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  • For me, I get an excel spreadsheet and draw my switch by putting borders round cells and calling them port 1 to 24 or 48 depending on the switch size. on sheet one

    On sheet two I draw out my floor ports.

    Then trace that cable back to the floor port

    in the port number i enter FP XX on the Floor port tab I enter SW1 - 24 for example. 

    That way I have it mapped at both ends. If I'm doing this to replace the cables I'll order up suitable sized cables and label both ends, if I'm doing this to trace cables so I know what goes where I will tidy that cable if possible and label both ends

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  • I would feel that it might be better to engage a networking vendor as most of them can solve within a day or 2....depending on how well label it is in the beginning....

    Then as per other posts on how to use patch cables with switch....many people propose the "sandwich model"
    - Core switch
    - Patch panel (24 ports single row)
    - 48 port switch
    - patch panel (24 ports single row)
    - patch panel (24 ports single row)
    - 48 port switch 
    - patch panel (24 ports single row)

    Then all you need is 3cm or 5cm patch cables from patch panel to switch. But only 23 ports on patch panel used as last 2 ports on switch used for cascading.

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  • Thanks Chris, yeah that’s pretty much the way I was going, 

    Cheers

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  • i actually do not map out port to port cable runs, unless they are specific.  I look at my switches and see which ports are specifically setup as trunks, port channels and access to a certain VLAN.

    Example, if I have 4 switches connecting my patch panels, I just look at which patch panel ports are connected to my switches.  Then find out which of those are connected to ports that are set different than the rest.  Patch panels that are connected to data port that is pretty much default just get written down as to be connected back to any port on a switch that has default.  I only label the ends of cables that are set as trunk, port channel or access VLAN 5 (Test).  The rest of them are just simple and I don't need to label them.  Biggest task I have is to find out which of these patch panel ports is connected now but doesn't have a machine on the other side that uses it anymore.  I did get in the habit of putting my switches between 2 patch panels and use 1 ft patch cables.   Easy to trace and no mess!

    Networking rack looks like this:

    Patch panel > Switch >Patch Panel > Patch Panel > Switch > Patch Panel > Patch Panel > Switch > Patch Panel

    For every switch the top ports hosts the top patch panel and the bottom ports hosts the bottom patch panel, plus you don't have to use cable organizers anymore!

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  • chris.hone.5688 wrote:

    For me, I get an excel spreadsheet and draw my switch by putting borders round cells and calling them port 1 to 24 or 48 depending on the switch size. on sheet one

    On sheet two I draw out my floor ports.

    Such spreadsheets are fine if an inventory tool does not support documentation of switches and patch panels. I prefer this documented in an inventory tool like GLPI IT and Asset Management Software​.

    chris.hone.5688 wrote:

    That way I have it mapped at both ends. If I'm doing this to replace the cables I'll order up suitable sized cables and label both ends, if I'm doing this to trace cables so I know what goes where I will tidy that cable if possible and label both ends

    And when ordering suitable sized cables, it helps also to select appropriate cable colors. Color coding may assist documentation.

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  • Good luck, it can be a tedious project cleaning up the messes made by others.  Just develop a plan for what you want to end up with and make it happen one cable at a time.  

    Here's what I started with:


    Gotta love how they just dropped Ethernet out of different ceiling tiles and just left the ceiling open...


    Here's the horrid mess when I was halfway done (I opted to replace the old rack with a new one, and had to add a LOT more wiring and the existing wiring needed to be mostly ripped out.


    Here's what I ended up with:


    I slowly accomplished this change over a couple years between other projects.  No outside help was used.

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  • We use a LInux-based opensource tool called Cacti with a plugin called MacTrack.  It polls the mac address tables of the switches such that I can see the mac and IP address of what is plugged into each port of each switch.  It has been super helpful for getting a handle on things like this for us.  It also keeps a history of each switchport so over time, you can look back and see when was the last time something was seen on a particular port.  Based on the insight from this, just last month, I pulled a couple of dozen cables out of a network that was also a rats nest...trying to help move from the nightmare the server room has been to something manageable and professional.  There are tons of cables in this situation where ceiling tiles have been pushed back to allow them to "drop" into the server room.  Others are run around the perimeter of the building inside of ductwork, etc., etc. 

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  • I agree with KevinB85. Only label cables if there is a specific need.

    start with the largest group of similar connections - probably user wall ports. Choose one color for this, and do not label. then use a different color for other uses if they are really needed such as network equipment, servers. Only label if really needed - you can get labels that you print on and then wrap round.

    Typically cables are labelled with a unique ID and the opposite end reference. eg. if a cable goes from panel 2 port 4 to switch 4 port 19, at the switch end you label it panel2/4 and at the panel end label it sw4/19. Always use the shortest length possible.

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  • CharlesHTN wrote:

    ...

    I slowly accomplished this change over a couple years between other projects.  No outside help was used.

    Inside help is showing in the cabinet. Nice chicken :-)

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  • awesome inputs from everybody, as many mentioned here it will take time and many afterwork hours to complete properly but here are some tools that may help you on this that I've been using for a while now in my own projects.:

    https://www.dymo.com/data-communications-vertical.html

    https://patchbox.com/patchbox-network-cabling-system/

    https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Comb-Dresser-Bundler-Organizing/dp/B07VJZG24J

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  • Having done this before, I find myself having flashbacks... hah!

    A good spreadsheet and patience for the more demanding tasks.  It takes time, but...  I mean I have almost 5000 hours in Factorio, maybe I'm one of the weird ones?

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  • I label everything on opposite ends.  If a server is plugged into switch A port 01, then that label goes on the cable at the server.  The other end at the switch gets server tag number, and which nic it connected to, and even a service if it's mission critical.  In my documentation scheme, I could start at the core and find the path to the wall drop, I even documented the endpoint

    The path would look something like this.  CoreSW Fibre port > Glassbox > switch uplink> switch port >patch panel > room drop > endpoint device.  Having this documented helped more times than I can count.  

    I wish I had taken photos of my handy work...

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  • CharlesHTN wrote:

    Good luck, it can be a tedious project cleaning up the messes made by others.  Just develop a plan for what you want to end up with and make it happen one cable at a time.  

    I slowly accomplished this change over a couple years between other projects.  No outside help was used.

    Thats why I would recommend getting a vendor in.....they tidy up our 1200 person office (we took over another floor when the previous tenant lease expired) in just 3 days with like 6 pax scanning the faceplates on tables & walls then labeling the cables in the old rack. Then they patch the labelled cables into new patch panels and the switches on the new rack.

    The last 4-6 hours was spent hunting for unknown cables.

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  • Spreadsheet, pre-patch everything, label it and most importantly lock the door so nobody can tinker as you always end up with 'temp' cable that runs the length of the comms room!

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  • don't forget to "name" the ports on your switches, too.

    Example:

    Cable from patchpannel A1 comes from let's say ESX01-vmnic02-prod.
    Name your corresponding switchport in CLI/webinterface something like A1-ESX01-02-p.

    Saves you much time and effort if you ever have to swap switches or cabling.

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  • randallader wrote:

    CharlesHTN wrote:

    ...

    I slowly accomplished this change over a couple years between other projects.  No outside help was used.

    Inside help is showing in the cabinet. Nice chicken :-)

    Yes, that is RITA (The Reliable Internetwork Troubleshooting Agent), also known as the Server Chicken, which we installed per RFC2321.  One of the most important pieces of equipment in our server room.  I keep another RITA offsite as a backup.  She guards our network 24/7.

    https://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc2321

    :)

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  • adrian_ych wrote:

    CharlesHTN wrote:

    Good luck, it can be a tedious project cleaning up the messes made by others.  Just develop a plan for what you want to end up with and make it happen one cable at a time.  

    I slowly accomplished this change over a couple years between other projects.  No outside help was used.

    Thats why I would recommend getting a vendor in.....they tidy up our 1200 person office (we took over another floor when the previous tenant lease expired) in just 3 days with like 6 pax scanning the faceplates on tables & walls then labeling the cables in the old rack. Then they patch the labelled cables into new patch panels and the switches on the new rack.

    The last 4-6 hours was spent hunting for unknown cables.

    It all goes back to the old "Good, Fast, Cheap, pick two" choice. 

    We inherited Fast and Cheap.

    You had a budget, so you fixed it with Good and Fast.  Certainly the best option to go with if possible.

    I had very little budget to get it done, and no deadline, so mine was done Good (hopefully) and Cheap, accomplished over time as I had spare moments to put in a few hours. 

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  • CharlesHTN You are so right about "Good, Fast, Cheap".  So so true and applicable to so many things...

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  • As far as the rack, if it's something I have a hand in, I prefer to go patch panel, switch, patch panel, switch, etc so I can use 6 inch cables to keep everything tidy. I prefer the coupler / pass through style keystones as opposed to punchdown blocks for the patch panel, but that's personal preference. If you are wanting to use existing cables that are already terminated, that can be a help. 

    As far as tracing cables/jacks, if the office can be down (after hours or something like that), this gizmo has saved many a headache.  https://cablesupply.com/cable-identifier-catagory

    Load up the patch panel with the RJ45 plugs and take the tone generator to the different jacks with someone watching the rack. Plug in the tone generator and the plug in the patch panel with light up. Take note and either label the panel to match the jacks or (and this gets much easier with the keystone jacks) unplug the CAT5/6 from the keystone and move it to the patch port you want that jack to be going to. 

    If you can't afford to take down the network like this, you can go piecemeal with other kinds of tone generators. Fluke is the go to name for that kind of equipment, but those tools tend to be expensive. I have a Klein kit in my backpack that I use that I am very happy with. 

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  • Get yourself a copy of LanTopolog or other switchport mapper and make your life easier. If you already know what is plugged into a given switch port, it makes finding that device a bit easier. Then get your label on.

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  • 1. Label maker : Dymo Rhino series is pretty good. (make it easier on you later, or the next guy) 
    2. Good port map : Excel should work, plan and prep is key.
    3. Be Pragmatic : give yourself a buffer for troubleshooting issues, configs, cables, buy extra cables, too long is better than too short! 
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  • Probably redundant here, but what I did was the following (at the casino I worked at that is):

    • Identify where everything is plugged into
      • If you don't know this already, and ports don't show descriptions, use a combination of MAC tables, DHCP, DNS, and map out where everything is plugged in at
        • use port descriptions on the switches to help document these
      • this will also help later if you need to segment stuff further, with vlans
    • map these connections to patch panel ports
      • it helps to diagram switchport to patch panel port, and build a numbering/naming scheme that works for you, like patch panel A port 5 to switch 4 port 9, or whatever
      • spreadsheets might help here, it's what I used - I had a before, during, and after sheet
    • IF you feel things need to relocate
      • create separate sheets (spreadsheets) to list out where things will be moved to, when things are re-done
      • this will help you plan the patch panel layout, if you want to go into that much detail - again, for organization purposes, if you need to isolate networks, this will be useful, even though it's time-consuming
        • I spent some time doing this to coordinate where things went in the building, what department, etc... and tried to plan where I would place them in patch panel ports so that the switchport configurations made sense, and someone coming in behind me knew exactly where someone's device was plugged into
          • you may not necessarily NEED this kind of granularity, but if you want to implement port-security, it helps to know who is connected where, so if their computer is replaced, you can quickly find and resolve any port-security issues to get things functional after the swap
    • Label each cable
      • on the backside of each patch panel port, as you work with each cable, label it so you know where it goes
        • also, label it with the destination you will move it to with the relocation, if you are moving wires around
          • I had a couple hundred wires to work with, I labeled things with cable tags and little 1 by 1/2 inch labels and stuck them to a tag that wraps around like a ziptie
          • this way, I could find what I was looking for and feed it where I wanted to go
    • one-by-one, pull each cable out of the rack
      • this is tedious, and makes a huge mess... but, it pulls everything out and gives you room to work behind the rack
        • this is also a good time to try and untangle stuff, though if it's already a rat's nest, this part is not easy to work with...
      • pull each wire out and attach it above the rack to the front switch
        • this may require punching each connection to an RJ45 keystone, then using a patch cable to connect to a port you want it to go to, now is a good time to reconfigure ports accordingly, so the next phase is much more fluid
    • begin feeding the cables in the order that they will connect through the top of the rack into the patch panel, then into the switch
      • doing this from the port closest to the point the cables come into the top of the rack
        • this will help you manage the cabling, bundling things together so they're neat
        • use velcro or zipties to hold cables together, once you get them where you want them
          • this will do 2 things: make them look pretty, and make them not move, so connections will be more reliable

    With each device you move, make sure to test with the user

    Many times, I moved things around, plugged in factory-made cables, only to find out the cable had a couple pins messed up, and the phone or workstation wouldn't get DHCP or whatever... test each one as you go to make sure you're not scrambling after the fact with 50 devices that won't connect all at once.

    Ok, if this is messy, I apologize, I was typing on the fly and trying to run on memory of an operation I ran through 2 years ago...

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  • Unfortunately, if you've got a lot of too-long cables hanging, the best way to solve that is to (after hours) replace those with appropriate length cabling and add channeling to your switch rack so that you can keep everything nice and clean.

    I stumbled on this product several years ago, and plan on implementing it at my current job within the next few months. I hate seeing cable spaghetti. 

    https://patchbox.com/patchbox-network-cabling-system/

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