Cloudy with a chance of being big

As a self-proclaimed cynic who has used this space on occasion to get snarky about certain environmental initiatives, politicians, and exhibitions at trade shows ...

From the April, 2014 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

By Patrick McLaughlin

As a self-proclaimed cynic who has used this space on occasion to get snarky about certain environmental initiatives, politicians, and exhibitions at trade shows, it feels to me like I'm gushing when I share that something impresses me. In that vein, I guess this month's column is a gushfest.

Since last fall, my attitude has gone from, "Huh?" to "Hmm" to "Heyyy" about the idea of cabling-test data being stored not on the test device, but in a cloud-based storage system. The article on pages 29 and 30 of this issue takes a brief look at the idea and touches on the offerings of three test-equipment companies that are doing something about it. This column is kind of a backstory to that article.

It was at the BICSI Fall Conference in September that I (and many others) first saw and heard the concept developed by Wow Insites and brought to bear with their testing system, Wow Clowd. At BICSI's Winter Conference, I had the opportunity to get a little more up-close not just to the product, but also to its developers.

More recently, I was fortunate enough to get a sneak-peek look at the new, cloud-based test tool just introduced by Fluke Networks.

In describing the benefits of their respective platforms, both organizations made reference to wearable technology. For me, that term means FitBit, the bracelet/watch-type device that tracks my steps and whose online (i.e., cloud-based) tracking data lets me know every single day that I don't get enough exercise.

In much the same way that my FitBit dashboard sometimes shames me into going for a jog or brisk walk, the cloud-stored test results (good, bad or indifferent; i.e. green, red or yellow) are there to motivate the stakeholders in an installation. Whether the motivation is to fix a problem, write a check, or anything in between, here's what I like about the concept: Once I've taken whatever number of steps in a day, I'll never have to go back and count those steps again. Likewise, with cloud-stored test results, once the test is conducted, the results are safe. They might not be the results you want, and someone might have to reterminate a link. But you won't have to conduct the test again (or the tests on the other 75 links in the same building) because they got lost in transit.

When I looked at cloud-based test-result storage in more detail I learned that JDSU has had the capability for more than a year. Huh? Hmm. Heyyy.

So yes, I believe there is something to this concept. Of course, I'd love to hear what you think.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com


Clarification: Patch-cord perils

In our February issue we published an article authored by Fiber Optic Association president Jim Hayes, titled "Optical LANs: What contractors need to know." The article included three real-world examples of optical LAN, or passive optical LAN, deployments.

In one such example, Hayes explained that TE Connectivity's Lightcrimp connectors were used as part of the fiber infrastructure at the San Diego Central Library. In describing that project, Hayes also stated, "Many patch cords purchased to connect the ONTs were bad and had to be returned." Several readers have asked whether or not the bad patch cords were TE Connectivity products. They were not.

In hindsight I see how logical it is to infer that they were supplied by TE Connectivity, and I regret not editing that portion of the article to make it clearer.

Hayes's comment to me when we corresponded about the article rings very true: "Cleaning is a problem, even with good patch cords. Handling patch cords is a possible article topic." I promise, an article on fiber patch cords will be cleanly edited, too. -P.M.

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