Your Customers are Judging Your Cable Management. Here is How to Make it Look Good

In the MSP world, proper cable management is often overlooked but is crucial to your success. Your clients judge you on how pretty the cables look, and your peers scorn you when they have to work behind your poorly design cables. In this guide, we are going to go over How to Organize  Your Network Cabling

Here are few tips to Ease your Organization of Network Cabling:

Measurement of Cable: Like your dad always said: Measure Twice & Cut Once. Take your time when installing the cables and still leave a little slack.  You never know when you may need a few inches to jump a patch panel you didn’t expect or turn the wire around the box. Slack is your best friend.

Labeling: Label everything. It may seem apparent to you why you ran the cable the way you did, but six months from now when the next guy shows up, it won’t be. Keep a coordinated color-coding system and document. I like to make Network Map in Vizio Coupled with an Excel Sheet and leave it in the data room where the patch panel is. It doesn’t have to be a Picasso painting, but I promise the next guy will be thanking your thoroughness.  

Terminations: Don’t go cheap on your termination hardware.  I know, Amazon sells a 50 pack for half the cost as your local reseller. The problem is that there is no quality control. Some of the connectors work pretty well and some of them don’t. Do you want to risk shutting down one of your client’s companies because you tried to save a quarter?

Practice terminating the cables so that in long runs you can save both of your precious time and money effectively. If not followed the process at the time of installation then might be required to troubleshoot all those terminations of cables that are having lose connections.

Use a Good Cable Tester: Make a habit of testing every cable you terminate. Crossing wires in a patch panel, especially when they have POE enabled, can cause the system to fail or have a short.  Not to mention you’ll be pulling out your hair trying to figure out why one client can’t ping when you’re working remotely just to find out the pairs were switched in the wire.

Patch Cables:  Patch Cables are the wires that connect two different appliances to each other on the same server rack. They typically are only 6” long. I usually buy them pre-terminated in bulk. They only cost about ab

Use Color code: I often color code the wires based on what they are doing.

Use Case Color
Desktop Computer Blue/white
Telephony & VOIP Red
Network Equipment (Switches & Routers) Yellow
Standalone Appliances (Printers, FAX) Purple
Network Management Cables Green

Buying Conduit: It is always smart to oversize your conduit by a factor of two. Never try to stuff too many wires in the same pipe. It can cause interference and make it difficult to troubleshoot. It also keeps you from being able to upgrade in the future.

Conduit Size
(EMT)
Total # of Ethernet Cables
(CAT5e type)
½” 3
¾” 6
1” 9
1 ½” 21
2 35

Design your Network in a cable-friendly way: Don’t run your ethernet cable under the carpet. It’s not smart, and it will fail given enough time. Don’t run your cable on roofs without installing it in conduit first and try to keep it away from direct exposure to sunlight. Use Ethernet cables rated for the application you are going to be installing it in. For example, if the cable is installed outdoors, buy cable that is rated for OUTDOOR use. If you are running the ethernet cable in a ventilated attic you are required to use PLENUM rated cable.

Keep Distance Between Power lines and Cat5: Stay away from overhead power lines. Keep at least 6 feet distance.

Conclusion:

Cabling is an often overlooked part of the networking process. It’s not flashy or glamorous like setting up a VPN or managed switch. But it is critical in the networking process. Do not overlook industry best practices here. You want your cables to be hidden and out of plain sight. The way I see it, if your client doesn’t know that your cabling exists than you did the job right.

 The other suitable option to reduce any uncertain disaster is coloring the cable which helps you in future to check for the problem and manage the layout of wires in data center in a cable friendly way.