As we know, patch panel is a passive device with a number of ports. It’s a cable management tool that most frequently used, typically in a data center. However, for some people, they are still confused about the function of patch panel, and post questions on forum such as what is the purpose of patch panel in networking, why not connect end device directly to switch? This article will help you find the answer.
How Patch Panel Works
Patch panels work in different ways due to the two types, fiber patch panel and copper patch panel. Usually, fiber patch panel is designed with ports both on the front and rear sides. Just insert the corresponding fiber cables into the ports, then you can achieve a neat cable management.
Unlike the fiber patch panel, copper patch panel is divided into feed-through and punch down types. The feed-through panel contains RJ45 ports on two sides, which is convenient for users to plug the cables. And the punch down panel is equipped with Rj45 ports on the front side and punch down terminations and color coding on the rear side. Each set of punch down terminations corresponds to a port on the front side. So you have to terminate all cables into the patch panel first.
Main Function of Patch Panel
As a cable management tool, the primary benefit of using patch panel is the improved organization and easier management of your network. But how? As the figure 3 shows, a patch panel is usually installed within a server rack. And you may encounter many or even thousands of fiber optic cables and cable connection. Using a patch panel, you can label the patch panel, so that you know which end device or room the cable run goes to. This will be helpful when you need to make changes on the cables.
Also, we can see that all cables on the server rack have a bend radius (a term used to describe how sharply a cable can safely bend at any given point). If the fibers bent beyond the minimum bend diameters may lead to break, causing network failures. Therefore, using a patch panel, the cables bend radius will be reduced, which can enhance the cables’ long term reliability.
As described above, we have learned the main function of patch panel is to provide a robust, reliable management solution and protect the cables. It doesn’t have any electrical or logical function like the network switch or router. Patch panel is solely a physical connection, which means patch panel can’t replace a switch or a router.