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PRE-Cabling: The Key To A Faster Data Center Relocation

Here we will learn why Pre-cabling is an essential component of a data center move.

Migrating a data center involves planning at all layers of the technology stack from the physical layer all the way up to the application layer.  The involvement of managing all these components makes project managing a data center migration unique and challenging.

One of the most important KPIs for success is achieving agreed timelines, the most visible being at the time of execution of the data center move.

Physical connectivity in the data center using CAT5, CAT6 and Fiber is the next step after servers, storage and network equipment have been racked and powered up.

Each server has the potential to have numerous connection points all of which need to be cabled to specific ports on the core switch and potentially the fiber switch.

Let us use the following small data center move project to illustrate the importance of pre-cabling:


Origin – 4 racks

Destination – Equipment moving to 3 racks

Storage – SAN (Half Rack)

Compute – 10 2 U servers, 1 Blade chassis

Network – Cisco 4500 Switches, Citrix Netscalers, Checkpoint FW

General Environment – Vmware with 800 host machines running critical applications


Cabling Environment:


The number of cables emerging from devices in this type of typical environment is multiplied by the need for dual connections to facilitate redundancy in the environment.  As a result, a typical Vmware host may have the following connections


4 Network connections – fiber

4 HBA connections – fiber

1 DRAC Port – Ethernet

2 Power Cables

Multiply this by 10 and suddenly we have 110 cables.

The overall environment including cross-connects between devices will typically multiply to a total of 250 -300 connections, all of which need to patch into specific ports on the network or SAN switch.

Cabling Timeframe In Execution

Cabling sits at a critical juncture in the overall timeframe. That is between racking of the physical equipment and the availability of the environment to the network, Infrastructure and platform teams who will typically be tasked with making the environment available to application teams.

During a migration co-ordination and management of time for each component is critical to success.  To this end, each team seeks to manage and minimize the timeframe for each effort in the execution stage of the data center relocation.

Pre-cabling your target environment will shave hours off the data center relocation window and more crucially eliminates the risk of exceeding your agreed timeline.

What is Pre-Cabling?

Pre-Cabling is simply setting out and labeling cabling within your target cabinets so that connections to the server and switches are in place prior to the arrival of the equipment.  In this way, equipment can be rack mounted and connectivity can be established immediately after powering on equipment.

As an example, the VMware host above which is slated to be racked up on the 25th U of the 48U rack will have all cabling positioned at the 25U point, clearly labeled and ready to patch in.

The time saved per device multiples to a significant amount of time in a tight schedule which is typical of any data center migration.

How Much Time Will Be Saved with Pre-Cabling?

Let us assume the target destination has the following rack layout.

Rack 1 – Network Rack (Cisco 4500s, Checkpoint FW, Netscalers and Fiber Switches)

Rack 2 – Server Rack (Blades and Servers)

Rack 3 – SAN environment


48 Rack to rack ethernet ports which terminate in a frame. Within the frame, cross-connects can be established to provide connectivity rack to rack within the full environment.

Pre-Cabling Methodology Vs On The Day Cabling

Estimated times for cabling devices (Not Including Power)

Device Number of Connections Pre-Cabling – Minutes – Per Device Total Pre-Cabling Minutes on Day Cabling Minutes On The Day Per Device Total Cabling Minutes on Day
Server 9 5 45 30 300
Blades 20 15 15 90 90
Cisco 4500 Switches 100 30 60 150 300
Netscalers 10 20 40 30 60
Checkpoints 10 20 40 30 60
Total 200 810

From this example it can be shown that Pre-cabling will save 610 minutes.  This number can of course be mitigated by having two or more cablers assigned to the job, space permitting, however time and efficiency saving with Pre-cabling is significant especially given the short timeframe in a relocation.

Comparison of Pre-Cabling \ Cabling on the day

Pre-Cabling Cabling on day
Faster Migration Window x
Longer preparation x
More Time Prior to Execution x
Less risk x



Pre-Cabling requires more planning and upfront time when carrying out a data center relocation and it will cost more in labor to carry out the pre-cabling effort as well as purchasing new cabling.

Pre-cabling however significantly reduces risk and the execution timeframe for a project.  As a methodology, it is highly recommended that pre-cabling is built into your project plan.

Panther Tech offers Pre-Cabling, Discovery, Asset management solutions providing you with asset data in a professional, actionable format, no matter the size of your environment. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or email; ahmed@panthertech.us

If you like this article please like, comment and share. You may also like my other article, 5 things to ensure your data is safe during a move.