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Entries in Infrastructure (1)

Monday
Oct102011

Infrastructure Cabling Brought Down to Size

A friend asked for some help neatening up a server closet in a small business. 

“The place is a mess, I’m almost embarrassed to have you here.”  

“We can make it better.  Are there any times you can be down?”

“Every Sunday afternoon, after 1PM.”

What better place to be than a server closet on a Sunday afternoon?

This business is located in what was probably once a grand house.  The business needs had eclipsed some of the grander parts of the house.

The server closet was as advertised: a (former) closet.

Sample

It turned out the situation wasn’t as grim as projected.  Over time, the people doing work in the closet had kept to ~80% of a reasonable wiring standard:

  • High voltage (power) was kept at one level, and in one color
  • Data cabling was blue
  • Analog phone cable was white
  • Equipment was everywhere

To address this in an afternoon meant using what we had on hand, and not doing a rip and replace.

Starting with high voltage, we quickly separated the two UPS systems and placed on separate power feeds in the room.  I’m not a fan of small UPS’s being right on the floor (water is my fear, being a minor leak, a mop, or a spill), so one got mounted to the backboard, the other placed on a shelf.  All power cables were then run along the same path, with 90 degree turns and cable tied together.

The phone cabling was in pretty good shape, although the cable management could be improved.  Over time, every bundle ended up with its own set of cable ties.  We cut those, and bundled together.

The data side needed a bit more work.  We literally unplugged and reran all the data cabling within the closet.

Any cable not being used was removed.  This is a key in large data centers and closets.   Take the time to remove unused cables…power, data or voice.

In the course of this exercise, we did remove the clothes rod (it really had been a closet), and swept up.  We also identified and re-enabled an exhaust fan for the room, providing some external venting for the machine, and re-programed the external building sign light timer.

After a few hours, we had everything back up and running and in neat order.  This will pay dividends over time with improved maintainability. 

Hats off to the Verizon FiOS and Security System company…all their cable runs were neat, tidy, and buttoned up nicely.

This is a matter of discipline, and a case where large company approaches can be “rightsized” for smaller firms, paying benefits over time.  Any company can do it.