.

Power Cable Red Flag - SJT Cable in Hazard Background

Power Cable Red Flags 

Non-Compliant with Industry Standards – No Certification

It is important to ensure that your data center power cables meet the standards set by recognized industry bodies such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), or the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). 

Non-compliant cables may not have undergone rigorous testing for safety, performance, and reliability. Be aware of cables that lack proper certification marks or appear to have forged certifications.

Certification marks from reputable organizations like UL, CE (Conformité Européenne), and CSA (Canadian Standards Association) ensure the product meets specific safety and performance standards. Cables without these marks, or with counterfeit marks, are a significant risk that is not worth taking.

If your cable supplier isn’t able to show any form of certification, you may want to review your options. 

Inadequate Shielding and Insulation

Power cables with poor or missing shielding and insulation are another red flag. Proper shielding and insulation protect against electromagnetic interference (EMI), physical damage, and electrical leaks. 

EMI can cause data corruption and loss, while inadequate insulation raises the risk of shorts and shocks.

The IEC publishes guidelines on cable insulation requirements, emphasizing the importance of materials that can withstand the operational environment of data centers.

Here are some construction signs to look out for: 

  • Inconsistent Cable Thickness: Variations in the cable’s diameter along its length can indicate low-quality manufacturing and inconsistent insulation.
  • Easily Exposed Conductors: The cable likely has poor insulation quality if the insulation feels flimsy or the inner wires are easily exposed with minimal pressure.
  • Suspiciously Low Price: Extremely low compared to similar cables from reputable brands might indicate substandard materials and poor quality. Low pricing is excellent for business, but watch out for overtly low ones that seem unreasonable.

Incorrect Cable Gauge

Using an incorrect cable gauge (thickness) for your data center’s power load is a major red flag. The American Wire Gauge (AWG) system dictates a wire’s current-carrying capacity, and undersized cables will dangerously overheat, posing a fire risk and potentially damaging equipment. Data centers operate with high power demands, making this even more critical.

Incorrectly rated cables can also fail under stress. Always consult the National Electrical Code (NEC) and equipment specifications to select the correct cable gauge and type. Be careful of suppliers that will sell you lower-gauged power cables than what they advertise. Not only will an incorrect cable gauge mess up your data center power cable management, but it will also lead to safety issues and equipment damage.

Absence of Fire Resistance

Although there are plenty of data center power cable types available, all of them should at least have some fire-resistant rating. Power cables with zero fire resistance are a major red flag, especially for data centers. Fire-resistant cables minimize the risk of spreading fire and releasing hazardous fumes in case of a fire. The National Electrical Code (NEC) specifies the types of cables suitable for different environments, and it emphasizes the need for fire-resistant materials in settings prone to fire risks.

Plenum-rated cables are highly recommended for areas running through plenum spaces, such as above ceilings or below floors. These cables come with special jackets that reduce the potential of fire spreading and minimize the emission of toxic smoke in the event of a fire. This feature is crucial in data center environments where the safety of personnel and infrastructure is at risk from the rapid spread of fire and toxic emissions.

Dangerous Power Cable Manufacturing Practices in the Industry

Here’s a list of common issues in the cable manufacturing industry that you should avoid. If your cables have any of the characteristics mentioned below, they’re likely sub-standard and should be returned. 

Poor-quality copper used in power cable - avoid this type of power cable

Problems with the Copper Conductor

  • Poor-Quality Copper: Impurities in the copper reduce conductivity, leading to decreased current capacity, higher energy losses (as heat), and potential for overheating.
  • Low Copper Strand Count: Fewer strands within the conductor reduce the cable’s flexibility and increase the resistance, leading to heating and potential breakage.
  • Smaller AWG: Using a smaller gauge wire than required means the cable cannot safely handle the intended electrical load, creating a fire hazard.
  • Alternative Metals Dipped in Copper: This deceptive practice lowers the overall conductivity of the cable, leading to the same issues as using lower-quality copper.
  • Alternative Metal Alloys: Alloys of less conductive metals will create higher resistance in the cable, causing energy loss, heating, and reduced performance.

Issues with Terminals and Connections

  • Hollow Pins: These lack strength and reduce the contact area, leading to higher-resistance connections that can overheat and fail.
  • Sub-Standard Material: Cheaply made terminals can corrode, deform, or break, disrupting power flow and potentially causing dangerous short circuits.
  • Improper Crimping: Loose or incorrect crimping creates a high-resistance connection, leading to heat buildup and potential failure of the connection.
  • Misaligned Pins in Housing: Misaligned pins can cause short circuits, arcing, and damage to equipment.
  • Sub-Standard Inserts and Shells: Cheap materials lack strength and durability, increasing the risk of physical damage or loose connections to the cable.

Cable Construction Problems

  • Low-Quality Insulation Material: Inferior insulation and jacket material are more prone to damage, exposing conductors, creating electrical hazards, and shortening cable lifespan.
  • No Cable Filler: Without fillers, cables become unbalanced and prone to kinking. This can damage internal wires and make them susceptible to coming loose from the connector.
  • Using Recycled Plastics: Recycled plastics for insulation can be brittle and break down faster, increasing the risk of electrical shorts and safety problems.
  • Faulty Molding Time/Maintenance: Poor manufacturing practices affect the integrity of connectors and the overall build quality, leading to failures and potential hazards.

 Other Power Cable Red Flags

  • Fake Certifications: Power cables lacking legitimate certifications (UL, ETL, etc.) may not meet safety standards and pose a significant risk.
  • Falsified Testing: This indicates a disregard for safety and proper quality control.
  • Code Violations: Cables that don’t meet electrical codes are unsafe and may be illegal to use.
  • Low-quality Packaging: Substandard packaging can suggest overall poor quality and a higher risk of damage during shipping.

If you want to boost your data center’s performance by optimizing its power cables, we recommend reading our article on Proper Power Cable Usage Prevents Poor Performance.

Quality Power Cables for Zero Headaches and Genuine Long-term Savings

Investing in low-quality power cables is a gamble that might save a few dollars upfront but could lead to costly consequences down the line. From fire hazards and equipment damage to downtime and compliance issues, the risks are too high. When building or maintaining a data center, prioritizing top-quality power cables is a wise investment with long-term payoffs.

At AnD Cable Products, we understand the critical role power cables and server power cables play in ensuring safe and efficient data center operations. Our power cables are meticulously designed and manufactured to meet the highest standards, using premium materials and adhering to strict certifications.

AnD Cable Products top-quality power cables

By choosing AnD Cable Products, you gain peace of mind knowing your power infrastructure is built on a foundation of quality, reliability, and safety – minimizing future headaches and maximizing data center performance. Request a Quote for bulk orders.

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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Data Center Cable Management – Best Practices for Efficiency Optimization

Data Center Cable Management - Best Practices for Efficiency and Improvement - Featured Image

Let’s discuss the core cabling challenges modern data centers struggle with and their solutions. In this article, we highlight what you can do through proper data center cable management to improve data center operations, performance, savings and efficiency.

Cable management is a fundamental aspect of the data center industry. Without it, AI, 5G, automation software, and other innovations dominating the news would be possible. Cables are a vital building block of IT infrastructure and will continue to be so as the pace of technological change continues to increase.

For data center managers, engineers, technicians, and others in data center operations, refining your network cabling is more than just necessary – it is critical. Let’s discuss the challenges, the consequences of not addressing them and the practical solutions available.

Data Center With Proper Data Center Cable Management

The Current State of Cable Management in Data Centers

The growth of data transmission has been remarkable in recent years, driven by a variety of factors, including advancements in internet infrastructure, increased day-to-day (and sometimes minute-by-minute) online activities, a surge in digital transactions, and the widespread adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT). You can measure this colossal growth in the sheer number of Google search query statistics this year alone: 99,000 searches per second or 8.5 billion searches per day! 

Internet Infrastructure

The expansion of high-speed internet access, including the deployment of fiber-optic networks and the rollout of 5G wireless technology, has significantly enhanced data transmission speeds and capacity.

This new wireless technology allowed us to fly through the internet at 20 gigabits per second. That’s 100 times faster than its predecessor, 4G! Regardless, data transmission at its core is still rooted on servers that depend heavily on cables to make these wireless transmissions possible.

Many edge computing and modular servers, which are relatively new, still use humble Cat6 and Cat5E cables, though the shift to faster and more efficient fiber optic cables is happening.

Everyday Online Activities

There’s little debate that day-to-day usage continues to grow. The popularity of video and music streaming platforms has surged, leading to the need for faster data transmission to support high-quality streaming.

Regardless of the platform, whether social media networks or pay-to-use services and streaming apps, they all depend on physical servers. These servers are massive and use unimaginable amounts of cables to allow real-time activities and communication on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

E-Commerce

Although data transmissions through the communication mediums mentioned above seem massive, so are e-commerce platforms. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has over 100 data centers worldwide. Each data center can have around 50,000 – 1.4 million servers. 

Amazon disclosed this in 2014. Who knows how massive their server infrastructure is today? And to make it more staggering, we’re only talking about one e-commerce platform. There are approximately 9.1 million e-commerce platforms

Add to this, the vast network that cryptocurrency depends on. From simple mining setups at home that require cabling, to whales that situate their operations in warehouses, they need to implement good cable management to be effective.

Network Cabling E-Commerce Platforms

The Future State

The growth of data transmission is exponential, challenging the capacity of existing infrastructure. As a result, there is a constant push for innovation and investment in network technologies. The need for better infrastructure to meet the increasing demand for faster, more reliable, and secure data transmission is still high. 

The development of technologies like 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and the expansion of fiber-optic networks will play a crucial role in accommodating ongoing data transmission growth. Additionally, data security and privacy considerations become more critical as data volumes increase, leading to a continued focus on safeguarding the transmission and storage of personal information.

At its foundation, proper cable networking or data center cable management is a fundamental aspect that makes all that possible. It’s not an understatement to say that at the current and even in the foreseeable future, cables will play an invaluable part in our IT industry. 

Challenges and Problems in Almost Every Type of Data Center

Now that we’ve discussed our current IT infrastructure and the needs of the future, let’s delve into the challenges that data centers have with cable management. We’ll focus on the main challenges in both the planning stage and post-planning stages, early warning signs and the consequences if cable management issues are ignored.

Base Causes of Cable Management Challenges

Professional network cabling, especially at the highest level (data center cable management), truly is an imperative. When done correctly, data centers have the potential to save millions of dollars by ensuring more reliable and stable uptimes. It also speeds up troubleshooting, lessening the odds of downtime dramatically. The reasons for network cabling challenges are complex, however there are a few core causes – the basics – of improper cabling:

Training and Expertise – a significant number of network cabling problems can be due to a lack of knowledge and experience. When data center operators skim on training, duplicate installations can happen. Duplicates can dry up the organization’s budget and exhaust cable management components. Experienced managers and technicians will know how to avoid many issues before they become problems. 

Management Hierarchy – when there is a shortage of expertise, managers and technicians can be left to make big decisions, with potentially catastrophic consequences. This can lead to cabling changes, server rework, and many others that won’t have any immediate impact but can create complexities over time. Moreover, most technicians do not document changes, making it difficult to track changes that may have caused errors and problems in the system. Strict standards and accountability are central to addressing this.

Maintenance – some data centers skim on maintenance. When outages occur, and cables are replaced, the old and problematic cables are often left secured as they take too much time to remove properly. Leaving dead or unused cables in place is a common cause of overloading server racks, resulting in less airflow from the “spaghetti mess”, loss of device performance and more time consuming troubleshooting.

The Sheer Volume of Component Management

The most common challenge many data centers face is the sheer volume of components. Data centers with 40 to 50 racks can have a minimum of 20,000 cabling and port components on their initial launch. Add the growth factor, and the volume grows accordingly.

The volume alone isn’t the only issue either; it’s the documentation. Problems arise when data centers want to cut costs using simple spreadsheets for complex operations. Spreadsheets may work for one or two racks or modular data centers deployed in schools and smaller establishments. But for data centers housing thousands and thousands of servers, it is a hazard. 

Underdeveloped Management and Personnel Structure

Having operators for mid-sized and large data centers throughout the day to communicate with is vital. Technicians and engineers should be available for outages immediately. If management is complacent and undervalues shift schedules, unnecessarily lengthy outages can happen. 

The challenge here is that finding talent isn’t easy, especially in an industry that has become increasingly competitive. Other problems can occur when managers fail to provide complete instructions to technicians, causing on-the-spot improvisation that may lead to faulty installations and discrepancies between reality and the documentation. 

Unnecessary Expansion Spending 

As a data center operator, you face an ongoing issue of insufficient port capacity, no matter how much you invest in expansion. The most frequent reason for this shortage is outdated cabling that hasn’t been removed – as described above.

This creates the possibility of having to make unnecessary investments in costly port expansions when you could have achieved the same impact by efficiently utilizing existing ports. These investments tie up crucial funds that data center managers could have better used elsewhere.

Cable Smoldering and Lack of Cable Labeling

In cable trays with numerous cables bundled together, concerns arise about the effects of heat. In the worst-case scenario, you might have encountered cable smoldering!

When identifying the cause or investigating excessive heat, a critical issue emerges: nobody knows which cables pass through the hotspot. Are these cables purely for data, or do they also carry electrical power, such as Power over Ethernet (PoE)? The root of this problem likely stems from insufficient cable labeling and a lack of knowledge or documentation regarding their characteristics.

PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) Improvement and Sustainability Goals

With the increasing focus on the environmental impact of data center operations and evolving regulations, data centers are compelled to reevaluate their cabling practices. It becomes evident that subpar cable management poses multiple challenges to your green IT initiatives. 

Firstly, inadequately organized cables disrupt airflow for cooling, hindering your efforts to attain the desired energy efficiency levels. Secondly, data centers lacking comprehensive documentation struggle to implement the circular reuse of cabling equipment. The same obstacles apply to advancing the use of cabling components manufactured with sustainability criteria and a minimized CO2 footprint.

Audit Challenges and Compliance

Preparing for certifications like ISO 27001 or compliance audits for structured cabling standards places significant demands on your organization. During audits, critical findings, such as non-compliance issues, often emerge due to failure to meet the requirements of the relevant standards. 

The root cause of these problems usually lies in a lack of knowledge about the existing structured cabling; incomplete documentation and necessary corrections that were not identified in day-to-day operational reporting. Last-minute changes just before an audit are typically unfeasible, putting you at risk of not obtaining crucial certifications. Additionally, maintaining compliance tends to slip after an audit, resulting in new issues to address during recertification.

Data Center Network Cabling By Two Professionals

Consequences of Ignoring Data Center Issues and Challenges

Ignoring data center issues and challenges can lead to various negative consequences that impact business operations, efficiency, and reliability. Here are some of the potential outcomes of neglecting these problems:

  • Downtime and Service Disruptions – failing to address issues can result in unplanned downtime and service disruptions, affecting productivity and customer satisfaction.
  • Financial Loss – data center problems can lead to financial losses due to downtime, data loss, and inefficient resource utilization.
  • Data Loss and Security Breaches – inadequate attention to security and infrastructure issues can expose data to the risk of loss or breaches, potentially compromising sensitive information.
  • Inefficient Resource Allocation – ignoring capacity and efficiency problems can lead to suboptimal resource allocation, resulting in wasted resources and higher operating costs.
  • Reduced Competitiveness – unresolved challenges can hinder a company’s ability to compete effectively in a data-dependent market.
  • Regulatory Non-Compliance – neglecting issues related to regulatory compliance can lead to legal and financial penalties.
  • Environmental Impact – poorly managed data centers can have a negative environmental footprint, contributing to energy inefficiency and e-waste.
  • Reputation Damage – frequent service disruptions and data security issues can damage an organization’s reputation and erode customer trust.
  • Missed Opportunities – ignoring advancements in data center technology can result in missed opportunities for improved performance, scalability, and cost savings.
  • Operational Inefficiencies – unresolved challenges can lead to operational inefficiencies, making it harder to adapt to changing business needs and market conditions.
  • Audit Failures – failing to address compliance issues can result in audit failures, making it nearly impossible to secure certifications and contracts.
  • Workforce Frustration – data center problems can lead to employee frustration, as they struggle to work effectively when systems are unreliable or slow.
  • Resource and Time Drain – continually addressing emergencies and troubleshooting issues can drain valuable resources and divert time away from strategic initiatives.
  • Lack of Scalability – neglected issues can hinder the scalability of the data center, making it challenging to accommodate growth and expansion.
  • Long-Term Costs – delaying necessary investments and maintenance can lead to higher long-term costs when problems become more extensive and complex.
  • Innovation Stagnation – focusing on managing persistent problems can hinder innovation and adopting new technologies.

As you can see from the list above, the consequences can be varied and widespread. To mitigate risk, it’s crucial for organizations to proactively address data center cabling challenges, implement best practices and stay informed about advancements in cable management innovation. Regular maintenance, monitoring, and planning are essential for maintaining a reliable and efficient data center that supports the needs of the business and its customers.

Cable Management Planning

If you’re seeking a more in-depth and technical guide on cable management planning, please read our whitepaper – Effective Cable Management Planning In Modern Data Center Architecture. Here, you’ll learn better strategies from the data center pre-deployment stage to the deployment stage. You’ll also see charts on Network Architecture Types to help you make the best decision for your future or current data center. 

Read here: Effective Cable Management Planning In Modern Data Center Architecture

Manager Follows Data Center Cable Management Tips

Data Center Cable Management Tips and Solutions That You Can Implement

Effective cable management is crucial for maintaining a well-organized, efficient, and reliable data center. Here are some cable management solutions that you can implement to improve the organization and performance of your data center:

  • Cable Trays and Runways – install cable trays and runways to support and route cables overhead or under the floor. This keeps cables organized and out of the way, facilitating airflow and maintenance. This reduces heat buildup and ensures smooth operations.
  • Cable Labels and Identification – label cables clearly at both ends to make it easy to identify and trace them. Utilize color coding and cable markers for quick visual recognition.
  • Cable Management Racks – use cable management racks with slots, rings, and hooks to neatly bundle and secure cables. These help prevent tangling and maintain order – moving you away from the dreaded “spaghetti mess”!
  • Cable Ties and Velcro Straps – secure cables with cable ties or Velcro straps to bundle them together. Velcro straps are reusable and allow for easy adjustments.
  • Patch Panels – implement patch panels for network and server connections. These panels streamline cable connections and make it easier to trace and manage cables.
  • Cable Management Software – use cable management software to document, track, and manage the physical layout of your cabling infrastructure. This aids in troubleshooting and planning. Avoid using generic spreadsheets for complex operations – they’re just not good enough in today’s landscape.
  • High-Density Cable Solutions – utilize high-density cabling solutions that offer compact, space-saving designs for improved cable management in tight spaces.
  • Cable Organizers and Raceways – install cable organizers and raceways to conceal and route cables along walls or ceilings, keeping them organized and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Cable Length Management – ensure cables are the appropriate length to avoid excessive slack or tension. Custom cable lengths reduce clutter and improve cable management. It also saves the company a fortune (see our whitepaper for more on this – Understanding Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring in Modern Networks)
  • Regular Maintenance – schedule – and stick to – regular cable maintenance to identify and address issues, such as damaged or disconnected cables, and to ensure optimal performance. Regular maintenance also includes removing obsolete cables to avoid unnecessary expansion spending.
  • Rack and Cabinet Organization – arrange servers and networking equipment in racks and cabinets, using cable management accessories like cable arms, cable management racks, and cable shelves within the racks.
  • Cable Pathway Planning – plan cable pathways, ensuring proper separation of power and data cables to minimize interference and maintain safety.
  • Documentation and Labeling – maintain up-to-date documentation of your cabling infrastructure, including cable types, lengths, and connection points. Ensure labels are legible, clear and accurate.
  • Regular Audits – conduct routine audits to verify the accuracy of cable documentation, check for cable integrity, and identify areas needing improvement.

By implementing these cable management solutions, you can enhance the organization, efficiency, and reliability of your data center, ultimately reducing downtime, simplifying troubleshooting, reducing expenses, and improving overall operational performance.

Data Center Rack Cable Management – The Best Solution

Horizontal Zero U Cable Management Shelf

One of the most common issues we’ve discussed is unnecessary spending on cables and rack components. Due to the exponential growth in this industry, it’s easy to understand why expansion equates to unending expenses. However, many of these expenses are impractical, especially ports, when there are simply obsolete cables you need to remove to free up more ports. 

Another typical expense is buying new server racks. This is not necessary when there are components that optimize server racks that free up more space to add in devices. And that’s where innovative cable managers come in. 

Content Promotions Horizontal Zero-U Cable Management Shelf

The Horizontal Zero U Cable Management Shelf enables technicians and engineers to set up rack servers to free up to 25-30% of rack space. Instead of buying one new rack cabinet, you can optimize three and get the same real estate for networking and storage devices as buying a new rack cabinet. 

AnD’s Zero U Cable Management Racks are the ultimate alternatives to conventional 1U or 2U cable organizers. With these cable managers, you can rest assured that you’ll save money and space while enhancing performance and setup.  

For more guidance, read our whitepaper Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs. In it, we show you how to arrange your server racks, install cable management racks and the best cabling to use so that you’re fully optimized for maximum efficiency.

Read here: Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Optimize Your Data Center With Cable Management Racks Now!

Data Center Cable Management Summary

In summation, we’ve explored three main topics: 

  1. Data Center Challenges – we explored the common challenges faced by data centers, such as issues with management, scalability, security and compliance, and environmental impact. These challenges can impact operations and reliability.
  2. Consequences of Ignoring Challenges – neglecting data center cabling issues can lead to numerous negative consequences, including downtime, financial loss, data breaches, and reputation damage. It can also hinder sustainability and regulatory compliance efforts.
  3. Cable Management Solutions – to address cable management issues in data centers, we discussed various solutions, including cable trays, labeling, cable managers, cable ties, patch panels, and software tools. Proper cable management is essential for organization, efficiency, and reliability.

Implementing these solutions can help data centers overcome challenges, reduce the negative consequences of neglect, and maintain a well-organized and efficient infrastructure.

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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Edge Data Centers – Space and the Final Frontier

Edge of space - Edge Data Centers - Space and the Final Frontier - Cable Management Blog

Computing on the edge: it seems that everyone is doing it, from big industry to manufacturers, from ISPs to Cloud Computing centers. When you can locate computing and analytics power closer to machines connected via the IoT and other data sources, the faster you can gather data, and the more data you can store and analyze in a timely manner. For some, edge data centers seem like the final frontier for data.

Feature Edge Data Centers - Space and the Final Frontier - Cable Management Blog

This has resulted in data centers that vary in size, from the size of a very large cabinet to those contained in the space of a small shipping container. But like any journey to the edge, there are challenges and risks. There are two primary ones we will address here:

  • Temperature – Because of the small spaces edge data centers often occupy, airflow and temperature control can be tricky.
  • Space – Smaller size also means that saving space is critical, and on the flip side, can also enable more airflow and indirect cooling in a confined area.

In this way, the two primary challenges are related, and often a solution that mitigates one will also help mitigate the other. Let’s take a quick look at each of these.

Controlling the Environment on the Edge

The temperatures that edge data centers operate at are critical. And there is a huge difference between the cooling we need for a building designed to keep people comfortable, and a building designed to serve machines. Think of it this way: if someone opens the door to your office, you may feel a blast of warm or cold air, depending on the time of year. Your discomfort disappears quickly when the door closes, as the HVAC system takes over, and brings air back into the broad temperature tolerances humans can endure.

However, what happens when you go to an edge data center and open the door? The answer is, it depends on where it is. Large, brick and mortar data centers can be located in areas with minimal environmental challenges and low risk of natural disasters. But edge data centers must be located, well, where they are needed. That means in dusty and dirty environments, areas with extreme temperature fluctuations, and more.

There are really only two choices:

  • Develop and deploy equipment designed to withstand extremes, at a higher price point. A good example is cellular equipment like that developed by AT&T. However, the cost of this equipment is too high for standard edge data center deployment at scale.
  • Work with existing, readily available equipment and use unique strategies to combat environmental changes at a small scale, including using tents or shrouds for entry and exit, using handheld temperature and humidity monitors to evaluate current conditions, and developing strategic plans for unexpected events.

Another part of the solution is to use remote monitoring, AI and the IoT in edge data centers to mitigate the need for human intervention. Monitoring the health of equipment and preventing disaster in the first place is one of the keys to efficient management of edge data centers.

This is but one of the challenges data center managers face. The second is the efficient use of available space.

Saving Space

While cooling and environmental control are critical, so is the efficient use of space. This can result in increased airflow and easier HVAC solutions while also enabling more servers to be installed in the same amount of space.

This involves a few key steps:

  • Rack Selection – Whether a data center uses 23” or 19” racks, there are rack solutions that take up less space, and are also able to use better rack management options.
  • Cable ManagementZeroU horizontal cable managers makes more room for servers in a single rack, and they prevent the “spaghetti mess” that can happen in server racks, and be especially problematic in edge data centers that are more compact.
  • Compact Vertical Cable Management11U cable managers also save space and keep cables organized and easy to access should moves, changes, or repairs be needed.

Anything that can be done to save space in an edge data center makes facing the other challenges related to environmental control easier, but it also has another impact: an economic one. The less space you need to get the computing power you need, the more compact your data center can be. Alternatively, this can give you space to scale as needed without creating yet another data center space.

At the edge, there are always challenges, but there are also solutions. From controlling the environment in and around the data center to using the space in the most efficient way possible, with the right equipment, these obstacles can be transformed into opportunities to change not only how much data is collected and how quickly it can be acted upon, but where it happens as well.

Do you have questions about saving space in your edge data center? Are you looking for remote monitoring solutions? Then contact us here at AnD Cable. We’d love to start a conversation about how we can help you.

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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7 Considerations When Choosing Fiber Optic Cable

7-Considerations-When-Choosing-Fiber-Optic-Cable-Feature-Image

Fiber optic cable has become the go-to choice for a variety of applications by data center managers. The reasons are many, including advances in cable technology that make it an even better choice. But there are several things to consider when choosing fiber optic cable to ensure it’s the right fit for the application. Here are seven of the most important ones.

Jump to Section:

  1. Distance
  2. Interference
  3. Bandwidth
  4. Security
  5. Cable Size
  6. Cost
  7. Durability
Choosing Fiber Optic Cable - Discover 7 Considerations - Cable Management Blog
Choosing Fiber Optic Cable – Discover 7 Considerations

Distance

One of the big advantages of fiber optic cable is the loss factor: fiber only loses 3% of data over 100 meters compared to much greater losses with copper cables like CAT6 cables. While copper may be a great choice for short distances, the longer the cable needs to be, the bigger advantage to choosing fiber optic cable.

So the first factor to consider when choosing fiber optic cable is the distance the data must travel.

Interference

Fiber is fully resistant to interference from various sources like power lines, lightning storms, and even deliberate scrambling and disruption. So while the first consideration is how far the data must travel, the second consideration is where the data may travel. In data centers, whether cables are managed by running overhead or the less common instance of running through underfloor spaces, there can be sources of interference in or near that path.

This is also true in edge data centers, where everything is more compact and closer together. This is also true in modular data centers, and the right fiber cable can ensure that you can scale quickly and easily as needed. As we move toward collocation and hyper scaling, this becomes even more important.

Bandwidth

Data centers must be prepared for the future, and the bandwidth your cables can handle is a big part of that. For instance, the rise in the use of OM5 cables over OM3/4 especially in new builds is an indication that data centers are preparing for increased 5G and traffic from VR and AR applications.

This is essential to prepare for the coming 400G demands, especially in Edge data centers. As “work from home” or “work from anywhere” becomes the norm, even smaller residential data centers will be inundated with new traffic, as we saw through the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems that more companies are shifting to hybrid workforces, moving their corporate headquarters out of city center areas that are more expensive to rent, and even enabling partially or fully remote workforces.

Combine that with increases in “shopping from home” and multiple streaming devices, and speed and bandwidth are more important than ever.

Security

Of course, security is one of the top concerns for any data center. A single breach can put an entire company out of business, and result in serious issues if the data of thousands of customers is compromised. While most security issues are found in software and in the human factor (like compromised passwords) there is still a certain amount of risk in physical hardware.

However, fiber cables are difficult to compromise without the intrusion being detected, which means at the very least, using fiber cables, especially in areas where they could be potentially compromised physically, is a vital part of an overall data center security plan. Choosing the right cable in the right place can make the difference between protecting your data center’s security and digital assets, and a potentially costly data breach.

Cable Size

Over time, thinner fiber cables that carry as much data as their larger counterparts have been developed, making it practical to use fiber nearly anywhere. These thinner cables can also be bent and routed easily, saving space in your cable management systems.

Thinner cables also contribute to higher airflow and more efficient cooling, another potential area of cost savings. Fiber cables can also be bundled, organized, and labeled easily, preventing the spaghetti mess that often accumulates at the rear of server racks. Of course, this can also be prevented by having a better cable management plan in place.

In short, consider the size of cable you are using in any given area, and weigh that with other factors like distance, interference, and bandwidth.

Cost

Above, we mentioned OM5 being the future of fiber cables, but their wide adoption will come as they are produced in various lengths and sizes on a larger scale. This is because at the moment, they are produced to custom specifications. However, as OM3/4 are still viable and compatible with OM5, you can update your data center in incremental stages, and still utilize the less expensive OM3/4 cables as needed.

You’ll want to weigh cost against performance. Yes, OM5 is the best way to prepare for the future, but that can be done in cost-effective stages as your data center changes and grows. Replacing cables when you are doing moves and changes, or a new build will save you money in the long run.

Durability

Choosing fiber optic cable is easy when it comes to durability, as it’s an extremely durable cable for the most part. It is important that you evaluate where and how the cable is being used when choosing the proper cable. Where bends happen, and in an area where there may be more moves and changes than normal, you will want the most durable cable for that application.

Fiber comes in different diameters and insulation levels, and so you should be sure to choose the right one for that particular application. Evaluate several ways you can improve cable use to increase efficiency and scalability.

When choosing fiber optic cable that’s the best fit in any given application, be sure to take all of these factors into consideration. Need more information? You can check out some of the great information on our blog and in our various white papers, but if you still have questions, reach out to us. We’d love to start a conversation about how we can meet your data center cabling needs at any scale.

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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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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.

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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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Proper Power Cable Usage Prevents Poor Performance

Feature - Proper Power Cable Usage Prevents Poor Performance - AnD Cable Management Blog

Data centers are moving away from under floor cooling and cabling, and in many cases to overhead cables and more advanced cooling systems. At the same time, what may seem the simplest of things, power cables, are evolving and changing as well. The reasons are quite simple. New angles, new cable types, and even new connection types are designed to ensure maximum uptime, no cable failures and the prevention of disastrous accidental disconnects or power loss.

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So what do these cables look like, and how can proper power cable usage prevent poor data center performance? Here are seven things to consider.

Cable Length Matters

In the case of power cables, the shorter the cable the better. No matter how good the power cord is, what gauge it is, or how it is insulated, aggregate power loss occurs over the length of the cord. The longer the cord, the greater the loss. In a large data center this can add up to thousands of dollars of wasted power annually.

Not only does this harm the data center’s overall power usage efficiency (PUE) but it is also harmful to the environment, increasing carbon emissions or even just diminishing efficiency in centers that rely on renewable energy sources.

Use the shortest cable you can for the application, but one that is long enough to prevent any breaks or damage caused by odd connection angles or cable stress.

Choose Your Gauge

While shorter cables are better, larger gauge cables are better than their smaller counterparts, and for good reason. First, they carry power more efficiently. Even if smaller cables might meet your needs now, moves and changes or new equipment can increase the demand on power cables.

In that case, a larger gauge cable can future proof your data center, eliminating the need to change cables later on. Larger gauge cables also run cooler, so there is no additional burden on your HVAC systems or cooling plans.

Color Coding

We often talk about color coding data center cords, but color coding and labeling power cords is just as essential for avoiding the “spaghetti mess” server we have all encountered. But there’s more. Color coding helps you trace power from equipment to source, prevents duplicate power paths, and helps prevent accidental disconnects during moves or changes.

Choosing to color code power cords now will save you a lot of time and effort later on.

Use Shielded Power Cords

Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) can be a nightmare in data centers. Unshielded data cables used in the same area as unshielded power cords can have a serious impact on data transmission and can result in data loss. Shielded power cords can reduce or even eliminate those odd “data drops” that are hard to find and isolate.

As with other power cable properties, a little foresight here can go a long way to preventing problems down the road.

Grab a Jacket

Power cables are required to be jacketed, and the type of jacket is often dictated by local regulations and building codes. There are different materials you can and often must use based on where the cord is located, how it is used, and the restriction of the use of certain materials in various areas.

The key is to know the rules where you are, work with a vendor who can get the right cables for you consistently, and pay attention if regulations were to change.

Work the Angles

The right length of cable is important, but so is the placement of equipment in relation to those cables. The wrong angle, too tight of turns, and other issues can cause cable breakage, disconnection and more. If necessary, use angled connectors and plugs.

Keep power cords tidy, angles to a minimum, and avoid crimping, bending, and tangling them with data cables.

Lock it Up

Locking connections ensure that your cables stay where they are supposed to, and stay connected. There are several different types of locks, and each serves its own purpose. Be sure any connections you have, male, female, or otherwise, are appropriately locked in place with a tight and secure connection.

This prevents accidental disconnects, power loss through slight separation or loose connection, and other common power problems.

Are you planning your data center? Making moves and changes? Or are you looking for new, long term power cord solutions? Contact us here at AnD Cable. We have the cables you need to future proof your data center and ensure maximum uptime.

Shop Our Power Cable Range


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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Data Center Cabling Above and Below – Raised vs Concrete Floors

Feature - Data Center Cabling Above and Below - Raised vs Concrete Floors - Cable Management Blog

It used to be that data centers were simply built with raised flooring. This was for several reasons: to allow for airflow, power and other cable routing, and flexibility during moves and changes. However, for most modern data centers, concrete floors, or slabs, have become a more common choice, with cables and even cooling running above rather than below.

But what is best for data centers, and is there still room for raised flooring in new and more modern data centers?

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Feature – Data Center Cabling Above and Below – Raised vs Concrete Floors – Cable Management Blog

The Reasons for Concrete Flooring

First, let’s look at why some data centers might choose concrete floors or a slab rather than a raised floor during construction, including power density, cooling, and more.

First, today’s high power density data centers need a lot of cooling, and a raised floor may not be up to the task. New fresh air systems and “hot aisle” containment systems do a better job than air routing under the floor.

Second, data centers are getting larger and denser at the same time. Components are actually getting larger, and cables are getting thicker. As the need for storage capacity rises, so does the demand on a particular data center. These larger data centers need more sophisticated cooling, not to mention the ability to hold more weight than a raised floor.

Contrariwise, even smaller data centers often lack the space to add ramps on raised floors, making their application impractical. In compact spaces, it’s difficult to achieve the proper power density with a raised floor.

These are all good arguments for concrete floors in data centers, but does that mean raised floors don’t really have a place? Not really.

Reasons Data Centers Might Want Raised Floors

Raised floors still have some uses in various spaces, including two primary scenarios.

  • Low Power Density might mean a lot of moves and changes, and especially in some caged hosting spaces, a raised floor is often still the best choice.
  • If water is needed to cool the IT space. In the case of some modern cooling systems, water is needed as part of the process, so raised floors provide a place to transport that water safety, without compromising electronic equipment.

However, these are just a couple of potential scenarios. Let’s look next at raised and concrete floors in a side by side comparison.

The Debate About Raised Floors vs. Concrete Floors

Here are some things to consider:

  • Irregular layouts – Once quite common, these led to the need for space under the floor for cooling and the need for flexibility for moves and changes. As equipment is modernized and standardized in both size and configuration, layouts are more predictable.
  • Cable length and brackets – Cables once had to be much shorter to protect against signal degradation. As fiber optics and high bandwidth Ethernet cables are used, it is no longer critical that cables be short, and the need for a lot of brackets to hold them and route them under the floor is no longer prevalent.
  • Power cables – Power cables once came from the bottom up, and it was necessary to have a raised floor for access. Now, racks and cabinets allow power connections from above, meaning the underfloor space is no longer needed. However, for older systems still in use, a raised floor is still a necessity.
  • Equipment grounding – Copper mesh used to be used to achieve a strong ground between devices. Newer cabling options mean this is no longer a concern. Their grounding wires ensure the integrity of each circuit.

In short, the more technology advances, the less raised floors are needed. But not every data center moves forward and updates at the same pace, and raised floors still remain useful in many cases.

Dust and Static Electricity

There is a final concern when it comes to concrete floors. While most modern devices have anti-static protection, there are some that are still vulnerable, even at low voltages such as a static discharge from a technician.

Solid floors are often constructed with grounded statics that may also use either anti-static panels or floor coatings to prevent the buildup in the first place. For raised floors, anti-static panels have been in use for a long time.

Of course, many will argue that the gaps between floor panels or even grout between panels applied to hard floors is a dust magnet, and dust is a killer in any data center. However, concrete floors can be coated with anti-static material that is seamless, allowing for easy cleanup and the prevention of dust buildup.

But what is right for your data center? Only you can look at all the options and determine what will work best with your overall cooling plan, moves, changes, and updates.

Shop Our Network Cable Range


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/