Cabling is important. Its need to be good enough. The problem I have with cabling is that people spend way to much time fussing, fretting and fooling themselves that having nice cabling actually has value.
You should be spending time in meetings, writing scripts or buffing up your excel skills to work out the software subscription licensing costs.
Q. Want your advice on a cabling colour scheme for our new data centre ?
A. I DO NOT CARE. IT JUST HAS TO WORK. NO REALLY. I JUST DONT CARE
I read Greg Ferro. I have read his blog for many years. I feel his pain and acknowledge it. And, although this argument is well written, it is worthy of comment for those who choose to think different.
You see, I do fall in the camp that cabling is important. It’s representative of many things that exist in Information Technology that are under the covers. Cabling determines how serious you are, how disciplined your IT show is, and the attention to detail your team has. Yes, cabling says all that. And when you invite me over to see your data center, it’s what I am thinking when you show off your hard work.
“Network cabling usually only represents 10% of the total technology spend.” – Bill Atkins, during his time at Panduit
Yet, we run the production IT show on that cabling.
“Sometimes you have to do IT two or three times to get it right.” – Former CTO (Name Witheld)
Ouch. Doing the same things two or three times is not cost efficient and often indicative of culture. Did you hire the right people and put them in the right seats? Did we listen to our wiring experts or follow the misguided advice of “this is how we’ve done it for 20 years”? Two or three times in the wire business is great for the manufacturer and installer, bad for the organization writing the check.
Why Cabling Should Be Important To IT People
I didn’t say critical. But there should be a standard to hit, as IT craftsmen. A guide to follow. Here is my top 5 things I recommend peers to consider when cabling.
#1. Wiring should be easy to understand. Color codes and design. BICSI. ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A, Administration Standard for the Telecommunications Infrastructure of Commercial Buildings, or the updated ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-B documents these standards.
#2. Wiring should be easy to troubleshoot. As-Builts in all data centers and cable plants. Consistent labeling throughout the facility. Velcro over zip-ties. Basket tray versus cable tray. Combined wire with slack vs. just letting it hang.
#3. Quality versus Crap. Mid-grade wire versus minimally compliant. Wire for the 20 year plan vs. no plan. 1GB is often plenty. 10GB is overkill if your back end can’t support it. Think hard about plenum vs. non-plenum.
#4. Manufacturer and installer proud. When the manufacturer wants to show your work to their prospects, that’s a good sign they’ve done it right. Choose certified installers. Ask the question. Then choose quality products that align with your team’s standards.
#5. Wire once. Your ROI is far better achieved when the installer comes out to do the big job versus coming out multiple times over 2-3 years. Multiple times often equates to two times the labor cost. Your not saving money and the chances of mistakes are actually higher. Wire once, if at all possible. And then ask the manufacturer to QA your job during your walk through.