WHAT IS A PATCH PANEL AND WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING ONE TO MANAGE YOUR CABLING?
The Canadian government promised 50 megabits per second download speed for businesses by 2021. If you want to fully take advantage of your internet connection and your local area network bandwidth (speed), good cabling is crucial. Your network can quickly become disorganized especially if you add network cables over time and if the work is not performed by professionals.
It’s not unusual for businesses to have an IT room where multiple cables hang from the ceiling and are quite messy or where the server rack is covered in cables that are too long and hang down to touch the floor. This makes it hard, if not impossible, to know which cable connects which device.
Enter the patch panel, a multiport extension device that allows you to easily organize, extend and configure your network. Here’s why you should use it in your business to manage your cabling.
1. ORGANIZE YOUR CABLES AND SAVE TIME
Without a patch panel, most businesses have a mess of network cables strung across their server room, server rack and even hanging loosely from the ceiling in many cases. IT specialists have to physically untangle and follow cables to know which cable connects to which device.
Most often than not, the cables are not labeled. In these situations, figuring out which cable run to which office or device involves a lot of guesswork and the only solution is to try different network jacks one after another… If you are paying an IT specialist to assist you this disorganization and the resulting waste of time causes a direct increase in your support costs.
This is not ideal and besides being a waste of precious time and resources it can also become extremely costly especially in case of emergencies where something critical stops working on your network and can causes revenue loss.
A patch panel is very similar and plays the same role as the old phone switchboards we sometimes see in older movies where a receptionist is manually connecting calls by moving a phone jack from a port to another.
With a patch panel the cables are terminated (which means connected) behind the patch panel and the front is a female network port that is numbered and easy to identify.
Using smaller cables called patch cables it’s easy to connect each port of the patch panel to the corresponding port on a switch for example.
With a patch panel, you can also easily know which device is being disconnected from the network at any one time so it’s easier to perform a change on your network without risking the accidental disconnection of something critical like a backup batch for example.
2. EXTEND THE LIFE OF YOUR NETWORK AND REDUCE MAINTENANCE COSTS
When network cables are installed the technician needs to manually “terminate the cable”.
Terminating a cable is the process by which the technician connects the cable inner wires to a patch panel, a faceplate or a simple network jack.
Without a patch panel, the cables are terminated with simple “crimp-on” network jacks.
These jacks are more fragile than the jack that comes with premade cables where they are encased in molded plastic and kept immobile.
Without a patch panel, each of these cables needs to be bent and twisted to connect them to a switch port.
The more you connect, disconnect and reconnect those handmade cables the more you wear them down increasing the risk of damaging the cables inner connections to the jack.
A single service call to repair a defective jack will most likely cost more than the cost of a patch panel.
With a patch panel, the cables are terminated directly in the patch panel and they do not move afterward providing a very stable connection for years to come reducing your maintenance cost.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PATCH PANEL
It’s important to select a patch panel that won’t act as a bottleneck slowing down your network.
Since a patch panel features ports (connectors) it’s important to select a patch panel matching the bandwidth of the type of cable you are installing.
For example, installing a Cat5e patch panel with Cat 6 cables can significantly reduce your network bandwidth and also impact the distance over which PoE can be used on your network.
EVERY NETWORK SHOULD HAVE A PATCH PANEL
Installing a patch panel is always a good idea and it’s a great investment that will prolong the life of your network, increase its performance and eliminate costly service calls down the road.
If you’re looking for help to clean up your IT room and need a patch panel installation contact us to get a free quote today.