Professional Rack Installation = 8 Hours of Labeling


DELL Server im Rack

Originally uploaded by BlaM4c

Last week I spent close to 8 hours printing and applying labels to different cables in a packed and live rack. And it didn’t help that the rack runs our virtual servers, ie. our most mission critical servers.
The rack itself consists of 3 identical 1U servers from Dell, 2 Gigabit Dell switches trunk’d into each other running separate VLANs for iSCSI and “normal” traffic. The EqualLogic HDD-array that provides the storage for the servers runs 2 controllers, both with a connection to both switches. Then there’s 5 CAT6 cables for each server providing the iSCSI, server management, virtual server NIC etc.

All in all I think I labeled 5 cables per server (15), 3 per EqualLogic module (6), 3 iSCSI cables for some other servers and 2 trunk cables. In both ends. So if my math is correct, that amounts to 30+12+6+4= 52 labels on just network cables. Then the servers needed 2 labels each (6), the EQ-box plus labels identifying the controller modules (3), the 2 UPSs and the 2 switches. That’s 13 more labels. So all in all I did over 65 labels that day.

Now, I’m perfectly clear on why this rack needs labels just about everywhere. Imagine on cable comes loose when you’re fiddling with something. Then if that cable end is labeled with which port it goes into, then reconnecting it correctly becomes a very minor task, and can be done quite swiftly.

The problem I had with this task is that the week before, 2 technicians from Dell spent the whole week setting up the rack. It would have been a lot easier for everyone if they’d bothered labeling every cable as it went into the rack in the first place instead of me carefully tracing each and every cable in the operational rack.

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