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Getting the house in order

Pending TIA 606-B is thorough, complete and covers administration of premises cabling and data centres.

January 1, 2012  

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With a New Year upon us it is a time to reflect on the changes that we have seen in the industry. One thing that comes to mind is the rapid evolution of technology and some of the drivers that are fueling the demand for greater bandwidth and greater efficiency in data centres.

This is also the time of year to take stock of where we are and to bring our house in order, which brings me to the topic of this article, namely the need for cabling administration, asset management and monitoring power utilization and energy efficiency.

The TIA TR 42.6 subcommittee has been hard at work to develop an updated TIA 606-B Administration Standard for Telecommunications Infrastructure.

It includes the administration of premises cabling as well as data centres. It is nearly complete, currently in the final default balloting stage, and is expected to be approved at the next TIA plenary meeting in February.

It is a voluminous document with over 100 pages and is very thorough and complete.

The elements of the telecommunications infrastructure that are administered include horizontal cabling and pathways, backbone cabling and pathways, telecommunications bonding and grounding, spaces (e.g., entrance facility, telecommunications room, equipment room), and firestopping

The Administration Standard covers four different classes of administration. Class 1 addresses a small premise with an equipment room (ER) and no telecommunications rooms (TRs) and no backbone cabling; Class 2 addresses a single building with an ER and one or more TRs; Class 3 addresses a campus and Class 4 addresses a multi-campus, multi-site system.

The specifications for each class include requirements for identifiers, records, and labeling and a method to find the record associated with any specific identifier.

This standard specifies two formats for identifiers:

1. A format that is backward-compatible with the format specified in ANSI/TIA-606-A. This format should be used for existing administration systems that use ANSI/TIA-606-A identifiers.

2. A format that is compatible with the format specified in ISO/IEC TR 14763-2-1.

Both formats are very similar using different symbols for delimiters.

The most complex part of the standard is the formatting of an identifier for the different elements to be administered.

A first look at the Table of identifiers for all the different elements can be frightening experience and resembles a lesson in advanced algebra with nested brackets and delimiters. It looks worse than it actually is and is provided for precision and completeness.

The complexity depends on the class of administration and what information is included as part of the identifier. The best way of understanding the identifier format is to look at a specific example. An example of the TIA 606-A compatible identifier format for a port on a patch panel is SFO2-1DC.AD02-35:07. This identifier refers to port 7 of the patch panel in rack unit position 35 in cabinet AD02 in room 1DC in building SF02.

As you can see, an identifier is like an address to a specific location of a specific device within a larger context such as a campus. The standard makes it clear that a label is not the same as an identifier.

A label includes a portion of the identifier that is sufficient to identify the component within the space it is located. Labels may optionally be a cross reference that provides a direct link to the identifier within the record in the administration system.

This link may be a non-machine readable label with a numeric code or a machine readable code such as a RFID or bar code.

There are two new sections of the standard that discuss how to keep track of all these identifiers and records and how keep them up to date.

The standard recognizes that administration may be accomplished using traditional paper based methods, spreadsheets, databases, specialized software and automated infrastructure management systems.

The administration system needs to provide linkages between infrastructure identifiers and records, including records about assets and equipment connected to the telecommunications cabling infrastructure.

It also needs to provide customizable reports listing all records or a subset of records containing a selected identifier or combination of identifiers.

An advantage of automated systems is that they can facilitate trouble shooting by discovering and tracking the physical location of end devices that are connected to the infrastructure, by integrating with CAD-generated drawings or other types of building floor plans and by managing and monitoring power utilization and the operating environment.

As you can see from this brief summary, the new TIA 606-B standard builds upon the existing TIA 606-A standard and provides some important new information to make it easier to manage complex networks.

Knowing where everything is, how to find the information you are looking for and making it easier to keep track of changes and additions can save time, money and frustration in the long run.

It is a good way to start the New Year knowing that everything is in order. CNS

Paul Kish is Director, Systems and Standards at Belden.

The information presented is the author’s view and

is not official TIA correspondence.