2013-08-26 08:23:00 - Retrofittable Intelligent Infrastructure Management solutions will help solve cable management in rapidly expanding data centers
Author: Shibu Vahid, Head of Technical Operations, R&M Middle East, Turkey & Africa
Structured cabling has long been the often overlooked though critically important component of modern IT networks. Key to high-performance, reliable and innovation-enabling connectivity, networks have growing increasingly complex in scale, speed, technology and utilization and yet they remain a regular point of failure. The passive infrastructure, or structured cabling, invariably accounts for up to 50% of network issues. And while most problems can be easily remedied, years of adhering to archaic management and administration processes has exponentially increased the difficulty of doing so.
In many installations, inventory and management of physical infrastructure is done with “on-board tools” such as Excel spreadsheets and Visio graphics. Sometimes, even paper, pencil and
post-it notes are used. Network administrators quickly reach the limits of their capabilities if they try to apply these methods to large data centers or complex building cabling systems. Incorrect, out-of-date and unreliable documentation make changes to the infrastructure something like walking a tightrope without a safety net. Sensible expansion plans and risk analysis are simply impossible. Added to this are the legal and compliance requirements concerning data security, commercial practice and availability. There is no doubt that a modern approach to cable management is now more important than ever!
Ready, ‘AIM’, Fire
The purpose of an Automated Infrastructure Management (AIM) solution, sometimes referred to as an Intelligent Infrastructure Management (IIM) solution, is to facilitate the management of the passive infrastructure in the future. In an AIM system, the entire infrastructure is represented in a consistent database, a single “source of truth”. This database provides precise and real time information on the current state and future requirements of the data center.
AIM is intended to optimize the business process of an organization from an IT infrastructure perspective. It eliminates stranded capacity, facilitates end-to-end analysis and agile infrastructure management and aids predictive analysis and dynamic infrastructure. Since in an AIM system the entire infrastructure is represented in a consistent database, inquiries into resources such as server ports, space in cabinets as well as energy requirements and cooling capacity are quick and easy to answer precisely with this database. Improved capacity utilization of the existing infrastructure as well as the simple and exact planning of changes and expansions are immediate advantages of AIM systems.
Not only this, these solutions vastly improve the efficiency of operation and administration and can result in reduction of downtime by 30 to 50 percent. During incident management, AIM solutions can reduce the resolution time, thereby providing the potential for significant savings in terms of both IT resources and lost business output.
‘AIM’ for Innovation
The data from the system could also be used to create useful reports for financial budgeting and inventory of IT infrastructure. Strategic IT expansion forecast questions could be easily predicted based on the reliable statistics and reports generated out of the system. The system could also aid IT managers as a planning tool to simulate the future expansion of network, thus allowing them to better estimating the bill for materials required for implementing the project. Once the project is realized as per the planned layout, it could then be monitored and administered.
The system software can seamlessly integrate and synchronize with other customer-owned automated building/facility infrastructure management or data center environment monitoring as well as security management systems. Everything could then be monitored and administered from a common dashboard.
As a general piece of advice, a company should understand the business requirements it hopes to meet though the implementation of such a system. These include infrastructure and environment related considerations, future growth plans and the expectations from having such an infrastructure management system.
With AIM, the choice of technology and system is very important as it could either raise limitations or could facilitate options for expansion. The system configurations need to be done wisely with the help of template-based modeling with an intuitive user interface. Open architecture systems are recommended for easy integration with third party systems. Contactless data acquisition with no influence on data transmission is a preferable solution, as it does not violate well established cabling standards for connecting hardware and therefore presents a neutral and viable solution for any future transmission upgrade requirements.
Addressing Cost Concerns
Cost and complexity of implementing AIM over an existing infrastructure may post a challenge to many organizations since this entails revamping designs, replacing the investments on cabling solutions, down time issues and business continuity. Companies should therefore look for solutions which take this into account at the time of design. Some leading vendors have ensured that their solutions are retrofittable on existing non-intelligent networks with minimal effort. This allows compatibility with standard installed cabling products with no requirement of replacements with special panels or cords, and even without disconnecting active users.
Automated Infrastructure Management is no doubt set to be the much needed revolution for the cabling industry. Realizing the benefits and investing in the right solutions will ensure not only the future readiness of the network but will also help organizations maximize their current cabling investments.
About Reichle & De-Massari (R&M)
Reichle & De-Massari AG (R&M, www.rdm.com) develops and manufactures passive cabling solutions for communication networks. With high-quality copper and fiber optic cable products, R&M has gained the reputation of a leader in quality. The company has established its own marketing organizations in 30 countries, grouped into eight sales regions. R&M achieves around two thirds of its sales abroad. Sales in 2012 totaled CHF 183.6 million; EBIT was 0.2% of sales. Every year the company invests 5% of sales in research and development. R&M is one of the 500 largest companies in Switzerland and currently has a workforce of over 700 employees. The company is wholly owned by the Reichle family and is run as an independent family-owned company.
More information is available at www.rdm.com