Modern telecommunications networks today utilize the capabilities of robust fiber-optic fiber backbones. A large enterprise, spanning 100 acres with over 5 million square feet of occupied space, requested the need to survey and document their extensive fiber-optic networks. The goal was to identify the start and end points of thousands of fiber runs to better understand the network use and availability. The fiber-optic backbones serve a number of critical network assets such as:
- Public Networks
- Multiple Private Networks
- Video Displays on Networks
- VoIP Telephone Communication
- Emergency Telephone Communications
- Radio Traffic Over Fiber
- Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems for power monitoring
- Access control communications
- Video surveillance/monitoring data
The objectives for this project were to survey the existing data and determine, if possible, each cable’s destination from the data and document the fiber using new cloud-based software.
CLOUD BASED INFORMATICS
PSE employed cloud-based network management software to create a virtual layout of the buildings, IT equipment racks, fiber patch panels, termination cards, ports, and point-to-point connections. This aided our engineering group to document the information at a faster rate through custom “coding nomenclature” designed by staff to address the software. PSE helped develop the abbreviated nomenclature coding to assist IT personnel in being more efficient when uploading different information to the cloud-based network management software such as network switches, cable management, panels, boards, etc.
Our codes were developed to have the cloud-based network management software process the data and organize it into a well-designed diagrammatic representation of the extensive IT network.
This is the overarching principle of “informatics” in infrastructure. Setting up the information on the cloud-based network management software provided:
- Enhanced productivity
- Ensured higher efficiency
- Provided easier accessibility of administrative rights-based access levels to assure infrastructure security.
- Enables future expansion within the informatics.
This allows hierarchical access limited to: contractors, architects, IT technicians, installers, and others, so that more than one user can concurrently be allowed access to the needed information.
GETTING THE SURVEY DONE
As one might have expected, inconsistences existed between the original as-built documentation provided to PSE. With this in mind, objectives were met by first taking a step back to grasp a thirty-thousand-foot view for a “big picture” understanding of what was needed, information and infrastructure of each building, and fiber paths. PSE set the standards on labeling and numbering of equipment. Equipment was assigned a unique identifier that ensures consistency and clarity for all designations – currently and for the future.
The fiber-optic backbones are also used to support the monitoring and control from the existing SCADA system. A SCADA system is a PLC-based monitoring system used in large facilities for monitoring and control. Information is passed through bundles of either single-mode or multi-mode fiber cables. In certain rooms, fibers fan out to substations to handle sensitive information to communicate power and electric status, process control, and HVAC, for example.
ENCODING OUR RESULTS
These engineering methods resulted in easily comprehendible coding in an accurate format describing:
First – What type of cable is used?
Second – What type of connection is used?
Third – Where and how the fiber is connected on both ends.
While creating different codes and applying efficiencies to complex naming conventions and objects, PSE categorized different connector cable ports as either Subscriber Connector (SC), Straight Tip (ST), or Lucent Connectors (LC). Each cable has a different connection capability to patch panels which directly associates their density, reliability, and cost. This required significant coordination with the cloud-based network management software’s IT support department to have specific cards in order to have connections align with the cable documentation exactly. That’s not to say that things are always perfect. Improvements for the future include collecting precise data from the enterprise and working with the cloud-based network management software’s import option to make surveying and designing fiber documentation more efficient.
1, and 2, and 33,305
The total number of buildings and rooms surveyed and processed on the cloud-based network management software consisted of 33,305 fibers/UTP cables, 199 racks, and 542 panels along with their associated communication/network port cards. This very large effort took five members of Professional Systems Engineering, LLC staff to survey and complete CAD documentation. The site results seem impressive now that:
1. One can easily access the cloud-based network management software as a user and follow from the top level of connections to the city, site, building, terminal, room, rack, patch panel, card; lending user ability to find one single connection out of tens of thousands of ports.
2. Using the available intact data that has been verified, IT staff can, with great precision, locate the point-to-point connections and their types – single, multi-mode, or Category 6 cable.
3. The effort actualizes future design considerations so that cloud documentation details each fiber allowing the owner to deploy within the open space provided or expand infrastructure
CLOUD INFORMATICS = GREATER RESILLIENCY
The experience of integrating software design with real-world equipment for a well-calibrated infrastructure network reflects resiliency and future capabilities while pinpointing current and future gaps in the network. This also provides the necessary engineering bandwidth to make data gathering of the sitewide VoIP, private/public networks, radio support, SCADA, and other building management systems both more accessible and expandable in the most efficient way.
Having an online cloud database is far better for enterprises and multi-city/international companies to share information at a faster rate for enterprise communications systems management while providing greater resiliency.
Thang Van, studied Mechanical Engineering at Temple University and is a Design Engineer with Professional Systems Engineering, LLC. While Thang was handed the responsibility of an entire fiber backbone for an enterprise over 100 acres, he was a part of the survey, document, and redesign team for thousands of CCTV cameras, audio, and also duress systems. He provides project research, surveys, and engineering design in his capacity.