9 Ways to improve data center cable management

Cable management is one of the most important aspects of data center design. Last week, Processor magazine interviewed our Wire and Cable Product Engineer, Steve Molek, on ways to improve data center cable management. Below is the transcript from that interview.

Processor: Do you feel data centers have made inroads in recent years in terms of cable management, neatness, and organization? If so, what do you attribute the improvement to?

Steve: Yes. Equipment overall has become smaller, thus allowing more electronics in a cabinet.  Because of this, installers must pay closer attention to cable management, otherwise they can lose the valuable space gained to the additional cables.

Processor: In what areas do data centers still falter in terms of cable management? Where can they still improve?

Steve: Old habits die hard. In the past, cable management was not a focus, since data centers used a more “centralized design.” Today, cable management should follow a more structured design, similar to horizontal cable runs.

Also, one of the simplest ways to organize your data center is by using colored patch cables and bulk cables. Colored cable has been around a long time, and coloring the security system differently from accounting or customer service lines, for example, is a great way to visually identify different runs of cable at a glance. We offer the same kind of coloring in our fiber patch cable lines as well, which is not as common in the industry. Continue reading


Colocation Data Center Vending Machine Serves Up Ethernet Cables

You’re a field engineer in desperate need of a patch cable. The last place you’d go is probably the first place the engineers of M1 would go. The company’s vending machine.


M1 Data Center in Melbourne

M1 is NEXTDC’s flagship Australian data center facility located less than two miles from Melbourne’s central business district. The Melbourne facility is the largest independent colocation data center in the city, with six data halls measuring 10,760 square ft. each and features a 400kW rooftop photovoltaic solar array —the largest privately funded installation in Australia, making it the first data center in Asia Pacific to use solar power as a supplementary energy source.

M1 is carrier neutral, and offers a range of co-location options from custom racking, to quarter-rack, all fully serviced in state-of-the-art, secure facilities around Australia. As part of the services they supply, they introduced a vending machine in the engineer’s and technician’s rec room for ad hoc networking gear.

Up until recently, the vending machines were sparsely populated with a mishmash of supplies. Matthew Grosvenor, Marketing Coordinator for Black Box Australia, and Norbert Benko, Sales Manager for Black Box Australia, recognized this as an opportunity to populate the machines with a full line of products. After many months of negotiations, Norbert signed a contract for exclusive supply. Continue reading

Case Study: Major broadcaster adopts multiuser matrix system for upgraded studio

Broadcasting studio personnel, from engineers to editors, are on the search for extension and switching solutions that work for multiple users. Issues to avoid are delayed switching times, no simultaneous access for multiple users, and limited USB device support. Broadcast engineers need to reliably extend and switch high-quality video and audio. They also want to use the most up-to-date infrastructure to hand and have a scalable, future-proof system.

A major network studio in Chicago came to us with a wish list for its broadcast studio upgrade. The chief hardware engineer was looking for a video extension and KVM matrix switch that would work over the existing Ethernet network in the studio. The system needed to enable forty producers, directors, studio technicians, and operators to gain access to more than sixty computers, servers, video sources, and camera feeds from any desk location.

The Chicago studio produces live broadcasts. Transmission glitches were unacceptable. The system needed to enable forty producers, studio technicians, and operators to gain access to more than sixty computers, servers, video sources, and camera feeds from any desk location. Flexibility and scalability were vital.Broadcasting

The system that had been deployed prior to our involvement cased daily problems and numerous help desk tickets. The problems included delayed switching time, lack of simultaneous access for multiple users, limited device support for USB HIDs, uneven video and audio quality, and poor system reliability and durability. We needed to address all these issues at once. Continue reading

The importance of properly cleaning fiber during termination – Part 2

This is part two of a three part series on fiber cleaning. For part one, click here.

From the August, 2014 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine
By Sean Sheedy

Amazingly, cleaning was a problem in the earliest fiber installations, more than 40 years ago, and is still the primary operational problem in the industry today. Are we all a bit slow on the uptake here? Companies need to refocus their efforts to properly clean every endface, both sides, every time they touch their connectors.

Fiber End FacesIt is absolutely essential the bare fiber be perfectly clean before inserting into a ferrule during connectorization. Here the operator is preparing to clean with a high-quality lint-free wipe that does not contain any glues or cellulose. The cleaning fluid evaporates quickly and the canister cannot be refilled, which ensures the cleaning fluid will remain pure and uncontaminated.

Cleaning tools: Good, bad, ugly
Let’s take a look at the tools we give our techs. Usually it is a box of cellulose wipes and a pump bottle of isopropyl alcohol. What’s wrong with these time-proven choices? Almost everything.

The lint-free wipe needs to be truly lint-free. Many wipes are made of cellulose, held together with glue (called “binders” in the paper trade). Cellulose fibers are weak and shred easily. The glues that hold the paper together are dissolved by liquids such as water and alcohol, so glue often leaches out onto fiber surfaces. So while you may have removed that pesky fingerprint from the endface, now you have left other residues on the endface that may be just as much of a problem as the original dirt.

A related issue develops when companies buy their techs high-quality wipes, but because these wipes are more expensive the operators don’t dispose of them after each use. As they said in Apollo 13, “Houston, we have a problem.” Wipes should never be re-used, because contamination migrates. So in this situation, the techs simply are moving the dirt from one fiber to another. Continue reading