CABLE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

Cable management systems (CMSs) are software applications that you can use from a personal computer to implement, manage and maintain structured cabling systems for copper, fiber-optic or coaxial-cable networks. Programs range from basic databases to more expensive, complex, graphical applications. In addition, a more-advanced technology combines hardware -- an "intelligent" crossconnect switch in the wiring closet -- with the applications software to manage moves, adds and changes to the physic

Barbara E. Thompson

Associate Editor

barbarat@pennwell.com

Cable management systems (CMSs) are software applications that you can use from a personal computer to implement, manage and maintain structured cabling systems for copper, fiber-optic or coaxial-cable networks. Programs range from basic databases to more expensive, complex, graphical applications. In addition, a more-advanced technology combines hardware -- an "intelligent" crossconnect switch in the wiring closet -- with the applications software to manage moves, adds and changes to the physical layer of the network -- all from your PC.

If the CMS includes a computer-aided design (CAD) application, you can download floor plans, drawings and photographs to your computer, and then view the physical layout, routing and location of all the telecommunications closets, cables, connectors, outlets and individual fiber assignments in the cable. More-sophisticated CMSs also update the documentation after the changes are complete, so records are always up-to-date.

These systems can help you manage the documentation, labeling, records, drawings, work orders, reports and other administrative functions required as part of the life cycle of the ever-changing cabling plant. Accurate documentation and records can also be invaluable for disaster-recovery and planning.

This Special Report begins with an article from Anixter`s Frank Coletto, who discusses planning your cable management strategy, the costs involved in implementing the CMS and considerations for prospective users. Larry Tivy from Asset Sentinel Inc. suggests you let your contractor document the cabling, connections and any changes to the installation, as he or she completes the task. According to William Spencer, Network & Communication Technology Inc., many requests-for-proposals (RFPs) for new cabling projects now incorporate CMS requirements. He suggests ways to define objectives, implementation, type of system, documentation, project scope and costs.

By combining the software with a crossconnect switch, says Stéphane Namoko, NHC Communications Inc., you put "intelligence" in the physical layer of the cabling infrastructure. The administrator makes changes with a click of the mouse, and the physical connections in the network are automatically reconfigured by the switch.

Advance Fiber Optics` data-modeling and data-management software package for fiber-optic networks was developed for a project that required documenting six existing fiber-optic networks, says Randall Anderson. This application provides the user with CAD drawings, a relational database and desktop mapping.

The last article in our Special Report is a case study of the implementation of an integrated CMS at the University of Michigan`s premises network system, which runs over three campuses and 456 buildings. Rush Jeffrey, Telco Research Corp., describes this marathon project step-by-step.

We hope that these articles will give you some idea about the different types of software available and the benefits of using them to protect your infrastructure -- a valuable asset.

- Invest in the management of your cabling records

- Let your contractor document your installation

- Define end-user and contractor needs when implementing a CMS

- Integrating and controlling an "intelligent" crossconnect switch

- Manage your fiber-optic network using software

- Implementing an integrated cable management system

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