Cable color coding

I like things neat and orderly. Everything should have it’s place. I like standards and sticking to them.

My preferred cable coloring method is blue for general data. Yellow would be for important or critical systems. Cross over cables or an unsecured network area, such as the Internet edge, would use red. Management connections would be green. This is great for helping to identify what the cables function is or assist in tracing a cable through a bundle of wires. When the cables are first installed in a brand new installation, it looks good.

Everything is neat and orderly. How long does that last? A week? A month? Eventually someone who doesn’t care about how the cabling looks or where you connect that cable into the network will come in and disrupt all order and organization. Next thing you know, your cabling turns into something like this.bad_cabling

In a recent project we had to build two brand new Data Centers in a very short time. We didn’t want to have to worry about having enough of the correct color cables at the correct lengths. So we decided to just go with black cables. The racks/cabinets are black, the patch panels are black, the cable management is black, everything except the equipment was black. Using black cables would help to hide any poor cabling that was done. When we were done, it looked good, neat, and clean. However we didn’t have any of our coloring cues. I got to thinking about how we could use black cables and still have those coloring cues.

Electrical tape! It comes in a variety of colors. Just cut off a small piece and wrap around each end of the cable near your label. Yes you wouldn’t have the visual color as you traced a cable, but it would make you double check before you unplug that blue tagged cable you thought was going into the DMZ and should be red. This could even open up more colors than were possible before.

This method has great benefits. You keep the color coding standard, all of the same colored patch cables look neat and clean, the black cables in black rack/cabinets and cable management look uniform and clean, and you don’t have to worry about keeping on hand so many different colors and lengths of cables. It’s like some kind of intergalactic hyper-hearse, correct?

If you have a color coding standard, keep it posted somewhere in the DC or network closet with the colored tape so everyone can easily reference it.

My parting comment is not to move any cabling on someone who is OCD about it. It is very annoying. That means you Terry.


Disclaimer: I can’t post pictures of client’s environments, so I borrowed pictures I found online. Below are those credits.
Neat cabling
Bad cabling
Colored electrical tape