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Good network cable management to avoid damage

Ripping out floors and walls can endanger data center cabling. But with a little network cable management effort, renovations can improve the network.

Budgets and deadlines are in danger when it comes to data center improvements, but so are the network cables and other equipment.

Renovations create myriad challenges, especially if the data center remains operational during the retrofits. But they're necessary to deploy important new technologies in data centers and are good opportunities to ensure that fundamentals are sound.

How do you prevent network cable damage during data center retrofits and upgrades, and even during normal operations?

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There is no substitute for simple awareness. Data center contractors must have a clear understanding of cabling -- network, power and other infrastructure cabling -- layouts before starting any kind of retrofit or facility upgrade. Provide contractors with clear and accurate cable documentation, take them on a thorough walkthrough and review the existing cabling layouts before work begins.

For basic network cable management, ensure that cabling is off the floor so it cannot be stepped on; away from any pipes such as those for chilled water, clear of major electromagnetic sources like chiller compressors; and away from heat sources that might trigger a fire. Local building and electrical codes will provide additional guidelines for routing and interconnecting cabling.

If retrofit or upgrade plans will jeopardize cabling (e.g., cables traverse a wall that is coming down), reroute the cabling out of harm's way first. This is often a small project, but consider running new cabling to support faster Ethernet speeds in protected conduits, marking it clearly for future reference.

Network cable management can improve thanks to a data center renovation project. For example, a data center could have cabling and piping scattered beneath raised floors. During renovations, workers can reroute network cabling into protective conduits running along the ceiling, using vertical drops into individual racks. This enhances cable protection by avoiding any water leaks under the false floor.

This was first published in January 2014
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