Does your organization use spreadsheets to try and maintain its cable plant? Spreadsheets are useful tools, I agree, but is it the right tool to manage one of the most critical services in your organization? Yes, it is quick and easy and yes, it can log basic connectivity information, but it cannot properly manage the cable plant. Spreadsheets are standalone tools with no security, no structure, and no data entry standards. Comprehensive cable plant management requires more than just tabular data entry; it comprises spatial data such as rack elevations and floorplans, plus:
- connectivity schedules
- patching schedules
- hardware & asset configuration and capacities
- installed cable lengths
- cable test results
- power connectivity to include loadings and heat outputs
- and more.
Without a more comprehensive approach, such as a Configuration Management System, version chaos soon occurs whereby drawings have not been updated with recent changes and spreadsheets do not reflect current configurations. Maybe a new patch panel or network device was installed but the spreadsheet was not updated to reflect the new ports or device information. Or multiple users have different stored copies of the same spreadsheet due to lack of version control. What if User X develops the spreadsheets and then leaves his position? User Y arrives and starts managing data in a different spreadsheet format, causing inconsistencies between existing records and new records.
Implementation of a Configuration Management System and associated processes facilitates controlled standards. Version control is maintained. Spatial, asset and connectivity data is 100% coordinated. This approach eliminates the version and management overhead associated with using limited spreadsheet and drawing tools to try and fully manage cable plant infrastructure.