Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cataloging parts for the move

One of the many bits of detail the colocation we're moving into wants to have on file are serial numbers for all the equipment. That's fine, and I need those numbers for my own record keeping. I figured while I was going around, I would double check that everything was labeled and accounted for.

I use a Brother P-Touch, like this one:

I like this over a lot of other models, because the tape backing is split down the middle, as opposed to having to try to bend a corner and get your fingernail between the sticker and the backing. This is much easier.

The one bad thing is that it wastes a lot of tape. I mean, a lot. There's a good inch on each side of the printed text where the tape is completely unused.

To get around this, I always make sure to print multiple labels at the same time. If I'm printing the lables "bs-1001" through "bs-1010", I type them all at once, with a couple of spaces in-between. This eliminates the 2 inches of wasted space. I just cut them apart with scissors before I peel the backing off.

You've got to be careful in the server room, because these little bits of paper float away. Or get sucked into the fan intake on the front of rackmount cases.

Anyway, I'm going to be labeling all the ethernet cables for the switches. Thanks to the blade form factor, there aren't many power cables, but the ones I do have are going to get labeled. The front and back of the two rackmount servers are getting labeled with the assigned internal part numbers to track them, and so will the other various bits that have escaped my efforts thus far.

It's important to document this while you're doing it, too. In this case, especially, since the on-site colo personnel is going to be doing the actual install. In my mind, I'll have a lounge chair somewhere near the server rack, and a tropical drink complete with little umbrella in my hand, while I occasionally bark orders at the peons who have to lug and lift the equipment. Somehow I doubt real life will be remotely like this.

Unless I provide those people with a proper map on how to install my stuff, it's hard to tell what I'll end up with. In the future, I hope to have another admin to work with, and when I send them to the colo to do work, I'd like them to be a little bit prepared for what he's up against.

I'm sure there's a great way to diagram cables, but I don't have enough experience with Visio yet to use that, and to be completely honest, the line connections on OmniGraffle are miserable. Anyone have an idiots-guide-to-visio suggestion?

Here's the link to the Brother labeler at Tiger Direct. I figured I should link to them since I borrowed their picture.