R&M AG Chief Marketing Officer Andreas Rüsseler recently made the case for paying attention to the needs of the increasingly complex network infrastructure needed to manage the digitalized economy: “Cabling with copper and fiber optic systems is still required as the physical foundation for digitalization – in the same way that tracks are required for transportation by rail. But these days it is more than just a question of cabling.” The building and network infrastructure themselves should be digitized as much as possible.
Ycharts placed the percentage of retail sales that involved the e-commerce niche in some way at 8.40% for Q3 2016. While not insignificant, this is one of several factors that are included in a digitalized economy that includes apps, computers, data centers, and the billions of things that are connected to the Internet – the Internet of Things. Network installations are as important as all of these things and must be as reliable as possible. “First of all, the basis of a network needs to have the right dimensions and level of reliability in order to cope with the wide-ranging applications of the future,” said Andreas Rüsseler. Market studies conducted by IT consultancy company Capgemini show that more than half of all CIOs agree and intend to make digitalization a priority.
OSI Physical Layer Explained
R&M believes that the cabling should be fully integrated into the digitalization process from the start. Cabling represents the physical layer of standard OSI networking models, over which binary bits travel whenever data is sent from one computing device to another. R&M proposes that a full virtual profile that includes the type, function, and status of every connector and cable should be recorded digitally and managed centrally, with control being fully automated via a web application. This would simplify network management tasks that might otherwise become impossible on networks that are growing in size and complexity and need to support growing demand for bandwidth brought about by concepts like the Internet of Things and increased reliance on cloud services.
Internet of Things Explained
This is no small matter when Cisco estimates that 50 billion sensors could be connected to the Internet of Things by 2020 and Intel predicts that as many as 300 billion “things” that include an increasing number of appliances and whole buildings could have an Internet connection by 2030. “Someone is going to have to manage all of these connections and devices,” said Andreas Rüsseler. This will increase the demand for integrated network solutions based on comprehensive planning that include the technology and software for digitalization, monitoring, and management, as well as cabling systems.
Not surprisingly, R&M has one such solution, which it calls R&MinteliPhy. This solution is capable of modeling the layout of cabling used by networks of any scale in a three-dimensional digital representation of the data center infrastructure. “We are gradually adding software and services to our cabling portfolio,” explained Andreas Rüsseler. R&M is building up the expertise needed to be able to manage and support IT processes relating to infrastructure. The company is also working on further developments, with the aim of making the management of data networks more user-friendly. R&MinteliPhy can be used as a component of a superordinate data center infrastructure management (DCIM) system in cases where manual monitoring might be impossible.
The example that R&M uses most often is that of a datacenter that might be the size of a football field or bigger. As any employee of an enterprise-level cloud service provider might tell you, one of the biggest headaches is making sure that the entire infrastructure of the datacenters remains up and running smoothly. “Without digital planning, stocktaking, and online management of the entire data center, it is no longer possible for IT providers to present services with high availability. Detailed information and status updates in real time are an absolute requirement,” said Andreas Rüsseler. Monitoring services for the higher-level networking layers are important, but a monitoring service that can also tell the IT staff whether a physical connector might have worked its way loose is even more valuable. In fact, R&M estimates that more than half of all datacenter failures could be tracked down to operational errors and other faults at the passive network infrastructure level. This could be rectified by being able to monitor the physical layer of the network using a solution like R&MinteliPhy.