Know what you have

Feb. 23, 2018
Intelligent physical layer management and Infrastructure Verification as a Service address an ongoing need for proper cabling plant documentation
Patrick McLaughlin
[email protected]

Putting the finishing touches on this issue shortly before I head to the BICSI Winter Conference, a number of my preparations for that trip are fresh in my mind. Among a few of them, I noticed a trend.

In a pre-show briefing with Fiber Mountain, I got a preview of the technology they will introduce at BICSI. I have written about Fiber Mountain before, characterizing their fiber-optic connectivity platform as a software-defined physical-layer infrastructure. This new offering from them significantly broadens the company's portfolio. It's a first-of-its-kind platform that can be compared to the technology we have commonly called intelligent physical layer management. During my conversation with Fiber Mountain's M.H. Raza, he compared the evolution of physical-layer management to the evolution of a driver finding his or her way to a destination. Printed maps gave way to sites like Mapquest, which are updated more frequently and are very specific to the user's needs, but still amounted to a printed document within the vehicle when they launched. The GPS changed everything. Fiber Mountain's new technology, Raza said, is like the GPS of physical layer management. I'm looking forward to seeing it firsthand while I'm at the show.

But BICSI, of course, is more than an exhibition. The association prides itself on the education it provides through many platforms, including its conferences. So as I looked through the Winter Conference program, I took note that back-to-back sessions on Tuesday, February 6 highlight the importance of physical layer management. First, "Reduced opex through good IT/ICT hygiene" will explain how "current Day 2 management practices lead to organization and technology overspend."

Then, Bethany Rüddek, who authors the cover story in this issue, will co-present a session titled "A standard approach to infrastructure documentation and management." She and Concert Technologies president Dennis Mazaris will detail the merits of sound infrastructure management, and highlight the hazards and inefficiencies of some common management approaches.

A session later in the week, "NBase-T in the real world," will emphasize the opportunities that exist to maximize the use of an existing cabling plant. But you won't be able to get the most out of your entire infrastructure if you don't know what your entire infrastructure is. Now perhaps more than ever, having complete knowledge of your cabling infrastructure is a vital business need.

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