Today I bring you a short read, regarding a project I worked on over the weekend for one of my father in-law’s clients. My father in-law owns his own business, does a lot of ethernet cable runs, installs security cameras, amongst many other things, for small and large businesses. I had an opportunity to join him over the weekend for part two of a cable management job he was working on. The previous weekend, he had done cable management on one of two racks at this business. As expected, the second rack was a mess, you literally couldn’t see the equipment these cables were going to. The fact that the majority of businesses IDF’s look just like this or worse is crazy!
We started out by consulting with the onsite resource and asking him if we could disconnect everything and re-run the cables which would have probably made things a lot easier, but unfortunately, that was not an option. We started off by moving three switches up a few U’s (Units), to place them closer to the patch panels they connected to, ultimately allowing us to use shorter ethernet cables and making it look neater. Next, we began tracing cables from the switches to the patch panels and vice versa, coming to find out that a lot of the cable connectors were missing their locking tabs. Not having locking tabs made it critical to pay attention to where each cable was connected and also make sure we didn’t tug any cables too much because OTHER cables could easily slide out of their ports. Of course, a few cables ended up sliding out, but I was able to spot them sliding out and plugged them right back in. As someone who is still learning, watching those cables slide out, or even the thought of not seeing where a cable went because it slid out by itself, is terrifying. The last thing I want to do is have something break and it not work because it’s not plugged in the correct port. Carefully I proceeded disconnecting and tracing cables one by one, and as I went on, I started speeding up. It’s better to take your time when first learning instead of trying to speed through it and make a mistake. One great idea I observed was that my father in-law had a different colored ethernet cable, different from the ones we were working with, and he used it every time he disconnected a cable from a port. He would place the different colored cable in place of the cable he disconnected from the switch, and would proceed to trace the cable back to the patch panel. He did this to ensure he could identify the cable/port from the spaghetti of cables and plug it back in the correct port after re-routing. Right away I said, “WOW that’s smart!”. It’s little “real world” tips and tricks like this one that save you headaches and time.
This was my first actual cabling project and I have to say, although tedious, I had a lot of fun. Once we finished the cabling, the last step was for our onsite resource to confirm everything was online. Once we got confirmation that everything was online, we began cleaning up. This is a step I feel many people disregard after completing a job. It’s all about leaving a lasting impression from the moment you walk into the building, to the moment you leave. You may be the best at what you do, but if you leave your workspace messy, the client will remember that going forward, it says a lot about you.
This job took a few hours to complete and due to some restrictions we encountered from the client, in regards to disconnecting components, we did the best we could with what we had, but I think it turned out great. Not only did I learn a thing or two on this job, but I also got real world experience which is a huge plus for me. Overall I had a great time, something about getting all tangled up in cables is fun for me, and makes the time fly. I found this project very valuable because aside from the job itself, I learned how to approach and communicate with clients. I learned the process of doing such a job and also, that being organized/detail oriented is key to success.