Tame SAN cable trouble

Compared to some other forms of cable, the fiber-optic cable used in many SANs is remarkably trouble-free. It is tough and free of the cross-talk and interference problems that can haunt copper cabling. However there are still things to watch for when installing SAN cabling.

First, make sure you label all cables as you install them. You'll thank yourself later.

Next, use consistent naming conventions on all your cables. You can use codes, descriptive phrases or even -- as one installer did -- the names of the Apostles. But have a naming system and stick with it.

Avoid practices that can break cables. Fiber-optic cable is tough, not indestructible. Among the common causes of broken cables are pulling cables too tight, bending them too sharply, leaving cables on the floor where people can kick them or trip over them, not using duck caps and not providing strain relief.

Finally, make sure your connections are clean. Fiber-optic connections depend on a microscopically exact match between cables and other components. Even a speck of dust in the connector can play hob with your bandwidth.

IBM discusses cabling issues for SANs at:

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Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

This was first published in September 2002

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