Welcome back to Tech Service Today's IT Disaster of the Week series where we showcase the ugliest IT environment our technicians ran into this past week. This week's photo caption is: "Here comes Peter Cottontail, with tips for those on the IT trail..."
While this week's photo is clearly a disaster, I applaud the person who installed it for injecting some color into the mix. All too often IT professionals use blue copper cabling for pretty much everything. While that’s a completely acceptable practice, I believe every IT pro can learn some helpful cabling tips by just looking at the freshly colored Easter eggs in their refrigerator.
This first thing Easter eggs show us is that having a variety of COLORS is appealing. It reminds me of a problem presented to me years ago by a very forward-thinking but frustrated IT leader of a top retail chain. He and his team were designing a store-in-a-box blueprint that would simplify both the installations and remote troubleshooting/maintenance of the IT equipment and cabling being installed in hundreds of new stores, as well as the nearly 1,000 existing stores for which IT refreshes were planned.
A key component of their store-in-a-box design was the cabling color-coding scheme, which was also the source of his frustration. He asked me how he could use cable color coding effectively when the number of different colors he needed (to designate one color to each of over a dozen store systems) exceeded the eleven (11) standard jacket colors of Cat5/Cat6 offered by every leading cable manufacturer.
Since everyone he had posed this question to prior to me had failed to offer a solution, I alone got to witness the joyful expression wash over his face when I suggested using different colored snagless boots on the eleven colors of cables he was already using. Upon realizing how many color combinations this opened up to them (i.e putting white boots on blue cables; yellow boots on red cables, etc.) he saw any future color-coding limitations vanish. Frankly, I think the concept of using multi-color combinations would have dawned on him eventually if he had just paid attention to the Easter eggs his kids were coloring.
So what other tips do Easter eggs offer IT professionals? Well my daughter used to love coloring eggs for specific family members, whom she would identify by either writing their names on them with crayons, or by putting stickers on them. Whenever you have a lot of similar things that you must be able to distinguish between and/or identify easily (whether they are eggs or patch cables), it’s a good idea to LABEL them.
After decades spent asking IT managers why their network cables aren't labeled, I've heard one of two reasons (excuses) almost every time. The first is: “I know what every cable is connected to, so we don’t need labels.” My response to that is always: “But what happens if you get hit by a bus tomorrow (or perhaps something a little less tragic)? Without having anything documented, anyone who tries to make sense of your network will be completely lost.”
The other excuse I hear is: “Our network was so small initially that we never saw a need for labeling anything. But it's grown so much over the years that it's too late to try labeling everything now.” My response to them is a phrase that professional and personal acquaintances hear me say often: It is never to late to do the right thing.
If your network has become such a disaster over the years that attempting to restore order seems like an impossible task (at least for you), then call Tech Service Today and ask about our cabling cleanup service. And if we ask how you heard about our company, tell them Peter Cottontail sent you.
Check back every Friday for TST's latest IT Disaster of the Week photo
which represents one of the thousands of customer sites our technicians visit every year as they install and service IT, networking, and telecom equipment & cabling for our clients.
Click here to see last week's IT Disaster photo.
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