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Action Heating Up on Cable Management System Front

The intelligent cable management system (CMS) market is showing signs of becoming more pervasive as large organizations realize that in order to reduce or eliminate network downtime, they are going to...

October 1, 2003  

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The intelligent cable management system (CMS) market is showing signs of becoming more pervasive as large organizations realize that in order to reduce or eliminate network downtime, they are going to need help.

A growth spurt would certainly be good news for RiT Technologies of Tel Aviv, the first company to introduce the concept of real-time cabling management, and iTRACS Corp. of Chicago, Ill., the two market leaders in the CMS space. Both have scored wins recently.

This summer, a major U.S. investment bank installed RiT’s Patchview for the Enterprise 3.0 at 12 sites across Europe, making it the world’s largest managed physical infrastructure installation, the company said.

The Web-enabled offering will allow the bank to manage its European physical layer network from three centralized control sites — one for its eight London branches, one for its Frankfurt offices, and one for its operations in Milan, Zurich, and Geneva.

In May, iTRACS teamed up with NORDX/CDT to launch IntelliMAC, a CMS that monitors physical infrastructure and reports all moves, adds and changes to a database, allowing the network to be viewed in real time.

When combined with the IntelliMAC intelligent hardware, the iTRACS software monitors the network and all attached devices, the network topology in data centers, communications rooms and wiring closets; and automatically detects both authorized and unauthorized changes; utilizes patent-pending technology to quickly pinpoint wiring trouble spots; alerts IT staff to problems via alarms, emails, pages, user-defined scripts and/or photos; and issues work orders or trouble tickets to initiate corrective action.

Trescray Network Communications Inc., a U.K. partner of both companies, estimates that over 50 per cent of network problems are directly related to the physical infrastructure.

“Accurate documentation and management of the physical layer should therefore be one of the highest priorities when budgets are right and resources are short,” it says. “However, as every technician knows, manual methods of documentation can be time consuming, unreliable and at best, a pain to implement. The challenge has been to find an automated solution that automatically discovers and monitors con- nectivity of all vendors equipment found in wiring closets, self-documents and provides real-time and remote access over the Internet.

RiT says that it’s time to bring network cabling into the 21st century because managing a constantly growing network the old-fashioned way is becoming increasingly costly, risky and in fact, downright impossible.

With constantly growing and changing networks demanding additional cabling and connections for the many assets in the system, the network, it says, is difficult to manage: “Simple errors, like pulling out the wrong cable, or misreading a handwritten note, are common occurrences that cost companies a fortune in downtime and technician time.”

Company president Motti Kleinmann, who’s based in Mahwah, N.J., says the market is entering a new phase in which the awareness level has grown and the value proposition improved.

“The need is primarily with larger organizations,” he says. “The target market has stayed the same – those with mission critical sites to manage.”

Andre Mouton, IntelliMac product manager at NORDX/ CDT agrees, adding that there is no need to “evangelize” because companies understand what an a CMS can do.

Glenn O’Donnell, program director with the consulting firm Meta Group, says the number one challenge facing the enterprise networking is making it adaptable to changing business needs, while still offering low-cost operation.

“Managing the network is important because it’s another aspect of cost management,” he says. “Everybody is finally coming to the recognition that the total cost of an IT infrastructure is not just the cost of putting it in. It’s also the cost of operating it.”

Still, O’Donnell says that while he’s impressed with the CMS concept, “we also have to be pragmatic about the cost of doing it.”

Mouton maintains that there is “tremendous work” going on to reduce the cost.

“The primary clients right now are banks, governments and large firms because it’s not cost effective (for smaller companies),” he says. “That will change over time.” Mouton predicts that within five to eight years, 60 per cent of all organizations will install some form of a CMS because by then, it will be that much more affordable.

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