From isolation to collaboration: has the IT Manager’s landscape changed?

Converged networks have changed the IT Manager’s landscape as smart building technology means they now find themselves working alongside multiple departments who have a vested interest in networked devices such as cameras, lights and all other IOT devices.

Managing these devices, their availability, identifying efficiencies and cost savings means knowing more about what’s on your network than ever before. Many IT managers continue to use spreadsheets to manage their assets and whilst there may be good reason (“It’s how we’ve always done it”) to do so using a cable and asset management solution gives you greater insight to ensure you can mitigate risks across your network. I have highlighted a few key reasons why this strategy should be reconsidered.

One impact, all impact

By understanding the connections and their relationship with network devices you will know how robust your network is and the impact should it fail. A single point of failure is a part of a system which will stop an entire network or section of devices from working. Depending on the type of business this can have a huge impact. For example, trading floors dealing with thousands of transactions every minute, secure premises that need controlled access, audio visual conference facilities and so on. No one wants to find they are non-operational. Down time can impact businesses hugely and at the very least affect their public credibility and finances.

Identifying where devices are on the network, what they are and how they are connected gives information to arrive at strategic decisions around planning and resolving failures – including how cabling is traced to switches, PDUs etc. A quickly accessible and well-documented solution versus a manual (physical) checking process saves an immense amount of time and money. This doesn’t even take into account the issues caused by frantic tracing of cables making the initial issue much worse.

Once all this is documented properly, future moves, adds, and changes can be planned in accordance with the actual installed infrastructure, ensuring the inevitable (despite best efforts) issues do not cause unnecessary complications in the future.

Where am I on the network/what am I?

Finding a device, knowing what the device is (camera, light, telephone etc) and where it is, means you have a proper audit trail of your assets and it means the desktop support engineer spends a greatly reduced time tracking down devices.

The ability to include PAT Test data, warranty, serial numbers, and any other important information also means you can manage service and replacement strategies.

Applying mean time between failure calculations based upon warranty and actual use times allows you to replace items equipment on schedule, at your convenience, and without undue impact to business.

Not on Network? Not a problem!

The devices on the network get a lot of focus but a lot of assets inside and outside of your space are connected and require similar attention to ensure a smooth running of your business. These can be your access control system (from Network controller to reader) to your external fibre network running through ducting and manholes.

Spreadsheet v software

It’s not unusual for IT Managers to list their assets on a spreadsheet and with appropriate vigilance this can be an effective and cost-efficient way to manage a small estate. However, the complexities of cabling, tracing and work orders can soon render a spreadsheet redundant as you chase your tail updating a growing network system.

For large estates it’s essential to have some sort of cable and asset management solution (ISO 18598 advises, but as yet is not mandatory) as it enables due diligence and processes as the network grows to help manage the estate. Adding new devices also requires mitigating risk, therefore ensuring you account for single points of failure and the impact a connection may have on multiple devices. Such detail may not so easily be tracked and updated on a spreadsheet.

The case for spreadsheets inevitably comes down to cost. Theoretically a spreadsheet is free versus a Cable and Asset Management Solution however the latter negates the costly and frustrating experience of your engineers tracing cables, guessing at switch capacity or dealing with an unwelcome device failure – perhaps this is a good time to re-allocate those resources for something more useful.

To find out more about cable and asset management solutions from ExcelRedstone please contact us via sales@excelredstone.com or call +44 (0)203 929 9915.

ExcelRedstone has over 20 years experience instigating and implementing cable and asset management solutions – we work with multiple vendors and determine the most suitable solution for our client’s needs which vary from application to environment.