Intelligent Cabling: The Genius Is Inside

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

“Oh no! The network is down again.”

“Can't figure out which cable has come unstuck”

“Umm, where does this patch cord go?”


Welcome to the world of an average system administrator who

faces a spaghetti mesh of cables, cables and more cables, running back and forth

in a wiring closet. Managing your constantly growing network the old fashioned

way is indeed becoming increasingly costly, risky, and in fact impossible.

The solution lies in intelligent cable management system (ICMS)

or simply intelligent cabling. In an intelligent network environment, the system

automatically detects items connected to the physical network, and correlates

them with a log of connectivity changes and record of device locations. The ICMS

is described as software-based systems where ports, patch panels and outlets are

managed via a computer interface. This makes the life of a network administrator

extremely simple and manageable.

“One of the major complaints of the IT manager is not

being able to accurately identify the unused network capacity,” says KK Shetty,

director Sales, Tyco Electronics. “Now this is easily resolved by intelligent

cabling, as the person can view the logical virtual view of the entire network

and an updated automated database to ascertain which way can the existing

network be expanded.”


Intelligent cabling guarantees documentation accuracy,

improves response time, serves as an online tool for troubleshooting, provide

mobility, improve the performance and service levels and provide added security

by identifying unauthorized changes and immediate notification of alarms.


to consider intelligent cabling for your business?
  • When there are more

    nodes to manage like centrally managing several branch offices

  • When faced with the real-time security challenge of a large network

  • When you want to simplify the task of documentation and upgrading the


  • When you need to accurately locate equipment and users and save

    considerable time

  • When you wish to save cost in long-term network management

In other words intelligent infrastructure management puts

the structure back in structured cabling.


The Gray Matter

Intelligent cabling is based on sensors, which are rooted in the structured

cabling system. The sensors monitor the status and associated connectivity on

every infrastructure port. These sensors push the information into a centralized

database, real time. This alignment to a comprehensive database and tools allows

network managers to detect and troubleshoot problems. Any change taking place is

recorded and the database collects and analyzes the information resulting in a

suitable action.

The intelligence is attributed to the strong software

built-in. The software is capable of isolating user problems and suggesting a

possible solution while alerting the manager of an undesirable incident.

Traditionally, if a cable was unplugged from a patch panel,

the administrator would have to refer to the logs or documentation prepared and

follows the logical view of the network to identify the problem and fix it.


But ICMS contradicts and lets the manager identify the

exact location of the cable in seconds and even instructs how to make the right

connection. It generates alerts and traps caused by unauthorized events; these

are forwarded to the appropriate individual or incident management system where

input from the physical layer IMCS system can be used to quickly analyze the

root cause of network problems.


vs Traditional


Intelligent Cabling



Networking Management

Security Features

System quickly

identifies unauthorized changes and alerts the network manager.

Cannot detect

authorized and unauthorized changes. Does not generate any alerts.

Work process flow

After identifying a

problem, the system can suggest possible changes to rectify the problem

through e-mail or text alerts. The user can revise suggested changes.

Third-party software

needs to be procured to automate the process; however, it provides no

interlink between the physical layer and other network layers.

Documentation support

Software automates

documentation process and generates detailed reports for cable, port and

asset utilization. develop disaster-recovery plans; and document

physical-layer activity.

Manual documentation

has to be maintained. Reports cannot be generated for passive devices such

as patch panels, patch cords and the utilization of the same in the


Database maintenance

Automatically updates

the database of any changes made to the network.

Manual spreadsheet

databases need to be updated.


When a network outage

occurs, the system database automatically re-synchronizes upon the

restoration of power, showing network asset connectivity changes.

No automated

re-synchronization takes place. All updates have to be documented


The intelligent structured cabling is able to track

IP-based devices such that the network manager can access, control, and manage

them from one central location. This is more critical considering the today's

distributed computing environments and the acute need to troubleshoot them



There is a scarcity of network management staff and,

therefore, remote access and management of devices is logical. “Remote

management is the biggest attraction of intelligent cabling solutions,” says

Dr Ispran Kandaswamy, VP and managing director, Asia Pacific, Systimax

Solutions. “The manager can have the convenience to be located anywhere in the

campus or off-site and still be able to view the entire data center without even

going to the actual site,” he adds.

Intelligent Patch Cord

While large cabling

companies are rolling out high-end real-time cable management solutions,

there are low-cost options also available. DAX Networks has launched

low-cost intelligent patch cords called PatchSee, ideal for the small-mid

sized enterprises.

PatchSee is a patented

patch cord that allows you to find the other end of the patch cord in

seconds without disconnecting either of the plugs. To achieve this you

simply use the Patchlight tool to inject light into the back of one

connector. The cable has tiny light tubes that carry the light to other

end making the corresponding connector glow. Save time tracing patch cords

and avoid accidental disconnections and downtime. The cost per lead is

roughly twice that of good quality conventional cords. PatchSee

Intelligent Patch Cords are available in the following range: Cat6 costing

Rs 975-Rs 1,250, Cat5e patch cords in UTP and FTP costing Rs 650 to Rs



When Patchlight tool injects

light into one end of a patch cord, the other end lights up

Time for Intelligence

Here are some startling statstics:

  • An estimated 70% of network outages and downtime are

    related to cabling issues.

  • An estimated 40% of the data circuits in a network

    require a MAC or servicing annually, and an average MAC or service call

    takes about 90 minutes to complete.

  • 80% of the time is spent identifying the problem and

    20% actually performing the repair.


    management is the biggest attraction of intelligent cabling


    -Dr Ispran Kandaswamy

    VP and managing director of Asia Pacific, Systimax Solutions


    intelligent cabling systems are considered not so cheap, it goes a long

    way in showing good return on investments"

    -Dileep Kumar, enterprise product

    manager, ADC Krone

Imagine all this affecting a nerve center of a bank-the

implications could be severe in terms of money and time lost. As a result, one

can see sporadic mushrooming of intelligent cable deployments across the

country. Rajesh Kumar, country manager, Siemon points out the trendsetters in

the industry of early intelligent cabling adopters, “Cabling systems are

increasingly getting intelligent due to the establishment of the BPOs, call

centers, disaster recovery centers and data warehousing in India. Increasing

need for complex networks that deploy state-of-the art technologies to meet the

demands of these mission critical businesses aids the momentum of intelligent


On the high cost factor, Dileep Kumar, enterprise product

manager, ADC Krone believes it is of little significance. “Although

intelligent cabling systems are considered not so cheap, it goes a long way in

showing good return on investments. Intelligent cabling reduces the cost of

network ownership by solving issues like unplanned downtime, inefficient manual

moves, adds and changes, redundant ports, inaccurate records etc.”


There are some cheaper alternatives available as well that

do not promise real-time cable management system, but help the system

administrator in tackling the spaghetti mess nevertheless. One such option is

PatchSee (See box), an intelligent patch cord that helps in identifying both

ends of a patch cord without disconnecting. K Surender, country manager, Dax

Networks says, “I hope this is adopted widely by the industry instead of

traditional patch cords. I feel it's a must for all users especially for

mission critical areas. The additional investment is just 2%.”


for Intelligent Cabling Solutions (India specific)


Product Name


No of installations


AMPTRAC Intelligent

Cable Management System

Automatically generates

a complete physical topology of the network at the data center, enabling

troubleshooting the network remotely.

200,000 ports in last

fiscal with over 30 customers


iPatch System

An integrated real time

infrastructure management solution comprised of intelligent copper and

fiber patch panels, a Rack Manager Plus unit for managing and monitoring

the panels in a rack or cabinet and System Manager software.


ADC Krone

TrueNet PLM (Physical

Layer Management)

TrueNet PLM drastically

speeds and simplifies daily network provisioning, maintenance and security

providing Network Managers with full visibility and control of the network

and its assets.

Over 10 installations


Premise Networks Real

Time Patching System

Comprises of

intelligent patch panels, patch cords, integration strips, cable and

physical layer management hardware and software.

A key feature is that it can be retrofitted to legacy cabling

systems in addition to new installations.

Over 14,000 drops



—Intelligent Cabling Systems

Provides real-time

information on the state of patch field connections.

One installation

Belden CDT

RiT's PatchView IPLMS

(Intelligent Physical Layer Management Solutions)

It consists of a

comprehensive, standards-based, end-to-end SCS with intelligent patch

panels and software agents. It presents complete view of physical layer

connectivity and its relation to the logical layers.

Over 16,000 drops

The cabling vendors are unanimous in asserting the

increasing popularity of intelligent cabling. Indian IT sector have been early

adopters of intelligent cabling. Milind Tamhane, VP, Manufacturing,D-Link India

says, “There are bright signs of intelligent cabling gaining ground in India

as this solution is sought after by few specific customer categories that are

independent of geographic boundaries. We expect the presence of such companies

to increase in India.”


are very bright signs of intelligent cabling gaining ground in India"

-Milind Tamhane

VP, Manufacturing, D-Link India

Tyco claims to be the market leader in intelligent cabling

installations, with over 200,000 ports installed so far. “Most of our clients

are from banks, telecom and ITeS verticals for both end-to-end and data

centers,” informs Shetty. Leading customers include GE, HSBC, Philips, iGate,

Hutch, Orange, AOL, Verizon and CTS. “Many of the customers have gone for

selective intelligent cabling along with regular cabling options. Handful of

companies have opted for end-to-end intelligent cabling to address security

management, ease of documentation, and to improve efficiency of LAN


Among the rising trends, intelligent cabling is a sure

winner, one that guarantees a robust and reliable infrastructure. Although

expensive compared to a traditional cabling solution by over 70%, the customers

feel it's a small price to pay in exchange for an ensured peace of mind for a

long time.

Malovika Rao