Patch panels consideration

Tiras25
Tiras25 used Ask the Experts™
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Building a server room for 75 to 100 users office.
Gen. Contractor designing the room with wall-mount patch panels.  I never seen/worked with these before.  Normally just on the rack so you can have access both sides.  
Any suggestions/input?  Thanks.
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Commented:
The only real difference between wall-mount and rack-mount is the mount location. You could also potentially have less clearance to work on the backside of the panel. Other than that the two will be identical in function.

Author

Commented:
Got it.  Do I ever need to work on the backside of the panel if its wall-mounted?

Commented:
Only if you needed to replace a cable or repair a connection.

Edit: To add an addendum to that, it will also depend on the type of panel they use. Some of them have ample clearance for work, some are more low profile. It's unlikely you'll ever need to effect changes on the backside, but there's always the possibility.
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General Manager
Commented:
The GC is designing this way because it works best for the GC. If you are the IT who has to live with the final product, put your two cents into the construction project. The GC does not have to schlep the cables and jumper from the wall to the cabinets and keep them organized.

I agree with Williams statement as there is no functional difference but space management and appearances will be better if the panels terminate inside the cabinet, not to mention security from meddling.

Author

Commented:
Thank you Millers!  I also prefer in-rack/cabinet design.  Never seen wall-mount unless its a hotel or household closet space.
I agree and I'm the IT that will be managing it.  I think its better to terminate inside the rack rather than a wall-mount.
Steve McCarthy, MCSE, MCSA, MCP x8, Network+, i-Net+, A+, CIWA, CCNA, FDLE FCIC, HIPAA Security OfficerIT Consultant, Network Engineer, Windows Network Administrator, VMware Administrator
Commented:
Be careful with in the Rack mounts like this.  It takes up rack space and if you expand too much, you may run out of room.  I have worked in dozens of data centers and seen both in use and they both offer pro's and cons.  

You refer to rack. Now are you referring to a stand alone rack that will just be used for cables or a rack in or out of a server cabinet that will also have servers, switches or devices mounted?  It can make a difference where the equipment is physically in relation to the rack mount.

If it is your server room, then I would really insist on having a say where the racks are located, number of patch panels, cabling, etc.  Always, always allow for room behind the rack.  There will be a day when you need to troubleshoot or more likely, you will need to add additional ports and you want that easy to access.

Author

Commented:
Thanks Steve!  So you would do with rack-mounted patch panels vs.  wall-mounted right?  You would be racket have access both sides of the panels.
If you were to give us the make and model of the sort of panel you are describing, it would be helpful.  I've seen some that have a wall-mount bracket and the panel can be unclipped from it.  It's not as convenient as having a rack, but you can still get to the back without unbolting it from the wall.

I'd also look carefully at the small racks that are wall-mounted and the patch panels are standard rack mount.  There isn't much clearance in the back, but the rack is such that it hinges on one side.  If you route your cables appropriately, it's easy to swing the panel out and access the back.

I would strongly agree with Gregory Miller and Steve McCarthy's comments.  If you are going to maintain this, be insistent about the factors that will make it more serviceable in the future.
Steve McCarthy, MCSE, MCSA, MCP x8, Network+, i-Net+, A+, CIWA, CCNA, FDLE FCIC, HIPAA Security OfficerIT Consultant, Network Engineer, Windows Network Administrator, VMware Administrator
Commented:
So for example, if I were setting up a new server room that would have servers and network devices, I might setup a simple rack that puts all the patch panels at the top, ensuring that I had extra unused ports.  In just about every case, there will be expansion later on.  If you need 100 now, get patch panels that will support 148 or 196 or something like that. Many businesses wind up adding ports or want their Voip on separate jacks, etc.

My next section might be another set of patch panels that tie to the server racks.  Then those corresponding panels in the server racks connect to the servers.

Then, lower down in the rack I put all my networking equipment.  So networking equipment that connects to each other is all right there.  

If your office is 75 to 100 people, then I would wire and have patch panel ports for triple that amount.  I would always run at least 2 cables from every location, 3 if the budget allows.

We take those ports from the office and connect them to the switch. We take the port from the server racks and also connect them to the switch.

Nice and clean.

IF I had IP Phones, in a perfect world, I would run all of them to patch panels and then patch panels to the switches. It makes moving things much easer sometimes.
Gregory MillerGeneral Manager
Commented:
One additional thought is that patch panels are not meant to be a point of change. Once installed, the cables are terminated and the patch port should be the only thing that needs to see any changes, not the termination block. With this in mind, we all have to add new cables to an additional patch panel from time to time but doing so puts stress on the existing stable terminations thus after several such maintenance events, they sometimes become less stable. Patch panels should be installed and left alone to allow their functional terminations retain stability and integrity. Always use good panels that bite the wire and hold that bond.
While I would agree that change shouldn't be frequent on a patch panel, in reality it does happen and shouldn't be a problem.  If the cables are well secured (typically zip-tied to the back of the panel) and routed close to the hinge, when the panel is swung out it should have very minimal impact on the terminations.

Author

Commented:
I am not sure what's the exact model for that wall-mount patch-panel.  But there something like this available.   I never seen these in data centers or Telco rooms though.  Maybe hotel rooms or household closets.

wall patch panel
Note the notches on the top and bottom of the panel.  I would expect that there is a wall-mount bracket that gets bolted to the wall that has 4 fingers to snap into those notches.  The panel can be removed for maintenance, if needed, but it will be more disruptive of the existing cables than a simple hinged rack.

It's difficult to tell from the picture if the fingers that hold the labels in place have loops.  If they do, proper installation will include securely attaching the cables to those loops.  If done well, when the panel is popped out, no strain is put on the punch-down connections.  If the cables aren't well secured, every time you remove the panel you run the risk of damaging some of the many connections.

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