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high density patch managment

We have 2 x 4006 switches each with about 225 10/100 ports in each. Our current patching is a mess and with such high port desity its getting almost impossible to track and trace any cables to work out which switch port field outlets are connected to.

Does cisco provide any information on patch management on their devices or is there any infromation around for their devices with advice on the best way to patch things neatly.



Re: high density patch managment

Nothing official, but I think you'll find it's more of an Art than a science ( a little planning doesn't hurt either!).

From the science end of the deal, remember that to maintain Cat5, 5e, 6 ratings, you must maintain a minimum bend radius (MBR) on the cable as it exits the blade; usually 2-3" radius as a safe rule-of-thumb. Any bundling of the cables must be done without compresing the jacket of the cable (deformation can degrade the electrical characteristics of the cable).

From the "Art" perspective, what works for me is to first decide if I want to route the cables above & below, or down each side.

Generally speaking, for horizontal blades, it's better to route the cables to the sides, for vertical blades, it better to route the cables to the top and bottom. The reason is simple; if you have to replace the blade, the cables can be moved without major disruption so the blades can be swapped.

Next, the cable routes can be adjusted to see the status lights for the blade and chassis.

There are a number of cable routing aids / trays, ladders, etc that can be used. Check out and search for "cable management." They have a broad selection from a number of vendors.

Many rack and cabinet vendors have equipment made specifically for their racks and cabinets (cable management systems).

Personally, I find that a single bar or small ladder works well for anchoring the cable bundles. If you're going to truss all the cables, LABEL EACH AND EVERY ONE OF 'EM - Both ends with the source position and destination position; once you bundle 'em up, tracing a cable path is living Hell without a good label.

I also use the "slotted duct" - it looks like a square tube with slots or rows of fingers. Most have a cover so that once the cables are in position, and the cover is on, you only see the short lengths of cable from the duct to the port. If you keep the tails somehat parallel, it looks pretty good when you are done .... even though there may be a rat's nest inside the duct (this would be bad technique ... but it looks good).

Getting back to the MBR issue, it's better to use a cable that's too long over one that's just barely long enough to reach point-to-point. Usually these cables have a 90 degree bend as soon as the cable exits the connector...a violation of MBR (degrades cable performance). It's better to have a cable that makes a lap or two around the vertical periphery of the rack or cabinet than one that's stretched (easier to make it look good too).

There's a lot of tricks, most you'll end up learning by giving it a try. Pick a time after hours (you'll invariably end up having to untangle some cables by pulling them out of the port); bring in your favorite tunes and plan on spending a couple hours.

Buy some cable ties, various sizes. Get some adhesive anchors. If you need to tie down a bundle, and there aren't any anchor points, you can "peel & stick" an anchor and use it to fix the position of the bundle .... even across the face of the blade or chassis. Also get a good pair of diagonal cutters ("Dykes") and learn to trip the cable tie ends flat across the locking nut ... if you leave a little corner, it is very sharp and you or someone will end up getting sliced.

Get a large supply of "Paddle Tags;" smaller cable ties with a larger flat surface (the "paddle") to label the cable ends (both ends, both source and destination positions) with a fine point Sharpie marker. A good alternative are numbered strips. The disadvantage to numbered strips is that you need to keep a legend sheet around to figure out what numbers go where.

That's about it for a starter. I'm sure others will jmp right in with their hints & tricks to tameing the Rat's nest.

The last hint that comes to mind is to buy a bunch of extra jumpers. As you work, you'll probably break off clips, find flakey jumpers, maybe ruin a few out of frustration ... better to have 'em handy and keep a few known-good spares.

Good Luck


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