Best Practices for Data Center Cabling

Best Practices for Data Center Cabling


Today’s Datacenter house a large number of diverse bandwidth-intensive devices, including bladed servers, clustered storage systems, virtualization appliances, and backup devices-all interconnected by network infrastructure. These devices need physical cables with an higher performance factor .

There are considerations outside of the cable plant and number of connectors alone: usability, scalability, costs and the ability to perform Moves, Adds and Changes (MAC’s). Additionally, some limitations exist based on the category of the cabling system. Copper and fiber distances may vary with the type of cabling system selected. We will discuss some of those parameters and their potential impact on data center designs.

This Document will take you, briefly though the process of effect planning of cabling in data center which includes:

  • Understanding cabling requirements
  • Planning cabling infrastructure
  • Selecting cabling components
  • Implementing and testing cabling
  • Manage Cabling infrastructure


Key Factors to be considered for Data Center Real Estate:

Planning is the key. You may involve in wiring and cabling for new datacenter or upgrade of existing one.

  • Review Common Media Types: Before you start, please review common media types used in datacenter. There are chances that a new type supported by device since you did similar project last time. For example, you implemented in datacenter few years back with 1Gig backbone and now current project need 10Gig backbone and has servers with 10Gig NIC also switches support 10Gig connections.
  • Document the Current: if you are upgrading an existing datacenter, document the topology and various types cables used and present. Also document proposed cable type, count, distance, area of concerns, and any established internal cabling.
  • Plan to accommodate both copper and fiber: use copper and fiber as needed. Build flexibility, so that the patching structure will allow a device to connect to any other device in datacenter.
  • Use structure approach: create a structure and implement the same. In this plan core-distribution, distribution-access or MDF-IDF topology and follow the same.
  • Define naming convention: Define an easy to understand naming convention for all cabling. It should be in such a way that anyone can understand how is the physical connections.

For example : 10th port on 5 Patch Panel on rack 2 of 3rd row can be

PC325-10 [ PC{row}{rack}{patch panel}- {port}]

  • Document the cabling design: once cabling is done and servers are connected, it gets very difficult to trace cable connections. So it is always best to document and manage cabling design.

For Example : Server1 is connected on server_farm_sw1 on 4/5 port

SS111-10 >>SF124-5 ( this can have multiple level of cable connections but document it and if it is too complicated make a flow diagram for “how to document”

  • Modular Data Cabling: Modular cabling systems for fiber and copper connectivity are gaining in popularity. Modular cabling introduces the concept of plug-and-play, simplifying the installation of cables and reduces time and cost. In this cables are normally pre-terminated and tested.
  • Trust the standards: Industry cabling standards are designed to protect the end user. Weather these standards are in draft or ratified state, they provide a firm foundation for establishing a coherent infrastructure, and guidance.

There are a number of standards organization and standards. The tree best known cabling standards organizations are listed below:

United States   ANSI/TIA/EIA-568 from the Telecommunications Industry Association

International    ISO/IEC IS 11801 (Generic Customer Premises Cabling)

International    TIA-942 from the TIA

  • Use Color to Identify Cables: Color provides quick visual identification. Color coding simplifies management and can save you hours when you need to trace cables. Color coding can be applied to ports on a patch panel.

Example color scheme for patch cables:

Color Type Application
Aqua OM3 Fiber LAN/LAN Device to Device
Yellow Single Mode Fiber LAN/SAN Device to Device over long distance
Orange OM1 or OM2 Fiber LAN/SAN Device to Device
Blue Copper LAN Device to Device
Green Copper KVM
White Copper Serial host to terminal Server
Black Copper Power strip to LAN Switch
  • General Media Standards: Following list contains standard media types widely used.
Application Media Classification Max. Distance Wavelength
 10GBASE-T  Twisted Pair Copper  Category 6/Class E UTP  up to 55m*
 10GBASE-T  Twisted Pair Copper  Category 6A/Class EA UTP  100m
 10GBASE-T  Twisted Pair Copper  Category 6A/Class EA F/UTP  100m
 10GBASE-T  Twisted Pair Copper  Class F/Class FA  100m
 10GBASE-CX4  Manufactured  N/A  10-15m
 10GBASE-SX  62.5 MMF  160/500  28m  850nm
 10GBASE-SX  62.5 MMF  200/500  28m  850nm
 10GBASE-SX  50 MMF  500/500  86m  850nm
 10GBASE-SX  50 MMF  2000/500  300m  850nm
 10GBASE-LX  SMF  10km  1310nm
 10GBASE-EX  SMF  40km  1550nm
 10GBASE-LRM  All MMF  220m  1300nm
 10GBASE-LX4  All MMF  300m  1310nm
 10GBASE-LX4  SMF  10km  1310nm
  • Horizontal Cabling: Use horizontal patch panels to accommodate cables in racks and manage them neatly. Also Cables should be labeled and tie using ties or Velcro
  • Vertical Cable Manager: Cable manger is used to manage cables going across racks. Mostly vertical cable mangers are covered and give neat and clear view.
  • Overhead Cable Trays: Use over head trays to manage cables. Define Power cables and network cables and don’t keep them in same area.

As Diagram shows

  1. Power Cables
  2. Power Cable trays
  3. Network Cable trays
  4. Cable Manager in Rack


Data Center Cabling is onetime project viable for lifetime of Data Center. Choose wisely and make is a master piece. If you design it right, it will definitely going to add to success of your data Center.

KEYWORDS: Data Center, Datacenter, Location, datacenter cabling, fiber cable, Cabling standards, maximum distance cabling, best practice data center cabling

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