What are the industry best practices for cabling high-density production server cabinets without patch panels? My boss wants to eliminate the hard costs of patch panels. My networking environment is edge to core. The cabinet density is 40 x 1 U servers per cabinet.
This is generally not recommended. There are several reasons including the fact that what you end up with is a lot of long patch cables. The fixed horizontal lengths should be fixed. It is far easier for troubleshooting and in fact is likely going to be better for performance. Cords become tangled, unsupported and, in general, very difficult to manage. There may also be performance issues depending on the lengths of the cords and applications. However, there are some companies that do this anyway, despite the risks. You will need to find a mechanism either underfloor or overhead to go from the switch to the server ports. While you may eliminate the patch panels, you will still have to figure out a way to properly support the cords and maintain appropriate bend radii.
Some companies have moved to putting patch panels under the floor or overhead in the cable trays. This option provides the best of both worlds as it eliminates the density in the cabinet. Be sure to check with your cabinet manufacturer to determine the proper fill ratios for their cabinet openings.
This was first published in February 2007