Improving Efficiency and Airflow Through Cable Management

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Wednesday, August 21st 2013 — Categories: Colocation , Colocation, Data Center Design, Green Data Center

Cables are tangly, dongly little devils. Everyone’s dealt with that jumbled mess behind a desk or entertainment center at some point. They collect dust, clutter up space and probably even evolve life if you leave them alone long enough. In a data center, that just doesn’t cut it. In fact, cable clutter can actually raise operational costs, drag down energy efficiency and even put infrastructure at risk of interference, cross-talk, and cable damage.

data center cabling impacts efficiencyMost operators know cable management is vital to increase energy efficiency through improved airflow. It also has the added benefit of making your facility look like a professionally run, clean place instead of a rat’s nest. As more and more data centers embrace 10 Gbps and 100 Gbps fiber connections, there will only be a proliferation of cables throughout facilities, further necessitating smart management. Data ports continue to become denser as well, leading to a bit of a challenge when it comes to keeping cabling neat.

40 and 100 Gbps Ethernet connections in particular will lead to a huge increase in fiber cable densities, because they require additional transmit and receive fibers for every connection. Older fiber panels designed for low-density fiber will likely need to be replaced; any current cabling or planning should take this into consideration. Luckily, new cable technologies include reduced diameters, helping reduce the bulk of high-port-count infrastructure.

If you are running cables under a raised floor (a design method that may be outdated), stick them under the hot aisle to avoid blocking the path of cold air. Place them in the same direction as the aisle as well, as cables running across the aisle will also block more air. If you have raised floors, overhead cabling can still be a better solution as it allows more airflow in the plenum. Mesh cabling trays block less air, and any openings in the floor or ceiling for cables should be sealed to avoid drops in static pressure, which will negatively impact your air conditioning efforts.

Proper cabling doesn’t just lead to higher efficiency for your CRAC and free cooling equipment. It can also reduce signal interference, simplify your maintenance activities (saving money on labor) and provide a guide to scale and adapt to future changes (such as 40/100 Gbps connections). Getting cabling right the first time will result in a lot less headaches down the road, while providing immediate energy savings.

Posted By: Joe Kozlowicz