This is one installment in a series of blog posts on automated infrastructure management (AIM). Previous posts discussed benefits of the ISO/IEC 18598 standard; how AIM helps with IoT, energy consumption and risk mitigation, and trends and standards that are driving AIM adoption.
In previous blog posts, we talked about the benefits of implementing an AIM system and that the benefits can be classified as either intrinsic and extrinsic. We also talked about application program interfaces, automated documentation, and discovery of connections within the networks. However, we did not talk about the reason an AIM standard is needed, let alone why systems like this exist.
The answer to this is simple. Complexity. In the last decade, the needs of the network have changed because of the behaviors of a new generation of users, new technologies, and the explosion of end points providing more data than ever before. Complexity is the result of many factors like these and while it is a simple answer, the result leaves users with network architectures that are vastly different than what networks looked like 15-20 years ago.
When architectures were predominantly point to point, documenting and keeping track of the network as it changed and evolved during its lifetime was an easier task (see Figure 1). Even as we added patch panels into the system to provide points of test or ease of access, users were able to cope with the numbers of connections that existed in their networks.
As networks evolved, more connections were required that were not as simple as point to point. Multi-fiber connectors such as the 12 and 24 fiber MPO introduced new architectures and methodologies of connecting networks. As acceptance of these connectors spread, new technologies were introduced to allow for higher speeds like 40G and 100G connections, which in turn led to a multitude of connection points packed into a higher density network (see Figure 2). Even today, networks continue to evolve to keep up with the current and future needs beyond 100G.
Networks today are far removed from the simple network architectures of the past, but the tools used to document and keep track of those networks have yet to catch up. It is akin to having a smartphone but still carrying around a PDA or, as it is in many cases for some networks, a handwritten address book to keep track of all your contacts. So much time and effort is put into manually documenting, verifying and re-verifying a network because everyone has to account for human error. Even if a person is right 99.99 percent of the time the 0.01 percent will eventually catch up as it cascades errors into the network documentation.
Complexity and human errors dealing with that complexity are what made AIM solutions necessary. AIM solutions provide a tool set that help users address the needs and difficulties of documenting networks that are changing faster than ever before. Networks are changing into more and more complex iterations of the networks of the past. As your network grows and evolves, an AIM solution will help reduce the human errors that adversely affect these complex networks.
This video shows how Excel I.T. utilizes AIM to manage their customers’ increasingly complex workspaces.