Office & Enterprise

AIM: luxury or necessity?

Rahul Rathod May 13, 2019

Nexans LANsense AIM software

Technology evolution and growing demands are resulting in increasingly complex, high-performing networks and cabling, as well as a rise in CAPEX. What’s more, the importance of IT network systems is increasing significantly. Businesses - especially related to Telecom, Banking, Government, Defence and Media – expect at least 99% uptime. How does Automated Infrastructure Management (AIM) play an important role in meeting demand and managing these areas?

Theory of evolution

Today’s technology evolution is exponential. Capacity and performance in the areas of power, data, and computation have grown enormously. This has resulted in marked increase in demand for Power, Bandwidth, and internet connection speeds. Growing interest in applications such as POE, IoT, Cloud and Industry 4.0 will drive up the requirements even further. Ericsson predicts the Internet may connect 50 billion IoT-enabled devices by 2020, while IDC gives a far higher number - some 212 billion.

So how is this changing technology paradigm related to documentation and administration of cabling and cabling infrastructures? In this age, for businesses to stay competitive, productive and enjoy profitable growth, they must not only focus on output, but also on IT-supporting infrastructure. After all, this is critical and provides the foundation of business. Downtime and error are to be avoided at all cost - which is why documentation must be flawless and up-to-date.

Clear definition and scope

The idea behind AIM has been around for more than two decades. Although the name may have changed over the years (IIM, IPLM...), the core fundamental functionality remains the same: 100% accurate automated documentation of the cabling infrastructure and connected equipment. Scoping an AIM solution to an end-user was never easy due to lack of consistency and there was often been a gap between what AIM systems do and what the users wanted them to do. Some expected AIM to be a DCIM tool, some expected it to be an IP telephony management/PBX tool and some expected AIM to be a Network Management Application.

Times change

The situation has changed.  Standards like ISO 14763-2/EN50174-2 recommends the need for electronic record keeping in certain types of installation based on their level of complexity and recommends recording the automated information based on the complexity of operations of administration system and here is now a clear definition of AIM systems thanks to the published ISO/IEC 18598.

This not only defines the scope of AIM but also addresses the requirements for a management solution to be called an AIM solution. It also defines interfaces that allow AIM to communicate with other systems, supporting building management functions such as enhanced intrusion detection. In addition, some modern solutions include practical benefits such as allowing unused ports to be reassigned to improve port utilisation, and automated routing.

Has the market adapted?

Resolving the scoping issue does not necessarily mean the end of the challenges facing AIM. The practice of using traditional documentation methods such as spreadsheets, Visio, SharePoint and software documentation tools continues to exist. However, these documentation tools do not guarantee the efficiency and 100% accuracy of updated physical layer documentation provided by AIM.

Here, the expression ‘Time is Money’ can be interpreted as the ability to diagnose a problem and how quickly it can be resolved.  Traditional (software) documentation tools increase the risk of error, which could have serious consequences for organizations in the shape of higher costs, lost business, reputational damage or poor customer service. Troubleshooting will take significantly longer, periods of downtime will be extended unnecessarily and implementing and testing Moves, Adds and Changes will be extremely challenging. Especially as port densities and the number of physical connections increases.

Luxury or necessity?

Various reasons are given for not choosing AIM. Is the cost justifiable? How important is it really to manage cabling system once it has been installed? Can’t we simply rely on basic network management?

ISO/IEC 18598 (especially clause 6 and clause 7) make it absolutely clear that the benefits of choosing AIM outweigh any reasons for not doing so. Cabling, connectivity and active IT infrastructure represent an important investment for any size or type of business, justified by the growth opportunities presented by today’s business world. Investment in structured cabling, cable systems, and connected equipment could be between 5%-15% of total CAPEX Considering the risks and costs introduced by poor management of cabling and connected devices, any savings in this area are false economy.

About the author

Rahul Rathod

Rahul Rathod is a product manager at Nexans Cabling Solutions responsible for LANsense, Nexans’ A.I.M solution. Rahul has an Electrical Engineering background and a Masters degree in International Business. His prior experience was related to the Power, Cooling and DCIM systems for Data Centres.

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