Remember those times when you wish you could get your car in for service, but your work/life schedule just was not having any of it? You waited for a vacation, a day off, or a free Saturday to finally make the appointment.

It is that time right now for business technology. In the next four to eight weeks, offices will be bustling again. The ability to clean up server rooms and have on premises network tune-ups and upgrades will be limited again soon.

If you are truly looking forward rather than reacting, now is a great time for technology cleanups and upgrades.

Nice Rack Space!

Even if it is just a few hours of getting that rack space in your server room cleaned up, now is the right time to “get ‘er done” with literally no office disruption.

Whether you deal with a couple of servers or a full cabinet of gear, organized cabling and removing retired equipment is important for numerous reasons. Some of you might be saying “no, duh” at this point, but bear with me:

Is your cabinet clean and organized when it comes to power and data cabling?

Can you remove any device without the risk of impacting other connections?

Does your cabling restrict the breathability of your servers?

Is your setup intuitive and easy to maintain?

If something failed in your setup, would it be easy to replace?

If you didn’t answer yes to all of those questions, there are a number of easy steps you can take to clean up after your cables or have River Run do for you right now. Since free content is king, here are some expert tips how you can DIY it. Of course, if these seem daunting after you read the whole list, River Run can do it for you quickly and cost effectively.

1. Size up your equipment.

Review the physical styling of the equipment you have in your rack. Chances are good you can break it up into three styles: full-length devices, short-length devices, and switchgear. Group similarly sized items together, with space above and below for future additions.

2. Review your gear’s breathability.

This is especially important when considering your switchgear. Most data centers operate in a hot/cold row design. Almost all servers take cold air in from the front and exhaust hot air to the back. Switches, however, don’t always follow that rule, and if they do, you may be mounting them backwards to make them easier to cable up. Consider the following tips:

Place like equipment together when it comes to the airflow for intake and exhaust.

Do not leave 1U gaps between side-to-side airflow switches, as hot air can sneak back into the cold air intake.

Make sure passively cooled devices have a 1U air gap above them. This prevents them from dumping heat into actively cooled devices.

Check with your suppliers to see if your switchgear has various airflow options that would work better in a cabinet setup.

3. Move power to one side.

If you use vertical power distribution strips, place them on one side of the cabinet. Look at the gear going into the cabinet and choose the side that the power supplies are on for the majority of devices. This gives you full separation between your power and copper cables to give you an easy way to manage the cabling.

4. Invest in custom-length cables.

No, I don’t mean you should go out and terminate every cable to length—just don’t use excessively long cables. The power and network cables that come with a server are designed to cover all environments. You might only need a cable that is three feet long, and if your cable is much longer than that you will waste space storing the slack. Ask your facility if they carry custom-length cables and in what sizes. If they don’t, there are many vendors on the Internet that provide data and power cabling in one-foot increments at a very reasonable price.

5. Stick to Velcro.

By far, this is the single most versatile cable management tool you can buy, and it doesn’t even eat up usable cabinet space. Most cabinets have cutouts for attaching Velcro to help tie down your cables. If you have a lot of cabling to do, make a large Velcro loop through which it’s easy to string cables, and then tighten it down when you are ready to leave the cabinet.

6. Strip away the excess.

If you do not open your servers while they are powered on, you can probably get rid of those cable management arms to improve cabinet airflow. (Some storage arrays may use these arms for live serviceability, in which case you should look at installing service loops — neatly done coils of slack that can be undone — or, as a last resort, cable management arms.) The same approach can also be taken with front bezel covers. If you do not need the functionality of the cover, consider removing it from your device.

7. Do not cross over swappable parts if you can avoid it.

See if you can route your cables in a way that does not interfere with hot swappable parts. If there is no avoiding it, add enough slack to be able to shift the bundle of cables out of the way for service work.

8. Avoid waterfall cabling.

Route your cables 90 degrees across the device. Never let them hang off the back of the port. Hanging the cable can put a lot of stress on the network connection and could cause intermittent problems or equipment failure. By bringing the cables 90 degrees across the device, they can be bundled together to help provide support and they don’t interfere with other devices/open space above or below. This is one of the biggest mistakes we see on a daily basis and is easy to solve with a little Velcro.

9. Allow no more than a foot of slack.

If your cables come in one-foot increments, you should never have more than 12 inches of slack to deal with. If you do, swap the cable with the proper length. This process is a lot easier if you loosen the Velcro at the start of any cabling so you can quickly run cables through the bundle.

10. Color-code your cables.

If you have multiple switches and network connections, consider color-coding the cables to make it easier to tell which connections go where. This also helps when reconnecting a disconnected server, as you can match the pattern the other servers are using. If you do not have multiple switches, color-coding by purpose works too (e.g., one color for Internet connections, one color for internal networks, etc.).

11. Train before granting access.

If you can, limit the number of people that have access to the cabinet and review with them the above best practices and how you implemented them. Explain the benefits and how keeping it that way improves their ability to work quickly and effectively in the cabinet. After they are familiar with how things are set up, have them show you their work for verification. This can be accomplished via video chat, pictures, email, or in person. Once they earn your trust, the verification step can be dropped.

12. Always keep extra cables in stock.

This tends to be one of the biggest reasons for people to do something wrong. They didn’t have the correct cable, so they made a compromise and used the wrong cable. Keep this from happening by always keeping a basic stock of the common colors and lengths you use on hand.

13. There is no such thing as a temporary cable.

They do not exist, so do not let them happen. With a clean setup, it should only take slightly longer to do it right then it does to do it wrong. If you see a cable run poorly, fix it as soon as possible or it might become an example for others to do the same thing and take shortcuts.

River Run can do this for you quickly, cost effectively, and extend payment terms if you are budget sensitive right now.

We are finding that are our engineers and techs can get in and get work done onsite more quickly and cost effectively because your full staff is not hustling and bustling there. For business technology, this is a great time to “get your car into the shop”. You can get that necessary tune up done now before you are running at 120 MPH again. And we would rather help prevent “blowing a gasket” now to not see you sidelined in a few weeks right as your workforce is ramping up again.

Get Your head in the Clouds

Now that you have your rack space looking well organized and breathing easy, it is time to think about moving more to the cloud. You may have been putting it off, but as it has become clearer during the pandemic, now is the time to move more of your data and data management to the cloud.

With the onset of restrictions that COVID-19 has created, more companies are recognizing the unquestionable value that cloud delivers. Perhaps the most fantastic thing about cloud technologies are the flexible options they provide; even more so now in this time of crisis, when companies need solutions they can implement and test quickly. A vast, never-ending network of cloud-based systems enabled the world around us to stay up and running throughout this pandemic with very few hiccups. We already see the rapid rise of telemedicine, an industry wholly enabled by secure cloud technologies.

Just think how many more other ideas and companies will start with the help of the cloud due to the pandemic and define how we interact with technology in the post-Covid-19 era. We are confident that as a society, we will innovate our way out of this crisis, and that the cloud will continue to be a fundamental enabler for decades to come.

You do not need to go it alone. Let a River Run expert help you build your cloud strategy — assessing your application portfolio, reviewing your cost structure, and identifying the best-fit platform for your needs.

Keep moving forward and plan projects now and in the coming months with confidence in an economy that is already rebounding.



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