Not your problem?

Nov. 1, 2016
Here's a deep cabling thought for November 2016, U.S. election year: The technician who sent in the disturbing glimpse of rack disarray that appears on this page noted that it’s "cabling in our DC-not my work, BTW."

Here’s a deep cabling thought for November 2016, U.S. election year: The technician who sent in the disturbing glimpse of rack disarray that appears on this page noted that it’s “cabling in our DC-not my work, BTW.”

Fair enough, but shouldn’t everyone with a stake in the organization ultimately take a share in solving the problem? With a tangle of such scale, though, it’s often controversial to determine where, or with whom, to start assigning blame. But if it’s hard to know exactly who’s responsible, there’s no mistaking what can plainly be seen: a big mess at the top, piled high like so much brightly coiffed hair. Maybe there’s a bit of wiggle room left in the structure’s as-yet-still-manicured deeper layers, where a gasp of some prior organization is apparently retained. Notwithstanding, many would characterize the central, overarching tragedy here as a kind of ongoing accumulation of false moves. Some were accidents, some were deliberate measures that were mistakes only in hindsight. All led to this deplorable culmination. Further, with so much top-of-rack action trending so clearly toward disorganization, the overall situation unfortunately seems to bespeak some larger systemic impairment, one that reaches upward as far as it trickles down-and which, unless straightened out, can only lead to even more depressing outcomes, ranged only by degree and in who gets affected worst, and first.

Still, wouldn’t we all like to believe that, with just a bit of time and few best practices applied, this big, brightly colored mess is still completely fixable? Of course it is. But then don’t color us so confused, i.e. how about creating a color-coded cabling plan at the outset and sticking to it? Hint: They don’t make cables in so many different colors just for show. Also, how about adopting a policy of “measure twice, cut once” as regards cabling-or maybe just measure in the first place? From the looks of this swirling topside bouffant construction, you’d think the installers wanted to save enough cable to run down to the local polling place and back, probably as a way to hedge bets on connectivity. Meanwhile, more conscientious cable cutting would prevent tangles, tailor for better airflow management and, most importantly, make it easier to locate specific cables quickly during, God forbid, a panic situation. Ah, “the panic situation.” Of course, it’s what any organization dreads most. That’s why it’s important to “be cool.” This big mess of cabling is not cool. While most consider the heat of their rack servers to be a big deal, and consistently monitor for such, any concern for cables becoming too hot and for resulting erosions in system safety and performance has evidently here been trounced. Cable management is just something they saw on a website ... or maybe it was in a dream.

But cleaning up this big mess needn’t be just a fantasy. It certainly shouldn’t be; the marketplace abounds with remediating products and systems, as well as outside consortia, both public and private, that want only to help. From horizontal and vertical cable managers, to ladder racks, cable trays, and temperature sensors, to the numerous industry associations devoted to the propagation of standards and best practices for most-effective deployment of communication infrastructure systems-there really is a broad selection of positive options available for those invested in ensuring their organizations’ ultimate health and long-term security.

Defining the best options and effectively employing them would seem to be the trick. Or is that a poor choice of words? What if, as seems to be the case here, not all of the organization’s stakeholders are empowered to fix-or even to begin thinking about fixing-its greatest dysfunctions? What if no solid consensus is readily achievable on what the organization’s worst underlying problems even are, and what needs to be done about them? Maybe the choice really is as stark as one of Order vs. Chaos.

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