Why do rack switches have their ports on the front?

Solution 1:

Switches need to be reverse mounted (ie, their ports should face the same way that the server ports do, toward the back of the rack).

Also, maybe you can get some use from this: http://www.standalone-sysadmin.com/blog/2008/06/howto-racks-and-rackmounting/

Solution 2:

Because typically, networking gear goes into its own racks, and servers go into their own racks. The network rack will often have patch panels in it, also on the front, so that the cables all just go into cable management - on the side of the racks and/or across the front of the racks.

Solution 3:

You would normally have your switches matched up with patch panels, so wherever your patch panels are, your switches will be near. When plugging in ports, it is useful to see the status LED as you plug it in to confirm connection. They also stick the serial management port in the front also for easy access. They stick the switch daisy chain connections (at least older ones always seem to do) and power/redundant power on the back as those do not get accessed often.

Easiest way to manage is to get the rack wire management plates and stick them between every switch or every other switch to help keep cables in order. A great example of this gone bad is the server fault error page. I remember I got to clean up a mess like that once at an old job. Took hours to install new cable and patch panel organization after years of neglect after each technician, but it was much easier to manage after that point.

Also, if you got a few bucks, buy lots of various lengths of cables to keep your cable management sanity. Using 10ft cables for every port that is 12 inches away to 9 ft away just turns into lots of extra cable hanging and filling up wire management space.

I am not endorsing belkin products, but these are good examples of some of the different styles available. http://shopping.yahoo.com/s:More%20Computer%20Accessories:3141-Accessory%20Type=Rack%20cable%20management%20kit%20%28horizontal%29:4168-Brand=Belkin

Solution 4:

This is an old post, but the "why" never was answered. I just hate dangling questions ;-)

The reason is most environments (think business office rather than server closet) use switch ports primarily connected to patch pannels. These, of course, run to office / cubes. Very often all wall ports in a building are not live, but will be connected based on need. By having both the switch ports and the patch panel ports facing front, making changes as people move is easier than reaching into the back of the rack.

The same holds true for large data centers, where primary switches will be centralized with distribution out to individual servers or network equipment housed in racks throughout facility. Again, easier to change as needed by having everything front facing.

In server closets, individual or small cluster of racks, as has already been mentioned, people will sometimes choose to mount the equipment reversed. This is fully supported by the manufacturers who generally place mounting holes for ears both front and back.

I have also seen the server/equipment switches mounted reverse with distribution mounted standard.

Solution 5:

We place all of our switches and firewalls facing the back of the rack. It cuts down on the blinking lights up front, but makes cable management easier. I never really thought about why they are like this, but I would love to know why if anyone else can add some insight.