Server Rack Cable Management – Benefits and Best Practices

A tangled mess of cables in your server racks is every data center tech’s worst nightmare. Imagine trying to fix a server error or diagnose a problem quickly, but you can’t without digging through an overgrown jungle of cables.

Effective server rack cable management is more than just aesthetically pleasing. It can:

  • Support current data center initiatives around airflow and cooling efficiency
  • Save time and money troubleshooting
  • Improve equipment performance and safety
  • Make life easier for your maintenance team

Read on for benefits and actionable best practices for server rack cable management.

Benefits of Investing in Server Rack Cable Management

Is implementing a cable management strategy on your data center’s to-do list? Effective cable management supports many of your current initiatives around airflow, cooling and improving maintenance efficiency. Here are some reasons you may want to move it to the top of the list.

Save money and resources when troubleshooting. Every data center looks for cost savings opportunities. Effectively managing cables within your server racks requires some investment in time and money but will pay off in the long run. A great example is maintenance. The time your technicians spend digging through, around and under tangled cables to diagnose and fix problems could be spent elsewhere, such as security improvements.

Why You Need Proper Cable Management
[Think of the time it would take your maintenance team to get through the cables in the picture above]

Improve equipment performance and safety. Improper cable management can lead to data center headaches and safety issues. A bundle of cables can obstruct airflow within your server rack, making your system work harder to cool equipment. When your system works harder, the temperature in your rack increases and can lead to increased cooling costs and system failures.

Incorrectly placed cables can also rub against sharp edges or tight corners on your server rack, which could eventually lead to cables bending and breaking. Lastly, when cables get piled up, they can hold and hide dust particles, leading to potential fire hazards.

Make maintenance easier for your team. Investing in cable management for your server racks will pay off from a cost perspective and help your team members keep your data center online Logitrain shared that “tangled and [unorganized] cabling leads to stress at work and takes a significant amount of time to make sense of it all. It leads to decreased efficiency at work, and simple tasks may take much longer than they really should [...] Helping your team work more efficiently will pay off in morale and metrics.”

These benefits show why investing in server rack cable management will return in more ways than one. Now that we’ve reviewed the “why,” we’ll share the “how” to manage cables.

Best Practices for Server Rack Cable Management

Server rack cable management has always been a concern for data centers, and with new products and techniques on the market, it can be challenging to know where to start. Here is a quick overview of modern cable management best practices.

Maintain proper bend radiuses for cables. When cables are arranged with sharp angles or tangled together, it can cause stress on the wire inside, leading to breakage. One way to avoid this is to utilize a flexible product that allows for proper entry and exit points for the cables. If your server racks do not already have cable managers, adding accessories, like DAMAC’s server rack accessories, can help route your cables and improve airflow. Maintaining proper bend radiuses is important to aspects of data center cable management. DAMAC Cable Management Cover
[DAMAC cable cover]

Reduce sharp edges. The friction of cables rubbing on sharp edges can wear down the casing and cause damage. Ensure there aren’t sharp edges on equipment or server racks that could puncture or break wires. Route cables away from edges or use protective accessories like brushed grommet cable seals to reduce friction.

Organize cables to increase airflow efficiency. Heavy cables can block airflow. Proper planning is vital to ensure cables route away from equipment intake and exhaust vents. Since too much cabling can obstruct airflow, plan on having cable that is as close to the necessary length. You could also consider running cables through hot aisles to avoid hotspots, which can reduce cooling costs.

Color code your cables. This best practice ties into improving the ease and efficiency of troubleshooting mentioned in the benefits above. When cables are color-coded, it is easy for a technician to identify and trace cables quickly. When coupled with cable labeling, you create a standardized system for easy cable identification.

Invest in the necessary accessories/products. Vertical cable managers and horizontal cable managers are two effective ways to manage your cabling infrastructure. Vertical cable managers provide structured vertical cable management. They promote a clean and vertically organized cable system for patch cords and general cabling while maintaining bend radii. Horizontal cable managers organize your horizontal runs. They protect your vital cables, while efficiently organizing cables within your server racks. Other accessories for rack cable management include cable management trays, cable management panels, d-ring, Velcro straps and cable finger managers.

Summing it Up

Effective server rack cable management improves efficiency, performance, serviceability and scalability. Best practices for cleaning up cable messes include:

  • Maintaining proper bend radiuses
  • Getting rid of sharp edges/reducing cable contact with sharp edges
  • Organizing the cables to improve airflow and serviceability
  • Color-coding and labeling cables
  • Investing in cable management accessories

Improving cable management from a rack level will benefit your server rack and equipment performance and impact your overall data center performance. Unsure of where to start? DAMAC’s products include server racks and cable management accessories. Contact our team to learn more about cost effective ways to manage your server rack cabling.

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