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Do you really need cable management for a cabinet with just switches and patch panels?

Posted on 2011-02-23
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Last Modified: 2012-08-14
We are about to start wiring out a building expansion and our vendor has laid out the racks in the following configuration:

Option 1

1U Fiber patch panel
2U Cable Manager
2U 48 port Patch Panel
2U Cable Manager
2U 48 port Patch Panel
2U Cable Manager
1U 48 port Switch
2U Cable Manager
1U 48 port Switch
Total = 15U

All the patch panels would be connected to the switches with 1ft+ cables fed through cable management.

What I am considering instead is:

Option 2

1U Fiber patch panel
1U 24 port Patch Panel
1U 48 port Switch
2U 48 port Patch Panel
1U 48 port Switch
2U 48 port Patch Panel
Total = 8U

All of the patch panels would be connected to the switches with .5 ft cables directly on their face with the top 24 ports of each switch patched to the patch panel above it and the bottom 24 ports of each switch patched to the patch panel beneath it which would not require any cable management.

If I go with option 2 it save all of the space used by cable management and allows us to keep adding on switches and patch panels at the end without having to re-cable all of the patch panels above.

Our vendor has indicated that this is not best practice and that .5ft cables will introduce cross talk. I could understand that being the case if we were connecting the .5 ft cable directly into another switch but we are connecting it to a patch panel that likely has another 150 ft cable run from the back of the patch panel out to the port in the building in which case the real resulting cable is 150.5 ft at minimum before even connecting it to a PC.

It seems like it makes much more sense to go with option 2. It is easier to expand, saves space, and saves money on cabling and cable management.

Does this kind of configuration make sense or is there a legitimate reason to choose Option 1 over Option 2?
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Question by:tervis
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by:Neil Russell
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Personaly I would never consider putting a patch cabinet together with NO cable management. Also using .5ft patch cables leaves you with no room for doing anything once your patched in IF you need to move 'stuff' around.

One phrase I always try and avoid when providing an IT solution is "Saves money on....."

Just my .5 pence worth.
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by:qbakies
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I've also never installed a network without cable management.  I'm not sure I agree with the cross talk issue but, in my experience, cable management really does make things easier when you are trying to setup and trace issues.  Also I agree with Neilsr in that using 6" patch cables can be very limiting in the event that you need to start adjusting things.
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by:torvir
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You have to image this scenario.
A switch has died. How long time do you expect it takes to put in a new one, if you are standing in front of the cabinet with a replacement unit?
The answer is 5 minutes to several hours. Depending on... guess what... Cable management.
The cable management that saves most space in rack units is when all cables are going to right or left or often fifty-fifty to each direction.
It takes some space between racks instead.
You can also have each cable go straight down or straight up, but never cross the face of another switch.
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by:tervis
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@Torvir: Can you explain the additional difficulty in replacing a switch if I use Option 2 as defined above instead of Option 1?
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by:torvir
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I don't see any difficulty as long as you do what you say, and the cables don't cross other switches.
The last line in my earlier comment means that you can do what you describe in option 2 if you can live with the limitation.
Option 2 isn't very flexible at all.
If there is a possibility that somebody in the future wants to connect switchports to other places in the rack, I would go for cable management at the sides of the rack. Then you can connect a switchport to any panel or equipment in the rack.
You should do what you describe only if your installation is static.  
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by:tervis
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@Torvir: What your saying makes sense. These are distribution layer switches and patch panels where we will have all of the ports active all and they are all the same switches so there would be no reason for us to plug a patch panel port into one switch over another. If the situation arises then we can always leverage some form of vertical cable management to address that situation. I should change my question to specifically say horizontal cable management as that is really what I am describing in Option 1.
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by:torvir
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I have attached a picture of how cable management is done in datacenters nowadays. No more horizontal cable management inside the rack.
However, if you have a row of racks that stands beside each other spare a 4u space high up in the rack (not all the way at the top), and 4u lower down. This is done because cables has to cross between racks, even through another rack. And there are cable shelves with a lid on it that are 4u high. Don't take 4u for granted it depends on which manufacturer you choose.
You would probably also want a vertical cable channel between the racks in that case.
But, yes you are right. There is no need for horizontal cable management.
Image001.jpg
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by:torvir
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I forgot to say one thing about the picture. If you tie cables in bundles in this way there is no question which cable was in which switchport when you have change the switch. Just unplug, change the switch and plug in the cables. 5 minutes :-)
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by:tervis
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@Torvir, As a final thought for our situation would you recommend we go with option 1, 2 or some alternative 3rd option (like something you pictured with vertical cable management and long patch cables)?
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torvir earned 500 total points
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It's hard to do a recommendation when I don't know how static the cabeling is expected to be.
You could go for option 2 if you are pretty sure it doesn't change in a near future.
If you just make sure there is space at the sides of the rack, when the time comes you could install vertical cable management and change the cables.
But if you think that things are going to be rewired already in the first year. Go for the model shown in the picture i sent.
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Author Closing Comment

by:tervis
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Took a while to get the the responder to actually address the specifics outlined in the body of the question instead of just answering the question in the title.
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