Re-wiring a server rack that looks like spaghetti

5 pts.
Tags:
Data Center
Data Center administration
Server administration
Server management
Hi, this is my first time doing something like this. I'm currently taking the beginning of my CCNA courses and I'm still a beginner at all of this. Someone has asked me to help them re-wire their server rack, since its a huge mess. I was just wondering if there where any precautions I should take while re-wring a live server.
ASKED: March 28, 2011  4:07 PM
UPDATED: March 31, 2011  7:42 AM

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REconfiguring “Live” devices is always tricky. Seen my share of “spaghetti-bowls” as well. Best way to tackle something like that is to move or alter the unused / least used cables first – get them out of the way and tied off.

After, if you still NEED to move the cables for the Production (live) server, set-up a time when traffic / user access is at a low. Have the cable routes ready to go, then, when impact is minimal, move the cables as swiftly and as accurately as possible to get the server back on-line asap…

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  • CharlieBrowne
    Make sure management is aware of what you are doing and when. If there are any problems and they get "surprised", you and your friend could be looking for a new place of employment.
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  • Gabe9527
    Document all the ports in use way before the time of the work. This will mean that if you forget which cable goes where you can go back to your paper work. This will reduce the risk of missing a server / workstation / Phone / Fax etc. Are you going to be creating the cables yourself..... if this is the case test all cables ebfore plugging them in and leave enough room (slack) to move them if you require. The other thing is use the cable management bits in your Rack to make sure it is neat but remember that may need to trace a cable at some point to dont bind them to tight.
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  • Gabe9527
    Cable wires for normal rj45 Striped (orange), Plain (orange),, striped(Green), Plain(Blue), striped (Blue), Plain (green), striped (Brown), Plain (Brown)
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  • KFaganJr
    You've already received some great advice, and it's nice to know there are others out there that support good habits in cable management. Just a few things to add...
    • Test items before you start, you'll be amazed at how quick you get blamed when a sparsely used printer isn't working a week after you completed everything
    • Remove any unterminated cables before you start, if one end isn't connected and it's not labeled for anything specific then it's got to go
    • Look into buying/making a bunch of Cat 5e cables that are the length, this will ensure you don't have coils from long cables and allow you to route the cable then quickly swap to a new cable
    • Different color cables for Network equipment, printers, servers, security appliances can be beneficial. Monoprice.com has cables for under $2 each and they are good quality, I've been using them for years now
    • If you have redundant nics/fiber and plan to do it live, disable the ports you are going to unplug before you do, this will prevent some possible issues. Especially with Server 2000. Also verify both power supplies are working properly before unplugging redundant units as well
    • As Charlie Browne said... Let management know!
    • If there will be more than one person working on it, assign someone the lead who will make the final call if need be, it cuts down on discussion when the time is high priority
    • Plan out the task before you start, know what cables will be moved, what will be replaced, who's doing what, have a list of items to test afterword
    Good luck!
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  • KFaganJr
    One more thing, take pictures! Both before and after. Think of it as your portfolio and a reminder of why you want to be vigilant on cable management
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  • carlosdl
    Great advice !. I was going to add something similar to this: "Test items before you start, you’ll be amazed at how quick you get blamed when a sparsely used printer isn’t working a week after you completed everything". I have seen it many times. People want things to work even if they weren't working before the work. Even if no one else blames you, you are most likely going to test everything after the work, and you could end up spending time trying to fix something you didn't break. Installing a network monitoring solution (there are free ones) could be a good option to help you check network connectivity before and after the re-cabling. Good luck.
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  • jinteik
    Can I say, let management know and if better and it if is not critical, then ask them for down time as you would not panic when the thing does not work. having diff color network cable is great idea, but if you are going to recycle the cable, it will be great to have both the ends of the cable labled as it will be easier to find it is connected to where.
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  • Tomzimmerman
    [...] 9. A great display of the value of the IT Knowledge Exchange community: Tom Zimmerman gets advice on rewiring a server rack that looks like spaghetti. [...]
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  • Tomzimmerman
    [...] 2. KFaganJr, CharlieBrowne, Gabe9527, Carlosdl, and Jinteik all provided some great tips for a member prepping to rewire a server rack that looks like spaghetti. [...]
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