"Fibertown" approach improves cable management

Maybe it is not necessary to explain to cabling managers how worrisome it was to manage the installation of new cables in the computer-room facilities at Freddie Mac (McLean, VA). When a typical installation is completed, no one on this planet except the cable manager and installer knows exactly where the cable run begins and ends. Should a memory lapse occur, even they may have a hard time finding a particular circuit again.

Jun 1st, 1998
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In the throes of massive fiber-cable-run requests, Freddie Mac devises a grid/labeling system.

Mark Provus / Freddie Mac

Maybe it is not necessary to explain to cabling managers how worrisome it was to manage the installation of new cables in the computer-room facilities at Freddie Mac (McLean, VA). When a typical installation is completed, no one on this planet except the cable manager and installer knows exactly where the cable run begins and ends. Should a memory lapse occur, even they may have a hard time finding a particular circuit again.

And heaven help those cabling managers if things really get bad, and they have to isolate that circuit and 20 other circuits now because the local area network that supports half the staff in the trading room--where all the money is made--is down. Experience has taught that unless--and until--the physical layer (such as Level 01 in the International Standards Organization open systems interconnect reference model) is confirmed problem-free, the cabling is the prime suspect.

Although cable managers at Freddie Mac are far from dealing with problem-free cabling, they have experienced significant progress in small and sheltered areas of the home-financing company`s cabling plant, which can have a positive impact on other areas of the company. And perhaps, just as important, cabling managers at Freddie Mac have clarified their own thinking in the process.

Setting the stage

Freddie Mac`s cabling infrastructure includes about 1750 computer systems as part of its nationwide customer network. Several months ago, the company acknowledged that a new phenomenon was occurring in its computer rooms. More cabling runs were being requested than ever before. A change in the company`s cable-management approach was required, and it was necessary to devise a more easily understood and more comprehensively integrated cabling-design plan.

The cabling design for the company`s computer rooms was influenced by the need to get a grip on the proliferation of fiber-optic cabling runs from servers to hubs. Because Freddie Mac does a considerable amount of software development, as well as preproduction testing of platforms, it is continuously engaged in reconfiguring computer room equipment.

Most of the cabling that supports these equipment changes is now fiber-optic, particularly dual-access system Fiber Distributed Data Interface (fddi) cabling runs. In case of a failure on a hub, these types of cables provide redundancy--a necessity for more than 300 servers in six computer rooms. Therefore, it is necessary to run redundant fiber strands between the server equipment and hubs, which can very quickly populate both ends of these cables with unsightly and potentially troublesome orange tangles.

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A border of letters near the ceiling identifies the location of computer-room equipment at Freddie Mac.

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