1. Always install racks from bottom to top. This way, you're not fighting the elements you've already installed.

  2. Have a variety of plastic bins, tubs, and plastic bags for collecting pieces. Cardboard is dusty, and should be kept out of data centers. Have at least one cart available to move devices, accessories, and parts from the staging area to the data center.

  3. Unpack, identify, and stage everything before installing anything.

  4. Verify all appropriate power, network, FC SAN, etc., connecting cables are available in sufficient numbers. One easy way is to place all needed accessories with their devices during staging.

  5. Verify your, say, 19" wide by 28" deep racking space is really 19" wide and 28" deep. Make sure your front and back frames are far enough apart for your shortest rails to attach.

  6. Install all mounting frames and rails before installing any actual computer hardware.

  7. Use the shortest practical cable length for all power and communications cables. Don't use a 5m cable where a 2m cable will do. If necessary, stock a large selection. This applies to power cords, too. Using a 12 foot power cord for a 4 foot run leaves a bunch of power cord that needs to be tied up.

  8. Staging is a good time to determine which devices, computers, cords and cables need labeling and to get that labeling done. Devices are generally labeled with their name. In large installations, consider including the rack and slot identifiers on the label. For cords and cables, the labeling scheme is very dependent on what computing hardware is getting installed and where the endpoints of a given cable are going to attach. I have no objection to mixing labeling schemes in a given installation, if necessary. The guiding principle should be whether or not a complete stranger could open up your racks in two years and figure out how the cables are arranged. More intuitive is better.

  9. Install the individual hardware elements one at at time. Cable the devices as you go. If you have cable management hardware, use it. Cable management hardware gives a much cleaner, more impressive rack. As the devices get cabled, temporarily hang the free cable ends over the door or along the floor, out of the way. Remember to install from bottom to top.

  10. Disk storage arrays and blade container boxes (IBM Blade Center H, etc.) go at the bottom of a rack. If you have both, try to use separate racks.

  11. Tape devices go in the middle of the rack, preferably the same rack as the storage devices. Tape devices at the bottom or top of a rack make tape management a problem, due to squatting or reaching.

  12. "Pizza boxes," 1U and 2U computers, can go anywhere. Install them one at a time, bottom to top. Cable the the device ends as you go. You'll connect the free ends and cable tie offs after the hardware is installed.

  13. Networking equipment goes on the top of the rack, even if the data center connection is coming out of the floor. That DC connection will be made early in the installation and is unlikely to change. On the other hand, you're going have tens or hundreds of connections to make to these devices. You don't want to have to get down on your knees for each of them. Networking devices don't generally get installed with networking cables. Instead, they'll get the free ends of all the other devices when you get to the cable tie-off phase.

  14. Connect all power cables to source, and tie them back neatly. This can be difficult, because power should be tied next to the walls of the rack, with communication connections on top of them.

  15. Connect all fiber channel cables point-to-point, and tie them back neatly.

  16. Connect all network cables point-to-point, and tie them back neatly. Lay them over the fiber channel cables as needed. (The assumption is that network cables will be adjusted more often than fiber channel will, and both will need to be adjusted more often than power will.)

  17. I don't like single-use zipties/tiewrap. Making a mistake requires wasting a ziptie. This gets irritating in a hurry. Instead, I use velcro, reusable zipties, or wire ties. Velcro is generally my favorite, but it won't fit through small holes well. In those situations, I'll use a reusable ziptie unless the long tail would get in the way. In that case, I'll grab a bit of wire tie from another cable, and use that to tie back a cable or cord.