What can a tidy Network Closet tell you about your current IT management provider?

At Standard Computer we believe that a clean, tidy, network closet means that someone with high-attention to detail and professionalism is in charge of your IT department. This level of professionalism will be carried out into software updates, backups, security software and so on. Accordingly, if the closet looks unprofessional then we believe that this signals that all the other work is sloppy as well.

Below you will find a collection of some of our closet cleanups and before you jump in it might be helpful to review the things that we are looking for when we evaluate a network's physical infrastructure.

Employee Areas:

  • Faceplates should be labeled and POE if using VoIP phones.
  • No cables should just be coming out of holes cut in the drywall
  • Patch cables should be in the wall, not running down the wall or across the floor. Cinder block walls are no exception.
  • Tape or thumbtacks should never be used to secure cables to the wall.
  • There should be no fuzzy strings at the end of the cable, this is the tension sheathing and without it the cable is held in place only by the data pairs.
  • Snag-resistant cables are preferred, otherwise the network connector ends will have the ‘ears’ broke off and will easily pull out of their jacks.

Server Room:

  • All network equipment should be wall or rack mounted and clearly labeled.
  • Equipment screens and status indication lights are facing out.
  • Proper cable management tools being used properly.
  • Proper grounding, not wire frame shelves, wooden shelves or non-ventilated cabinets.
  • The temperature of the server room should be cool not warm.
  • The network board should be painted - we prefer the "ma bell" colors of black and orange.

Before & After

Messy Rack Is Messy

Before Standard:

--Cisco Gigabit Switch cooling fans sounded like coal mining operations
--Waterfall of patch cables of varying lengths
--Two switches due to lack of scalability
--Second switch is 100mbps
--Cisco 1000mbps switch not rack mounted due to excessive size
--Battery backup with multiple surge protectors powering everything from old telephone systems (Turned on, Not in production), Two internet modems (Turned on, Not in production), DVR, Monitor, Old speakers, Alarm system, etc.
--Cables ran into room in many locations
--Old telephone systems turned on utilizing power but not in production
--Closet extremely dirty
--Networking spread across two locations
--Current state = VERY difficult to troubleshoot issues.
--Server located on floor in second location
--UPS next to server on floor
--Plethora of +10ft cabling in spaghetti format connecting the small switch to the 3 server NICs, Ubiquiti WAP, Phone, PC, Firewall, & NAS.
--All devices shoved into a dirty corner on the floor along with other objects stored in this room from the office.

After Standard:

--Both rooms fully renovated to accomodate their purposes
--Old systems that were on and not in production tore out and trashed (Will save $$$ on power costs) 
--Old faulty switches removed and replaced with up-to-date 1000mbps 24 port switch providing an increase in network speeds and scalability. 
--High grade Orange boards installed
--All devices properly mounted and power sources audited, mounted, and installed for peak efficiency. 
--All cabling consolidated to one inlet from the attic
--All cabling punched down to patch paneling 
--Slim run patch cabling installed 
--All trash from shelving thrown away 
--Shelving cut in half and the alarm & DVR systems installed properly on one side 
--Shelving built in server room
--All cabling and devices properly mounted or placed on the shelving near the ceiling 
--Shelving was built to only accomodate the server \ networking devices. This is to prevent storage space from other sources. 
--All devices labeled, All PCs and printers labeled 
--All devices tested after project completion

Rack Attack

Before Standard:

Shallow closet with full sized 2 post network rack, 95% of rack is empty, closet is crowded and difficult to troubleshoot.
Telecom board full of old equipment, Equipment is loose and dangling by cables, Excessive length patch cables obfuscating the view of equipment, critical equipment not labeled.

After Standard:

The entire left side of the closet is now empty and made available for staff to use for admin purposes. All network equipment is logically stacked on the right side, all equipment is secured to the wall, clearly labeled, all diagnostic read out lights can be seen for rapid troubleshooting of network issues.

Sheetrock Fail

Before Standard:

Networking equipment spread out on two walls, server located in different room under a desk. Equipment is screwed into sheetrock and is falling out. Power cords, UPS and surge protector are randomly chained together. The internet firewall has (6) power connections between it and the wall outlet, any of which could fail and produce downtime. Equipment was improperly anchored and was pulling out and falling to the ground.

After Standard:

Networking equipment consolidated into one wall, subdivided the Alarm system from the client network. All equipment is secured into cabinet grade plywood, clearly labeled. Powercords are managed and grouped on the UPS based on priority. Server moved from under the desk to this office, additional wifi installed to provide coverage to back ops.

The Under-Counter Closet

Before Standard:

Network cables ran directly to equipment with no patch panel, cables were missing ends and prone to popping out, equipment ran hot, internet modem was accessible only by entering the crawl space below the office.

After Standard:

Standard did an excellent job, our office was built from an old house and it was a nightmare to have one of our staff go under the building with all the spiders every time we needed to reset the comcast modem.

What's Behind That Desk?

Before Standard:

Doctor's office held all the network cables, switches and server. The internet and phone system was in a different part of the building. Equipment was all located behind the desk in his office which was loud and caused his furniture to not fit together nicely.

After Standard:

We established a new networking location, repulled all network cables, wall mounted the equipment with clear labeling and proper UPS protection. We also vacuumed behind Doc's desk and moved his return back into position so his furniture looked nice.

I.T. Moved from Floor to Wall

Before Standard:

Pretty much everything is on the floor with the exception of (2) 24port patch panels, a few switches and a wireless access point. The equipment has to be climbed over to reach anything and there is no room to store anything or work in this closet.

After Standard:

Larger network board installed, patch and power management systems installed, custom shelf and work bench installed to support server and network equipment. Speaker equipment moved to it's own shelf, monitors are stacked to allow easy access to DVR and computer. The stool is now the only remaining piece of equipment on the floor.