Patch Panel Rewire Recommendations/Documentation

Hello fine people,

I have been tasked with rewiring ~13 racks of various sizes and complexities. Some may require only slight cable management, while others will likely require a full tear down and rebuild.

I’m fairly new to rack management so I’m looking for three things:

1: Any recommendations on best procedure for moving hardware and or cables within the rack.

2: How best to document which cables go where and how devices are connected to each other.

3: Any cable management or organization tips and tricks.

Any feedback is appreciated.

I’ve done a fair few in my time. Mostly schools. Are you sitting comfortably?, this is a bit of a long one!

Are you going to have to do it live or with downtime?

Either way, Buy some RackStuds, thank me later.

I tend to start by labelling each cab A, B, C, AA, AB, then label each patch panel 01, 02, 03
Then each outlet becomes AA-01-nn where nn is the port number on that particular panel. If there isnt a clear and consistent numbering scheme I’d probably start there. Start a google sheet with Cab, Panel, Patch, type, end, test, notes

Test each cable as you go and mark any that fail for remedial work (and for “it wasn’t me it was like that when I started” ). Check that the backs of the patch panels are secure so you don’t disconnect stuff if you move it.

If you need to do it live then make sure you point out that there is always a chance you might knock something and take it down by accident. Because you will.

Grab a load of loooong (5m) patch cables (colour doesn’t matter at this point) some 4/6/8 gang power strips and some C13/C14 extension cables.

Decide how you want the patch panel to switch layout. Do you want all the patches together in the center, at the top or at the bottom or do you want 2u of patch then a cable management bar then a switch then 2u of patch…Personally I don’t tend to bother with cable management bars. Check the slack on the back of the panels, that might restrict the options.

Work out the smallest number of “moves” to get from where you are to where you want to be. Write it down. Create another google doc with a sheet for each cab with U, target device, current device, moved (date). If it’s a full depth cab then do a front and a back. Fill it out for each cab.

Check if there is a UPS on the cab, if there is then test it, if not quote to provide one, mention that a UPS at £100-200 is less expensive that a blown switch and/or downtime.

Agree a colour scheme for cables, nothing will be perfect but something like; Red:servers, Yellow:uplinks, Black:Wireless, Blue:Phones, Green:Printers, Gray:none of the above. Print it, laminate it tack a copy of it to the inside door of each cab. Use tape or heat shrink tube to mark fibre. Do a rough count of the number of devices, add 20% but that many of each colour + a roll of tape of each colour (for when you run out of green but have a gray and “just need to get this done for now”). Depending on your layout you can probably get away with .25m or .5m cables with a few 1 and 2 thrown in for good measure.

Start with the first thing you need to move, swap out patch cables with really long ones, keeping them together so that your switch has a route to follow where it won’t get tied in knots. Also swap any cables that are tight across the thing you are going to move first. You will need to pull the thing out forward but (unless it’s really long) will probably be able to turn it through 90 and slide it back into the cab, route it to the new location try to untie the power as you go (making use of the loooong patch cables).

Once it’s bolted back in with the RackStuds swap the looooong patch cables back for shorter ones, if you can, do the colour scheme at this point.


Thanks for the in depth reply!

All the racks will be in schools and done over the summer so won’t have to do any live.

I have seen the RackStuds and would love to get them, but all the racks are the kind that are pre-drilled for a specific screw size, no square holes.

The labeling of ports and racks is all over the place, so I’ll be borrowing your scheme.

I’m probably going to keep the patch panels as close the switch as possible. All the racks have USP’s installed in them already. Those are in the bottom of the racks and I’m planning on leaving them there.

There is already a pretty well defined and followed color scheme so I’m not gonna mess with it.

I appreciate the tips on how best to move the equipment and the colored tape idea.

Just wanted to add that the suggestions made great sense, follow most of them myself when doing rewires and cleanups. Reiterate the point to let them know that occasionally items WILL (Not might) go offline as almost impossible for something not to lose connection - even briefly. Have not used those Rackstuds myself but now added to my next shopping list to certainly try on my next project.

As stated, make all of your plans and preparations well ahead of start and stick to them.

Where is possible, replace old type patch panels with new, modular, keystone style panels, makes your life easier as you can move keystones around and do individual port troubleshoot easily. Not to mention how easy is to do the punchdown thing (also need a keystone punchdown stand or held tool). Anyone who punched down a little bit of skin, knows why.
Good luck.