Closet cleanup, cabinet replacement

IT Closet Cleanup Guide

The cleanup of an IT closet can be quite cumbersome; therefore, you may be asking yourself where do I start?


The best place to start is to identify the closets that need cleanup. For example, gather a list of closets that you want to address as this will help you understand how big of a task this may be. Starting with the MDF (Main Distribution Frame) as it usually is the most important closet that houses your head end network equipment.

Important questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the room climate controlled? If so, can you monitor the temperature in the room?
  • Is there a need to add any vertical or horizontal wire managers?
  • Are the patch cables you currently have, the correct length or color?
  • Do you have cable patching matrix for all existing connections?
  • Do you have a rack elevation of each rack and documentation of all networking equipment?
  • What time of the day would you most likely have approval to avoid disruption to end users?
  • Is any of your networking equipment due for an upgrade?

Before you start removing those old patch cables it is very important to create a patching matrix for all existing connections. This is important especially, if you have multiple VLANs (Virtual Local Area Network) across your stack of switches. Therefore, we recommend tracing all patch connections from patch panel ports to switch ports. This will simplify the process when patching and subsequently for any future work in the closet.

During the documentation and cable tracing it would be a great time to identify quantity and length of patch cables required for the cleanup. When it comes to patch cables there are many different category ratings, colors and sizes. Recently, we started using Slim Run patch cables. Using a slim run patch cables allows you to have the same category rating but it’s 1/3 of the size of conventional CAT5e or CAT6a patch cables.

Documentation and Cable Tracing

In addition, how is your wire management looking? Typically, there should be horizontal wire management between each switch and patch panel as well as vertical wire management to get from patch panel ports to switch ports. Using Slim Run patch cables allows you to use 1U wire management instead of the typical 2U wire managers. Additionally, this will allow you to free up space in your network rack or cabinet. Essentially, having proper wire management is key to an organized and clean closet.

Is your equipment due for an upgrade?

Are your network switches due for an upgrade? Ultimately, if you are thinking about upgrading your network equipment the perfect time would be during a closet cleanup. Completing the equipment upgrade and closet cleanup at the same time, will only require one outage and one visit from technicians.

If you are leaning toward upgrading your equipment after a closet cleanup, there are a few things you should consider:

  • Another outage will be required.
  • All patch cables will need to be labeled and removed from switch ports
  • All old equipment will need to be removed
  • New equipment would need to be installed
  • All patch cables would need to be patched in
  • Testing would need to be performed to ensure all devices are back online

During the cable clean-up, 4 out of 6 of the above tasks will already be taking place. Therefore, in the case that you decide not to upgrade equipment during the cable cleanup you may find yourself paying for labor twice.

Executing Closet Cleanup

Once you have identified your closets, documented your connections, and have procured all the materials, it is now time to schedule your closet cleanup. Scheduling during a time when the network is not being used is very important. Ideally, you want to plan for an outage anywhere from 4-8 hours depending on the size of the closet. Please keep in mind, working on one closet at a time allows you to focus on a specific area. The goal is to ensure the closet is back online and functional in the slotted timeframe.

Having the proper team is very important. Depending on the size of the closet you may need up to 3 technicians onsite. It may seem like an easy process to clean up the closet but there are many tasks that need to be accomplished. These tasks include, opening up patch cables and striating them out, removal of old patch cables, installing any wire management, removing/replacing any new hardware and patching new patch cables according to the patching matrix.

Ideally, after the cable cleanup has been completed you want to ensure that you have a team to test devices that would be connected to the closet. For example, if a device is unpatched from the network it may need to be rebooted. The last thing you want is a end-user saying their device is not working.

netRelevance is Here to Help

Although this may seem like a time-consuming process, netRelevance is here to assist you every step of the way. No job is too big or too small and with our national coverage and cleanup methodology we are sure you will find value with our cable cleanup services.

Let us handle I.T

Your netRelevance professional is ready to provide additional information or assist in scheduling your Network Closet Clean-Up.