Cable labeling in the data center made easy: On the intelligent management of cables

DCIM can provide a comprehensive solution beyond cable labeling and administration in the data center.

Nov 1st, 2016
Through proper cable labeling, administration, and with the help of DCIM, network administrators can avoid a spaghetti effect like this one.
Through proper cable labeling, administration, and with the help of DCIM, network administrators can avoid a spaghetti effect like this one.

By Oliver Lindner

Managing cables in the workspace can prove a complex and difficult task, but by using static cable IDs and implementing a smart DCIM solution, the process simplifies and contributes to a more-efficient working environment.

Ensuring that your data center operates at optimal efficiency should be a primary concern at all times. One of the greatest difficulties is managing the cabling networks that connect your business-critical systems. Failing to properly label individual cables could be costly to your operation by contributing to business interruptions and unnecessary downtime. Having to shift attention to addressing network issues will take time away from focusing on other strategic IT initiatives.

However, intelligently managing cable networks is not always an easy task. There are quite a few common challenges that may interfere with your ability to do so. For example, your data center could fall victim to “the spaghetti effect” where your cable rack looks like a bowl of pasta without the sauce. Everything is cluttered, tangled together and not flowing the way it should be. Separating and properly labeling your cables will eliminate the unruly mess and provide organization.

Perhaps power outages in your data center are to blame? According to a report from Uptime Institute, human error in cabling management is responsible for this 88 percent of the time. Without intelligent labeling, recovering from the power outage becomes a time-consuming and difficult task. Wasting too much time trying to identify cables is counterproductive to business operations.

In an attempt to provide an answer or solution to this issue, many industry professionals will argue that ANSI/TIA-606 is already the best practice for labeling. However, that’s really only the case when we’re talking about fixing cabling. Implementing a standardized and transparent systems for intelligent labeling will always prove the best option. In this case, selecting the right DCIM software will equip administrators with the tools needed to shorten error recovery time and standardize the labeling of a cable network.

This raises an important question: How can a DCIM—data center infrastructure management—tool improve IT service and support, especially related to cabling? The combination of organizing and labeling cables and documenting the in a centralized DCIM system allows data center operators and IT staff to quickly pinpoint issues and be more proactive when it comes to maintenance, rollouts, migrations and change management.

To overcome unnecessary complexity in the workplace, efficiency needs to be increased through planning, organization and management. Here, a DCIM system such as FNT Command can provide a comprehensive solution to assist in accomplishing this. With FNT Command, users can reap the benefits of end-to-end signal tracing, a completely customized interface to a label printer, and a mobile app that allows a DCIM administrator to access the signal path directly in the data center by just scanning a barcode or searching for a static ID.

More robust DCIM platforms support predefined interfaces to the leading automated infrastructure management (AIM) solutions, enabling automatic documentation that significantly improves data accuracy. Additionally, AIM systems offer another level of intelligence, creating alerts when connections are loose or lost. Integration with AIM also allows users to pinpoint which cables are related to an outage, improving resolution time.

Through DCIM systems, the cabling management process is more simplified, standardized, and transparent. They also provide the capability to align network resources and IT assets with strategic applications, to ensure uptime and minimize disruptions.

Currently, the popular choice for cabling network solutions are AIM systems. While these may resolve operational inefficiencies in some places, manufacturers pre-labeling cables remains an issue. Here, a DCIM tool can help in allowing the user to digitally name and manage the cable per their specific requirements and needs.

Consider managing your cabling deployments as intelligently as you manage the rest of your business. Create solutions that cut down on time spent addressing operational hindrances and instead standardize a network that can be managed quickly and easily. This will allow DCIM administrators to focus on important tasks at hand with minimized distractions. Reducing costs, improving workflow, and increasing transparency throughout your data center—that’s intelligent cable management made easy.

Oliver Lindner serves as senior consultant for server management for FNT Software. With more than 20 years of industry experience as a system analyst, he oversees FNT’s business line Data Center Infrastructure Management.

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