Telecoms racks needn’t be orderly

We’ve started a forum on Teletips Network called Cable Conundrums for sharing pictures of telecoms racks. Our first post doesn’t actually look too bad; though the camera was uncharacteristically kind. In person the racks seem far messier. The pictures show these racks from the front. From behind the cabling looks far worse. Dangerously so. There have been several times when someone working in the rack accidentally bumped a cable and caused a hiccup to one of the applications running in that rack.

This has caused some discussion with my colleagues about what is the appropriate level of effort to expend dressing cables and in general attending to the cosmetic aspects of rack ownership. Given the relative rarity of such service affecting event, we generally agree that the time we saved by doing so little of this was probably worthwhile. To have spent more time neatening things as we installed them would’ve slowed us at a critical time and, in fact, has not seemed to have hurt us since. Maybe it is simply too soon to tell.

Something we have not agreed on is whether Ethernet switches should face the front or back of the rack. In the pictures they can be seen facing the front. But this has contributed to the cabling mess: cables exit the switch from the front of the rack and all of them must curl around to the server NICs at the back. If the Ethernet switch faced the rear of the rack then shorter CAT5 cables could’ve been used. This would’ve cluttered the rack interior less, and would’ve allowed for more direct cabling runs. We’ll try this with the next rack we install.