Cable Management Tools
We all know how important cable management is to an efficiently run data center (Cabling in a Data Center), but how often do we think about what we’re using to corral all that fiber and copper? It may seem like a small issue, but the tools you use can make or break your cable management system.
The industry standard is cable ties, also called zip ties, and there are definitely some reasons why this is the case. They’re cheap, incredibly durable, and once you have them in place they’re not going anywhere. Most importantly, however, is the simple fact that they’re basically what’s always been used. It’s a practice inherited from the telecomm era, a habit that we’ve just never dropped. But there are some real drawbacks to this old stand-by. They can pinch and damage cables if you’re not very careful when installing them, especially fiber. They have to be cut off, which can be difficult and time consuming, as well as run the risk of damaging cable. This also makes them a single use product, mitigating much of their cost effectiveness.
One alternative is waxed cotton rope. When done right it can be even sturdier than zip ties and quite aesthetically pleasing. It’s also relatively inexpensive. But the key phrase here is “done right”. That’s because this method requires a great deal of skill and time. It’s also just as outdated as cable ties. And while it’s difficult to damage cables during application, the rope must be cut off, creating the same risks as removing cable ties and precluding reuse.
Another alternative is twist ties, or bread ties. This one is less of an option and more of a last resort. They’re cheap and even offer some limited reuse, but they’re very flimsy and decay quickly. They’re also very time-consuming to apply and remove, causing many to cut them off, again precluding reuse and risking critical infrastructure. Given how flimsy they are, it’s difficult to secure large trunks with them, and good luck finding one in a full cable manager.
The final choice, and the Silverback standard, is Velcro. Like any option, there are some drawbacks with Velcro as well, but it brings a whole lot to the table. It’s easy and quick to install and remove, making it a breeze to trace or run new cable. No matter how hastily or tightly it’s applied, Velcro does not cut into cable. And while it’s one of the more expensive choices on the market, it’s also completely reusable, which significantly increases its cost effectiveness. It will move around if not secured snugly, and is made of fabric which can make it susceptible to the elements after many years, but these are minor challenges.
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