Recently we did a cabling project for a client who wanted to use a specific method of cable management. It was a method we hadn’t used before.
After talking to the client further to better understand why they wanted to do cable management this way we realized their idea was actually a pretty good one.
Most of the time, our wire management involves a vertical wire manager on at least one side, with horizontal wire managers mounted between the patch panel and switch. Like this:
This keeps the cables tidy and prevents them from becoming a giant mess like this:
Our client was asking to eliminate horizontal wire managers and instead use 9-inch patch cables from each port to each switch. The caveat? They were planning to light up every single port.
Doing this changes the game on cable and port management from an IT perspective. If all ports are plugged in, IT never has to make a trip to get a specific port functional.
For example, let’s say a user calls IT and says they want to connect to port A144. IT knows that A144 is plugged into switch 3, port 48. From there, they can access the switch and light up the port. This allows IT to do the job in 5 minutes instead of having to make a special visit. Happy user, and happy IT.
The time savings is a clear benefit to this method.
The only downside? It does cost more money upfront as you will have to buy switches with a lot of ports. It’s not unusual to have twice as many cables as switch ports.
The reason for this is that typically we drop at least two cables and jacks on a wall plate per desk/office/cubicle. In larger rooms we may install 4 cables on a wall plate per wall, so that furniture can be rearranged or more people added. Some clients want extra cables for personal printers or a separate cable for a phone. You also need cables for wireless access points, video surveillance, copy machines, etc.
So in an office with 100 people you will easily have at least 200-250 cables to provide the flexibility you need. It’s cheaper to run all those cables at the same time than to pull extra later.
Just because you have all those cables does not mean they have to be active. But with this alternate solution, you buy extra switches so that you have enough ports to plug in all cables and make them active.
The thing to consider is how much time this method could save your IT team from locating and plugging in ports. The larger your environment, the bigger impact this can have.
This method is also beneficial if an IT partner is remotely managing your environment.
It’s an interesting solution, and one that’s worth considering depending on your environment and budget.