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Cable management software enhances documentation, visibility

Even a timeworn networking discipline like cabling can undergo a renaissance. See how cable management software helps organizations visualize network connectivity.

As a network manager, perhaps you document the connections between ports. But do your records include all the information you need to maintain the network efficiently?

While a spreadsheet that lists port-to-port connections may seem sufficient, it may not contain all the information you need. A more efficient solution involves cable management software packages that maintain additional information that will help avoid errors as the network grows and changes.

Networks are constantly adding users, applications and devices. It's easy to make a mistake when adding any of these items. Cable management software provides additional information easily and quickly to help manage the network. The software packages maintain much more than simply the port-to-port information contained in a spreadsheet.

What is cable management software?

Cable management systems include information about each cable, such as the type of cable, specifications, color, IP addresses, patch panel locations and the applications that use the connection. The route of the cable may be shown on the floor plan of the facility with all aisles, racks, cabinets, and other furniture shown and labeled. The package may generate a detailed work order for each network change and maintain a detailed log, enabling network managers to reconstruct past network changes.

Cable management software can display a logical diagram of connections between components, as well as the physical diagram. Some products include templates for widely used network components to help in constructing a physical picture of device backplanes. These different types of diagrams help network managers locate cables and identify ports quickly.

Some packages monitor power requirements for each rackmounted component and alert IT if the available power will be exceeded if a new component is added. Others monitor temperature and humidity at each backplane or include an asset management component. Some other software can trace signals end to end or query devices with Simple Network Management Protocol.

Sunbird screenshot
Sunbird software can help network managers visualize connectivity in 3D.

When choosing cable management software, consider your configuration. For example, some products are best used within a data center, and others include features for when buildings are scattered throughout a neighborhood or city. Cable routes outdoors can be shown on a city street plan and may identify the phone poles that hold the cable, which helps trace the cable in case of a break.

In any case, when assessing cable management software, the first step is to carefully evaluate the array of cable management products now available. Examine their features, and determine which product will be most useful for maintaining your network. Then, choose the package that is most suitable for your environment.

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