Complex Networks Require Smart Tools for the Physical Layer

Jason_Headshot Jason Bautista September 21, 2016

AIM-EBOOKThis is the fifth post in a new blog series about intelligent buildings, based on content from the CommScope Connected and Efficient Buildings e-book.

As the networking industry moves to more complex, highly available architectures, equipment manufacturers have created new software tools for network designs. The new software takes the complexity out of the network, enabling users to create a simpler way to digest the details about network operations. This trend has taken root in the servers and storage, switching and application layers of the network. The only area where this trend has not been fully embraced is within the physical connectivity of the network; however, that change is coming.

Other parts of the physical layer have embraced the use of intelligent hardware feeding into software systems to abstract and analyze data. For example, power, heating and cooling are closely tracked and monitored; however, tracking and documenting network connectivity has remained a manual process. The critical components of physical connectivity are tracked mainly by spreadsheets or other error prone methods of documentation.

Networks have evolved to a point where automated software and analytics are necessary to run and maintain operations because of their complexity. Knowing where the server connection originates can be difficult for someone who is well versed in multi-fiber connectivity. But for someone who is not, it can be a nightmare to troubleshoot and confirm if there is an issue with the network.

That is just one connection – now imagine a large network filled with thousands of such connections. A 2016 Ponemon Institute study states that one in five network outages are because of human error. If there is even a small chance of an error in the network documentation, then the time to track, identify and fix issues within the network greatly increases.

Network operators are turning to new software tools that build more intelligent networks. Automated infrastructure management (AIM) solutions offer visibility into the network’s physical connectivity. An AIM system goes beyond simple spreadsheets, manual notes or a GUI front-end for data entry. The system abstracts complexity away by automatically tracking changes as they are made in physical layer. When connections are removed from a panel, an AIM system will track and update that change automatically. It will also give users the ability to leverage that data for actionable analytics.

Tools have been evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of networks and those who operate them. With the ratification of a well-defined AIM standard, we now have a modern toolset to address the needs and realities of cabling and connecting modern networks.

To learn more about CommScope's AIM solutions, check out the Connected and Efficient Buildings e-book. In it, we explain AIM and the advantages it offers in physical layer visibility.

About the Author


Jason Bautista

Jason Bautista manages Market Development and Enterprise Strategy for Workspace Solutions at CommScope. He joined the Strategy and Market Development team in 2017 after joining CommScope in 2015 through the BNS acquisition from TE Connectivity. The team works to identify, analyze and monitor external and internal environments with a primary focus on strategic revenue enhancement directives of growth, profitability, and sustainability. Jason has more than 17 years of experience in the networking industry having held various customer facing positions in product development, marketing and support for a diverse range of networks and customers across the globe.