Proper labeling plays a big role in not only data center performance and reliability, but also in high-performing enterprise networks. To keep data centers and networks running smoothly, it is critical to know what’s being deployed where, what each component’s purpose is and what it ultimately connects to.
Labeling can also help you keep up with inevitable changes. Because transformation is a constant factor in any data center or LAN environment, labeling things like new equipment; labeling any updates as a result of moves, adds and changes (MACs); and labeling any other internal adjustments can keep everyone on the same page.
What (and Where) You Can Label
There are many ways labeling can be used throughout your data center and enterprise network to improve organization and streamline maintenance and repairs. Examples include:
- Telecommunications spaces
- Cabling pathways
- Firestop locations
- Grounding elements
- Patch panels and ports
- Cable ends connected to patch panels or ports
- Consolidation points
Benefits of Proper Data Center and Network Labeling
There are some obvious benefits that come along with labeling – and some not-so-obvious perks, too.
Better Tracing and Troubleshooting
The easiest way to do something like track which port goes to which outlet, for example, is to label. Labeling makes tracing and troubleshooting faster, telling you exactly what you’re looking at – and what it’s connected to.
By visually providing listing information directly on cables and components that helps trace them back to specific floors, rooms and terminations, proper labeling supports faster maintenance. Being able to quickly identify information makes it easier to get to the root of the issue, as well as complete repairs faster.
Less Unplanned Downtime
According to an Uptime Institute report, human error in cabling management is responsible for 88% of power outages. Clearly labeling cables and connectivity can prevent accidental outages due to someone unintentionally working on or moving the wrong component.
Sometimes it’s not just your team that works on your data center or network – outside parties are brought in, too. Poor cable tracing and labeling can slow projects down so much that it sometimes prevents installers or contractors from agreeing to take on repair and maintenance work in environments with inaccurate – or no – labeling.
Proper data center and network labeling can also prevent you from having to work with a vendor just because they’re the only ones who know how your infrastructure is set up. No matter who works with your cabling or connectivity components in the future, they’ll be able to quickly and easily see the information they need when everything is labeled appropriately.
Faster Staff Onboarding
When new employees join your team, it can take a while for them to learn the ins and outs of your data center or network – especially if things are chaotic and aren’t labeled correctly (or aren’t labeled at all).
Proper data center and network labeling can help them get up to speed faster, and enable them to make simple fixes or adjustments on their own without a lot of assistance.
When system components can be identified quickly and accurately, standard MACs become much easier – and can be done without any guesswork involved. A clearly labeled set of cables makes it faster and easier to create a plan in advance that won’t create unexpected issues later.
Properly labeling cables and components also ensures that you spend less time addressing network issues, giving you more time to focus on other important strategic initiatives.
What Standards Say About Data Center and Network Labeling
ANSI/TIA-606-B.1, Administration Standard for Telecommunications Infrastructure, provides guidance for data center and network labeling and identification. Following these suggestions ensures that everything has a standard way of being labeled.
The standard calls for things like:
- Making sure labels are visible
- Ensuring that text is machine generated and not handwritten
- Using labels that resist moisture, dust, heat and UV rays
- Regularly checking labels to make sure they’re visible and accurate
Belden’s Data Center and Network Labeling Solution
To make sure you can label your Belden cable and connectivity products efficiently, LabelFlex Labeling System labels are designed specifically to fit on Belden solutions. While there are other labeling options available in the market, they’re not always easy to adapt to the product you’re trying to label. They may be too narrow, too wide, not available in the color that coincides with your color-coding system, etc.
Last year, we improved our LabelFlex Labeling System software, which can now be accessed at no cost here. Once you’ve downloaded the software, you can choose the products you need to print labels for:
- Cables/patch cords
- Cross-connect systems
- Fiber products
- Miscellaneous (racks, cabinets, etc.)
- Patch panels
Each label is designed specifically to fit on the component you need to label, and you can do all of your label creation and printing before heading to the jobsite. The software’s sequence generator lets you produce anywhere from one to hundreds of error-free, easy-to-read labels in just a few minutes – it’s no longer a long and difficult process. Because the labels print on white labels with full-color backgrounds, you don’t need to purchase and stock labels in different colors.
The labels can also withstand tough environmental conditions, including dirt, dust, moisture and high temperatures. Your LabelFlex Labeling System will last just as long as the components they’re identifying. How do you handle labeling in your data center or enterprise network? Tell us in the comments below!
In his role, Benoit Chevarie is responsible for the growth and profitability of Belden copper and fiber connectivity products. He maintains a solid knowledge base amongst Belden’s sales forces, as well as maintaining competitive pricing strategies and keeping a rich but lean product line that corresponds to a dynamic market demand. He was also certified in 2016 as a Project Management Professional (PMP).