Sunday, 7 December 2014

DataCenter 101 - Labeling Your DataCenter

      Labeling of the data center is as important as Cabling in DataCenter, since deploying a DataCenter may be easy, however troubleshooting it can be a mess when you need to track the cables. A Label gives the information about the equipment. So lets discuss some points to remember about Labeling:

·      A Label should always have a clear font with bright background to make it readable.
·      Always make 2 labels for the equipment, so that it can be pasted on both rear & front side of the equipment, where one on of them should be pasted near its management port.
·      During cable connectivity between equipment, label the cable immediately on both ends, to avoid future hassle. Doing Labeling after deployment can be tedious and may require double effort in bigger infrastructure.
·      Labeling a cable (Power, LAN, FC, FCoE, FC ISL, LAN Uplinks) can be done before deploying the cable as well if location of the other equipment is too far. You can mention the equipment’s location along with other details over the label.
·      Hostname of the equipment (fixed) like of Switches, can be made in a format where we can track its location as well. This can help tracking switch in datacenter, rather maintaining a separate inventory for switch location.

Special Format Tips
For Blade enclosure, mention its Hostname and Management IP in its label. Create two labels, so that it can be posted in both rear & front side of blade enclosure, which can help anyone to track the equipment.

·      Labels of cables going from a switch should point to the other end of the cable. In this scenario, always put two labels on each side of cable, one label should mention the device its connected to (switch name, IP), other should mention the location/port number# in the switch. The more details you will provide, the more easy it will be for anyone to walk-in datacenter & perform troubleshooting in case of any issues.
·      Label for a power socket should point to its respective transformer/phase say TXXPXX
·      Label for Storage should have its name, management IP and its WWN. All ports in storage should be labeled properly pointing to its target switch IP/Port as well. Cable labels can be in format of say SN-IP-PRT e.g. S30P24ISL, where it points to Switch30 Port 24, and it also says it’s a “ISL” port for FC. In case of Storage roles of a port can be “Mgmt”, “Host port”, “Disk Port” or “Remote Copy” and even “Misc” based on services available in array.

A question might arise in mind that why do I need label since every equipment has its own serial number pasted over it. Well, as per my experience, it would be really difficult when you have to track server by its serial number specially in a time of crisis or server failure, which need to be troubleshoot locally or physically. You can keep a record where it shows you the location of server as its Floor#-Row#-Rack# e.g. 02F2407, however a rack may have many other equipment of equipment with same kind of configuration, look and feel. To keep things easy, its always good to have a label, so that whenever you have any issue, you can look into your database or records (can be an excel sheet), go to the location of the rack and looking at the label without wasting time searching a serial number, you can start your work.

Special Label
·      You can post “warnings” on server playing vital roles in datacenter or which are very critical as per its role internally or for the customer. You can also mention its “role” is required. These kind of labels are very handy especially when you are working in a R&D environment or Labs, where a user might be required to walk-in lab or perform some tasks as per project requirements.
·      You might be required to paste the “asset tag” bar code on the equipment as well.
·     You can even post a printout of the visio/logical architecture of connectivity in between equipment or keep it handy so that it would be easy to track the point of failure and resolve the issue ASAP.
·   In case of small project, a project can keep a visio diagram which shows the exact connectivity in data center for their equipment, which will have its port, IP, uplink, location etc mentioned in the diagram itself along with OS and other minute information like firmware versions as well. This can be helpful for R&D Labs or environments.

Pasting the Labels
·      Labels should be pasted on equipment where its visible and clear
·    While pasting the label on an equipment, one of the two label should be pasted near its management port.
·      Paste label on both rear & front side of the equipment.
·     For cables, pasting a label is tricky and should be done with Caution. If it’s a LAN Cable, Patch Cord or Power cable, it can be pasted completely along its length.

    Special Note:
·    You can use special equipment like label printing machines or also called as Label Printer, which gives you neat, laminated, formatted labels. Sizes available for labels can be 12MM & 24MM, however Color of the label may vary from vendor to vendor. You may Google it to see how it looks in case you haven’t seen one.
·      Usually most preferred colors are “White” & “Yellow” base with Black Ink.
·    12MM is used for cables, Switches, Rack mount server of space using up to 1U/2U, while 24MM will be used for equipment like Blade enclosure, Storage arrays etc, wherever we have equipment which consume space more than or equal to 4-8U.
·     You can also use Cable Numeric Markers for Patch Cord cables (see picture attached)
·     Keep the overview of data center handy. You can create Visio diagrams of each rack with its location and show exact or logical connectivity of equipment inside it. You can even mention about ISL/Uplinks going from or to the rack. 

 Any more questions? please write back or comment here. There are more things to share.. 

Request you to join my group on Facebook & LinkedIN with name "DataCenterPro" to get regular updates. I am also available on Tweeter as @_anubhavjain. Shortly I am going to launch my own YouTube channel for free training videos on different technologies as well. 

Happy Learning!!

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