Cable Management Software is essential for any organisation and is part of a configuration repository.
In theorie: Everything is documented and up to date with a minimum of effort. Everyone who needs acces will have a real time view of the configuration. Projects (that will claim resources) are visible in the system as reserved (space).
In practice: In a large organisation, every local administrator probably will have his own set of documentation (spreadsheets and diagrams). Normally a set of spreadsheets and Microsoft Visio diagrams will be used to document the physical and connectivity environment. Keeping track of the equipment, cables and patches is a pretty boring and labor intensive job. As a result this area is generally not very well maintained. As a result the 19 inch cabinets can look like the picture below.
Cable Management is directly related to:
- What device port is connected to (other port or device).
- Unique enterprise cable numbering (every path cable is unique).
- The position of devices in a 19 inch rack
- The racks in all the data centers and equipment rooms.
- The existing capacity of a rack
- The documentation (as it is now) of cables, racks and position of the racks in a Data Center of equipment room (online and multi-user)
- Integration with existing monitoring systems.
- It relates to: asset, change, capacity, energy, power and problem management
- Projects: Impact analysis, Risk analysis
Normally this set of management that focuses on cables, devices, racks, power, etc. is called Data Center Infrastructure Management or DCIM. More on DCIM later
Possible problems if you do not have Cable Management Software
If you do not use a cable management software tool. Depending on your existing situation you can run into several issues when an environment is not documented very well.
Possible issues are:
- For every (migration)project you have to gather information and possibly do some site survey’s (time consuming and will delay projects)
- Lack of capacity management can result in: suddenly the number of ports are not sufficient, rack is full etc.
- Old / unused equipment will stay powered on and connected (consuming energy and rack space, also interacts with other systems and can cause problems)
- Availability and Performance issues as a result of unplugging devices and cables that are critical
- A lot of work keeping the documentation up to date (spread sheets and visio diagrams)
The architecture of cable management
If you want a system that brings value to the organisation, the system should be flexible and scalable. Cable Management is just a part of the IT configuration repository.
Cabling is part of the Configuration Repository. We will discuss this in a separate Article.
The documentation should be something that is suited for the target audience. Documentation (including visio diagrams) should be generated based on the information that is needed.
Requirement for cable management software?
Requirement 01: Flexibility in the way we set up the system. I.e. the system should not limit the extension of usage. If not only want cable management software, we would like to add more with it than just cables. We would like to relate it directly to asset and configuration management. We need to add devices (active and passive). This includes:
- Active devices (Routers, Switches, Servers, Wireless Access Points, FireWalls and more)
- Passive equipment (Cables, patch panels, 19 inch Racks, PowerStrips, PDU, UPS and more)
Requirement 02: Easy integration with existing Monitoring systems.
- From a monitoring system (e.g. SolarWinds, PRTG) it should be possible to access the details of a device (physical config, location, position)
- From the documentation configuration repository it should be possible to link directly to several monitoring systems
Requirement 03:User Access
- The system should be multi-user so other people can view(confiugration) information
- Granular user access (limit)
Requirement 04: Document repository
- Generation of Visio diagrams (flexibility of what should be included and excluded)
- Generation of Rack diagrams
- Generation of floor plans (the racks on a floor / in a data center)
Requirement 05: Automation
- Network Mapping (how is everything connected)