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Choosing the Right Power Cord – Rack Optimization Tips

Choosing the Right Power Cord - Rack Optimization Tips - AnD Cable Management Blog

There are several aspects of optimizing data centers, from making the best use of space, time, power, and personnel. But there are some surprisingly simple solutions that are often overlooked with power cords, especially when it comes to rack optimization. Here are just a few of them.

Choosing the Right Power Cord - Rack Optimization Tips - AnD Cable Management Blog

SVT vs. SJT Power Cords

One of the first needs of a data center is power, and while there are debates about DC powering data centers, for the most part, AC power is the answer, and that means that a part of rack optimization includes the routing of power cords

Related to that is the durability of these cords, their flexibility, and to an extent their cost. However, there is a certain resistance to making the switch from more common SJT cords to their younger, smaller brother, SVT power cords. 

The issue is primarily perception. SJT power cords are thicker, so they must be better, right? The answer is more complex than that. To understand, we need to look briefly at what these cords actually do:

  • Deliver power safely to components in the rack system
  • Have the flexibility to be routed through racks and between delicate components
  • Must be color coded to assist with organization and prevent mistakes during moves and changes

That sounds pretty basic, right? Power cables, and many other cables used in data centers essentially are. So why choose one over the other?

SVT Power Cord Advantages

The primary difference between SVT and SJT cords is thickness, which plays a significant role. Both are portable, can be color coded, easily withstand the heat of the data center environment, and are capable of carrying the exact same loads. 

SJT cords have been standard for a long time, and their thickness may make them seem “tougher”. But thinner SVT cords are capable of more bend angles, take up less room (facilitating airflow), and are lighter. These aid rack optimization and organization.

But of course, SVT cords also cost less per unit. Over large moves and changes or even when designing a new data center, this can make a huge difference. 

In this case, thinner (and cheaper) is better. 

Power Cords are Only Part of the Picture

Of course, when we start talking about power cords, it is important to go back to some of the basics of rack optimization. 

  • First, use 28 AWG “skinny” patch cords. They are 36% thinner than other cables, which allows you to use high-density patch panels. This simple change in cords saves you a lot of rack space, and cuts the RU needed for patch panels in half. Skinnier patch cords also allow for more airflow as well
  • Second, replace 1RU and 2RU horizontal cable managers with AnD Cable Products Zero U Cable Management Racks. They’ve been designed to not take up the valuable vertical space typical cable managers do, but instead install in the same U as the device, saving significant rack space

Once you have done these two things, you’ll often more than double the ports you can fit in a single rack. Not only will you save space and money, and prevent the spaghetti mess of wiring often found in server racks after moves and changes, but you will save additional rack footprints, allowing you to increase density without losing computing power or memory. 

WHITEPAPER – Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs FREE Guide - AnD Cable Products

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

Optimizing Other Cables

There are other steps you can take as well. Optimizing your Ethernet cables (while taking into account power, latency, and reach), looking at Direct Attach Copper (DACs) cables, Active Optical Cables (AOCs), and fiber optic cable assemblies for optimization opportunities, and keeping up with innovations like plastic polymer cables can also set you up for the most optimal use of cables and cords in your data center.

The last item highlights perhaps the most important thing you can do to optimize your data center: keeping up with evolving technology. There are always new developments, faster and lighter cords, better power solutions, and more. Consider what you can do each time to make moves or changes to increase the efficiency of your data center no matter what size it is.

The good news is, you don’t have to do this alone. At AnD Cable, we keep up with the newest and best solutions for everything you need for your data center, from racks to cable management to cords and cables. We offer remote monitoring solutions and more. 

Have questions about data center solutions? Do you want to talk about optimizing your  rack usage and cable management? Get in touch today! We can’t wait to start a conversation about how we can help you. And if you’re ready to get started, request a quote. We’ll be with you 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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Is The Future of Data Centers Hyperscale and Colocation?

Feature - Is The Future of Data Centers Hyperscale and Colocation? AnD Cable Management Blog

Whenever we talk about data centers, we talk about the fact that many businesses, even large enterprises, have moved to a cloud version of a data center, allowing someone else to manage their servers, storage, and other network elements. But colocation, born in the cloud DVR era, has started to make a comeback and is in fact, its own type of business. What’s driving this trend, and is it the future of data centers?

Jump to Section:

Future of Data Centers

What is Colocation?

Colocation is essentially where instead of installing servers in a certain area or a certain room in your business location, you rent space for your servers and equipment in an established data center owned by a third party. This space can consist of a small area, a room, or even a cage of sorts. Since the data center already has the power and cooling capacity needed to house servers, a business doesn’t need to invest in building and equipping a new space of their own.

Colocation started as a way for two companies, Comcast and Charter Communications worked with yet another company to set up a data center that could provide users of online “cloud DVR” services with the speed they needed to “re-stream” content they had recorded.

Today, colocation companies are really real estate brokers of sorts: they sell or rent space that meets a company’s specific needs. Space is located within a large (sometimes very large) data center where “tenants” share the cost for power, cooling, and maintenance.

But why the surge in popularity now and is the future of data centers?

The Cost of the Cloud

When data reaches a certain speed and volume needs, a cloud data center can sometimes be more expensive than a physical network. Businesses, as they grow, often discover this, and move at least part of their cloud computing back onto colocated servers where they own and maintain their own servers.

Another reason involves data sovereignty requirements: certain data cannot cross country or other boundaries, limiting the type and location of cloud data operations a company can use. The need for additional physical protection of data also feeds this trend.

Edge computing, the option of deploying IT assets in multiple, smaller, more geographically diverse locations, is changing the conversation around data centers. Digital assets are widely distributed between the cloud and colocation and the objectives of this type of distribution is constantly changing depending on company needs.

The Value of Space

One key here is space. Often a smaller business might only need a single rack of space: others might have greater needs. Ensuring that any rented space is used to the best advantage is key: the less space used, the lower the cost. After all, data center relocation companies are often simply real estate and property brokers, and many don’t understand exactly what their customers are trying to accomplish and what needs they might have.

But to “sell” their services effectively, they need to learn the language of computing rather than real estate. Square footage and “a killer window vies” must be replaced with terms like workload, performance, speed, and reliability. It’s important that they can share with customers how colocation in a large data center can meet their computing needs.

However, in another way, it’s important that the business understand things like an efficient use of rack space such as using Zero U cable routing systems, power allocation, proper cabling and labeling, and the physical protection the data center offers their network.

Some Benefits of Colocation

There are several benefits of colocation vs. building your own data center in your own business space.

  • Reliability – An established data center and shared computing with other businesses means your uptime is assured, and you have greater peace of mind when it comes to reliability.
  • Security and compliance – There are a variety of standards regarding physical and digital data security, and a colocated data center already meets those requirements. These concerns are more difficult to deal with when you have an on-site data center.
  • Cost of ownership – all the concerns related to data center security and reliability come with costs: those costs can quickly escalate. Colocation keeps those costs steady.
  • Scalability – Should you grow and need to scale your own data center, that could be quite costly. The potential space you have available in a colocated space makes scaling much simpler.
  • Interconnection – Being located with other businesses means you can do business together and share resources.
  • Hybrid cloud options – many colocation data centers also include cloud servers, meaning a hybrid cloud approach can be easier to adopt.

Of course, as with any data center solution, there can be some drawbacks. However, there are only a few, and most are related to cloud vs. colocation issues, including cost factors. These often come into play when a company is at a “tipping point” in growth, where they are on the verge of needing colocation, but cloud solutions are still working for them.

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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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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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/

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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/

Posted on Leave a comment

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/

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