by May 1, 2009 0 comments

Deploying structured cabling is not only about buying UTP cables and laying
them across the building. There’s much more to it than that. The biggest
challenge is not deciding whether you need fibre or copper, rather it’s about
how you can manage the web of bulk fibre and copper spanning your network. In
this buying guide, we are going to talk not only about how you can choose
between different cable types, but we will cover some new and smarter ways of
structured cabling, and will also look into some software that can help you keep
your cabling healthy.

Direct Hit!

Applies To: CIOs, network admins
USP: Learn how to choose between different cable types
Primary Link: None
Google Keywords: Unified cabling, intelligent cabling

Intelligent Cabling
Till recently, there was no specific way to figure out a broken link on a
near real-time basis. With the advent of Intelligent cabling, this problem seems
to be getting resolved. In an intelligent network setup, the systems can
automatically find out devices connected with the physical layer and can link
them with connectivity changes, and also track device locations. Essentially in
an intelligent cabling setup, the specialized ports, patch panels and outlets
work like sensors and can be managed through a software over SNMP or some other
similar protocol. So in an intelligent cabling setup, you are essentially SNMP
enabling the physical layer devices. With intelligent cabling, a person can get
a logical view of the entire network.

Such cabling also enables automated and secure documentation of the network
layer. It provides security as it can identify unauthorized modifications on a
realtime basis and can generate alerts automatically. Some prominent players in
intelligent cabling in India are Digi-Link (through RiT), Panduit, Tyco, etc.

Unified Cabling
There is a general tendency in the industry to have separate structured
cabling for different types of networks. We want to have a separate network
(mostly FO) for our storage networks, an Ethernet 10G network for server to
server connectivity, and a separate network for RealTime protocols which are
used for communication (Audio and Video) over IP.

This might be good for getting better performance but is quite expensive.
That’s why the industry is talking about migrating to an infrastructure which
has a single cabling architecture running throughout the entire building. The
approach is actually pretty simple. While constructing the entire building you
go with the best possible cable selection, let’s say Cat 6A for that matter. Now
achieveing speed from 10Mbps to 10Gbps is in your limits. All you need to do is
deploy the right terminating device at the end and you get the required speed
for that device. For the converging communication media which uses real time
protocols, you can get smart switching devices which are available from all
renowned network device vendors, and can differentiate between normal packets
and RTP packets and set the priority based on it. This helps in making the
communication experience better.

Cable inventory management
Sounds interesting, right? We might not realize but the fact is when there
is a problem we spend a lot of time in finding the problem and then fixing it.
This simply causes wastage of time and resources.

We can maintain a record of the equipment, cables, pathways, and asset
information for the cable plant, and define the connectivity and circuit routes.
And using that information to plan and manage the moves, adds, and changes will
be a great time and resource safer for us. We found a similar tool which lets
you do that. It is called UltiCAM. You can get the software from

UltiCAM is a software which can simplify the regular task of maintaining and
managing the physical layer details for any network. This software can record
the structure connectivity for any type of inside or outside cable plant
including horizontal and backbone cables (copper or fibre), structured cabling,
hardware, assets, pathways, locations, and users.

The management of information stored in UltiCAM can be updated by revisions
and additions of the layout. Let’s say, if a patch panel connection is changed,
then the circuit and related equipment and cable connections are immediately
updated in the system. UltiCAM can display the circuit information in graphic
schematics. These schematics are detailed representations and are automatically
generated by UltiCAM.

It won’t be a real help if you get an alert which says, the Ethernet cable
connected to machine has gone bad. The biggest problem which admin
faces while trouble shooting cabling errors is finding the right cable. If you
don’t have an intelligent cabling deployed it becomes very difficult to pinpoint
the error location. The only thing which can help is an elaborated network
diagram or map. But one bigger challenge is awaiting here. Making such a
elaborated map is not a kids play and takes a lot of human hours. Secondly, in
today’s dynamic infrastructure setup, updating this map regularly, for let’s say
1000 node network becomes near impossible. Just imagine all your 1000 nodes get
a new IP everyday from the DHCP and your network diagram needs updating.

Using this tool,
you can keep an eye on all the inventory of your structured cabling and the
endpoints connected to it.
Once you scan your
network with LANSurveyor, it creates a map of your network with all devices
and links.

To make mapping process automated, you have this kind software. It’s not a
cheap deal. You have to spend some 40,000 INR to get a licensed copy of this
application. Once you use it you will start loving it.

This is the only software to my knowledge available today which gives you a
true map (even exportable to Visio) of your network including cable links, patch
cord details connection specific ports and machines, etc. And the beauty is
that, one can set alerts on not only devices such as PCs, switches, routers,
etc, but can also set alerts to cable connections connecting two devices.

In case of a cable failure, you will get an error which will not only tell
you which IP has got disconnected but will also tell you the port of the switch
connection and the machines which were connected through that particular patch

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