Data Center Wiring Standards

Bill Sehmel bsehmel at
Sat Sep 9 04:54:32 UTC 2006

Rick Kunkel wrote:
> Heya folks,
> I hope this is on-topic.  I read the charter, and it falls somewhere along
> the fuzzy border I think...
> Can anyone tell me the standard way to deal with patch panels, racks, and
> switches in a data center used for colocation?  I've a sneaking suspicion
> that we're doing it in a fairly non-scalable way.  (I am not responsible
> for the current method, and I think I'm glad to say that.)  Strangely
> enough, I can find like NO resources on this.  I've spent the better part
> of two hours looking.
> Right now, we have a rack filled with nothing but patch panels.  We have
> some switches in another rack, and colocation customers scattered around
> other racks.  When a new customer comes in, we run a long wire from their
> computer(s) and/or other device(s) to the patch panel.  Then, from the
> appropriate block connectors on the back of the panel, we run another wire
> that terminates in a RJ-45 to plug into the switch.
> Sounds bonkers I think, doesn't it?
> My thoughts go like this:  We put a patch panel in each rack.  Each of
> these patch panels is permanently (more or less) wired to a patch panel in
> our main patch cabinet.  So, essentially what you've got is a main patch
> cabinet with a patch panel that corresponds to a patch panel in each other
> cabinet.  Making connection is cinchy and only requires 3-6 foot
> off-the-shelf cables.
> Does that sound more correct?
> I talked to someone else in the office here, and they believe that they've
> seen it done with a switch in each cabinet, although they couldn't
> remember is there was a patch panel as well.  If you're running 802.1q
> trunks between a bunch of switches (no patch-panels needed), I can see
> that working too, I suppose.
> Any standards?  Best practices?  Suggestions?  Resources, in the form of
> books, web pages, RFCs, or white papers?
> Thanks!
> Rick Kunkel
Ideally from each core router would go to a two distribution-a switch 
(Cat 4900 or something similar), from both dist-a switch then go to two 
bigger distribution (dist-b) switches (cat 6500 etc) Then from each 6500 
go to there own patch panels. Then from the two patch panels run a 
cables to access level (2900's etc) switches in each rack / shelf. This 
way you have full redundancy in each shelf for your co-located / 
dedicated customers.

My .02 cents

-Bill Sehmel


 Bill Sehmel   -   bsehmel at   --     1-703-288-3081
 Systems Administrator,   HopOne Internet Corp.      DCA2 NOC
 Bandwidth & full range of carrier/web host colo + networking
 services:                    ASN 14361

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