I'll be doing a few posts on Asset Mangement since it's a relatively small but very important part of any large fiber optic network. Before getting into the nuts and bolts (or bits and bytes, as it may be,) it's important that you realize why you should care. Aside from not burying yourself in mountains of paper (which become outdated in a matter of minutes,) preventing your truck-rolls from ending up in Boise instead of Biloxi, and opening yourself up to data loss when the disgruntled NOC burns the place down, you might want to check out these "Top 5 Reasons to Care About Fiber Asset Management Software."
1. Hierarchically List Your Fiber Assets from Map Regions to Signals on a Cable
The importance of having a complete listing of your equipment, where it is located, and what it is attached to cannot be underestimated in any size network. Regardless of whether you're talking about copper or fiber, networks can be pretty complex. Once you throw in systems like PacketLight's new PL-2000 Multiprotocol/Multirate Sub-10G Muxponder (which is a highly specialized and complex network device) these network models quickly require software solutions to be adequately mapped.
Without going into too much detail here, let's get back to our list!
2. Perform Complex Queries on Your Network Infrastructure
If you want to find out which customers are being affected by that backhoe that dug up one of your major route segments or determine how many pieces of equipment in your central office are older than 5 years you've got a lot of arduous research to do. Asset Management software makes these kinds of tasks a snap since everything in the database can be queried.
3. Reduce Paper Waste
It goes without saying that filing cabinets aren't ideal data repositories. Besides being vulnerable to fire, coffee spills, and lousy filing practices they take up a lot of space and require a lot of time to use. If you haven't already computerized your office, what are you waiting for?
4. Locate Outages Quickly and Accurately from OTDR Traces
It's fairly likely that you use OTDR traces to determine the integrity of your network. Unfortunately OTDRs don't know the difference between a cable that's running up a pole or one that's inside an underground cable run. Without properly mapping your network it's hard to find the source of a problem, even when you know how far away it is in cable-distance. Rescanning at various points to find the problem is time consuming and unnecessary. Map your network and find those problems in as little as one scan!
5. Integrate with Networking Monitoring Services
Network Monitoring Devices are the hot new item in Fiber Optics. They continuously scan your network for signal degradation allowing you to fix problems before they cause outages. I'll be doing a lot on these in future posts, but please feel free to contact me for more information.
The gist of #5 is that Network Monitoring Devices require a GIS map of a fiber network to truly be effective. Since they can tell you how far from the scan the trouble is, it's simple to plot that across your mapped route segments. Using map packages can even give you a street address or closest intersection for the damage!
There are a lot of Asset Management tools out there, but our research has shown FiberBase by Corridor Technologies (CTI, inc.) to be a robust and full featured solution. If you're not familiar with asset management, it's more than just simple tree-structure mapping and includes features such as GIS mapping, OTDR trace viewing/storage, Network Topology, etc. If you're interested in more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org!
Your feedback is appreciated and we love comments from our readers. Let us know if you use asset management software in the comments below!