Automatically managing the physical network
infrastructure management tools ease network management, says K K Shetty,
Country Manager, AMP Netconnect, India & SAARC.
A network manager needs to keep methodical logs of moves, adds and changes
(MACs) in order to run an efficient network. In high-availability networks such
as data centres, immediate fault detection and trouble shooting play a crucial
Traditional network management tools are of limited value as the information
contained within the toolsbeing manually gathered and maintainedis
time-consuming, sometimes inaccurate, and can prove to be costly. The need for
this software stems from the need for easy planning and detection of MACs, and
also maintenance of accurate records for handling helpdesk tasks such as trouble
tickets and work assignment to respective team members.
The solutions can trace all devices connected to the network; take care of mapping
and documentation of the physical infrastructure; monitor all connections and
events; log, report, alarm and alert for all changes in assets and physical
layer connections and/or disconnections; extend network management to include
layer-one; and extend asset management in layer-one.
Intelligent Infrastructure Management (IIM) systems utilise sensor technology
that allows them to monitor the status and associated connectivity on every
infrastructure port. This alignment to a comprehensive database and tools allows
network managers to detect and troubleshoot problems.
A well-implemented, fully-integrated IIM solution can deliver best-practice
operational processes that can provide a level of savings inversely proportional
to how efficient an organisations existing manual processes are. For example,
for any given level of operations, an organisation with poor working practices
will have a far greater potential for savings than an organisation with good
|An IIM system should be able to ensure
business continuity through facilitating centralised management, and allowing
development of disaster recovery plans and documentation of the physical
layer. It should enhance service levels by reducing unscheduled downtimes,
decreasing response time, and preventing errors.
Security plays a critical role in today's business, so
intelligent cabling systems should offer heightened security through improved
network management control by tracking connections and/or unauthorised
changes in real-time, maintenance of audit logs, and generation of alarms
for connectivity changes.
For the kind of investments required for setting up a
good network infrastructure, it is desirable that it should offer improved
asset, network, equipment and application utilisation. The final goal
of the system should be to increase productivity and reduce operating
Gaining the upper hand
Traditional physical infrastructure management tools are restricted to a small
element of change management and are known to be inaccurate and/or proprietary.
This makes it difficult to incorporate them into core IT service management
IIM solutions, on the other hand, incorporate a comprehensive level of accurate
connectivity and asset information. This can enhance the productivity and efficiency
of existing management tools, which can be further extended to work-streams
and processes across the organisation.
IIM software ensures that user problems are isolated and rectified as effectively
and efficiently as possible. Rather than trying to solve problems with only
a logical view of the network, IIM system-enabled organisations can augment
this process by providing reliable, real-time physical information to establish
the location of the user, test the physical cable links for connectivity, and
confirm or dismiss physical causes for related events. They generate alerts
and traps caused by unauthorised events; these are forwarded to the appropriate
individual or incident management system where input from the physical layer
IIM system can be used to quickly analyse the root cause of network problems.
Asset and configuration management teams can also optimise their processes and
tools by adding IIM system-derived real-time locational and connectivity information
that can be used to locate assets for audit or upgrade purposes, establish the
potential impact of the loss of a network device, or establish departmental
usage of network assets for recharge purposes. Security, facilities, network
availability and continuity management teams and processes can all benefit from
IIM system-derived information. It is therefore not surprising to learn that
the more the work-streams and processes are underpinned by an IIM system, the
more the savings are realised, and consequently, the stronger the business case
and the better the ROI.
One basic advantage is that it is not necessary to get into network management
of the TCP/IP layer to monitor basic MACs because this feature is available
on the physical layer. Besides this, the software has features such as advanced
cable management, virtual wiring closet, discover (auto discover), autoCAD/graphic
integration, more detailed reports, and automated work order process. In addition,
it has other features that have been compared with traditional networking practices
in the accompanying chart.
||Automates the process of discovering, documenting, monitoring
and managing the physical network's connections and non-active devices.
||Does not automate the process of discovering, documenting,
monitoring and managing the physical network's connections and non-active
|Automatically Updates the Database
||Reports authorised or unauthorised changes in real time.
||Home made/spreadsheet databases need to be updated manually.
||Whenever the system detects a connectivity change in passive
devices, it automatically creates an entry in an internal comprehensive
||Does not do so for passive devices, yes for active devices
through some SNMP-based software.
||System distinguishes unauthorised changes from authorised
||Cannot detect authorised and unauthorised changes.
||Sends a pre-defined text message via e-mail as alert.
||No alerts are generated on any moves, adds or changes.
|More Detailed Reports
||Software provides a library of detailed reports for cable,
port and asset utilisation. These reports are invaluable to network administrators
and asset managers can generate such reports for active devices.
||Reports cannot be generated for passive devices such as patch
panels, patch cords and the utilisation of the same in the network. SNMP-based
||If a network outage should occur, the system database automatically
re-synchronises upon the restoration of power, showing network asset connectivity
||No automated re-synchronisation takes place. All updates have
to be documented manually.
|Automated Work Order Process
||The system automatically generates work orders,
suggesting the appropriate changes to make. Suggested changes can be revised
by the user.
||Third-party software needs to be procured to automate the
process; however, it provides no interlink between the physical layer and
other network layers.