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Best solution for wiring two patch panels together in a short distance run?

Posted on 2009-03-30
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Last Modified: 2013-11-09
We have a server cabinet which requires approximatly 16 CAT5e connections to our swith. Our switch is in an open rack about 5 feet away from the server cabinet. Right now we have 16 CAT5e patch cables going directly from the servers to the switch, which obviously is not the best configuration.

I was thinking a good solution would be to put a patch panel in the cabinet, and a patch panel on the open rack with the switch, that way these patch panels could be wired together to create a permanent connection that will never need to be touched again. This would still result in having to run 16 CAT5e cables from point A to point B.

I see on black box they have 25-pair CAT5e's such as this: http://www.blackbox.com/Store/Detail.aspx/CAT5e-25-Pair-100-MHz-Solid-Bulk-Cables-UTP-Custom-Lengths/EVNSL16A

I believe these are usually used for phone systems. With all of the cables running from the same point A to the same point B, it would be nice to be able to use one larger "backbone" cable.

What would be the best solution for this? Are there patch panels, solutions that utilize a cable like this: http://www.blackbox.com/Store/Detail.aspx/CAT5e-25-Pair-Telco-Connector-Cable-with-Straight-Hoods-50-ft-15-2-m/ELN29T-0050-MM

...so that we wouldn't actually have to terminate all of the wires on each end?
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Question by:bradl3y
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 150 total points
ID: 24023212
I would be inclined to put a high quality switch (HP Pro Curve or equivalent - 16 or 24 port) right in the rack. HP Pro Curve have autosensing ports. Then you have but one single wire from the server rack to the network outside. And if the local switchgear uses 1Gb/sec switches, you won't see any speed issues. Use commercial pre-formed cables inside the rack (short ones). Just another idea. ... Thinkpads_User
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TreyH earned 200 total points
ID: 24025450
We've used the 25 and 50 pair cat5e cables to do just what you are talking about, however now we simply use regular Cat6 4pair UTP to cross connect patch panels. The 'switch in the rack' is certainly an option but most our racks contain 8 to 10 servers so ports would go unused and the cascade back to the core switch would quickly get saturated. We have 4 racks that contain the patch panels and plant wiring and then we cross connect 24 port patch panels out to the server racks.  An advantage to that is you only have to light up the number of ports that are needed and you can aggregate port density in one spot (saving port usage). Disadvantage of course is all the wires and additional points of failure.
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Expert Comment

by:lrmoore
ID: 24067168
While a 25-pair bulk cable may sound like a good idea, it is not. Since Gigabit Ethernet uses all 8 wires on a jack, that 25-pair cable is only good for 3 connections. So, for 16 servers you would have to run at least 6 of those big fat cables. I would rather just use good CAT6 patch panels and run a bundle of 16-20 cables to another patch panel. This bundle can be done very neatly with zip ties and velcro straps to be very professional looking. I like the idea of patch panels at each server rack corresponding to another patch panel at the swith. Cable management is much easier.
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Assisted Solution

by:holidayinnexpress
holidayinnexpress earned 150 total points
ID: 24093277
I would agree with thinkpads, put a switch in the top of the rack.  If that is not an option, install cable tray and run the patch cables.  Don't introduce additional points of failure to the network when it isn't necessary.
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 24093502
If you wish to do a switch arrangement, use a high quality gigabit smart switch (HP ProCurve for example) and you should not see any speed degradation. Such a switch is not real expensive and can be used elsewhere, so if you try it and don't like it, then nothing really lost.
... Thinkpads_User
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Author Closing Comment

by:bradl3y
ID: 31564536
Thanks, these ideas were very helpful. I have had not had too much experience with actual infrastructure, so i didn't know about cable trays and such to help neatly run the wires. I agree with not adding additional points of failure when we already have enough switched ports nearby, and will probably be going the patch panel route with a cable tray and separate wires.
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by:bradl3y
ID: 24151448
Thanks for the ideas.

@lrmoore : Please correct me if i am wrong, but 25 pair bulk cable would support 6 connections, not 3. Gigabit takes 8 wires (4 pairs), 25/4, not 25/8. Your post was helpful in assuring me that a patch panel to patch panel solution is the way to go, however i did not want to have any misinformation in a accepted/assisted solution in case anybody else in this situation has a look at this thread.
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