City inventories telecom gear

When Lon Faison became supervisor of the Tempe, Ariz., telecommunications department, he found that the city's equipment inventory was stored in a dark, out-of-the-way place'one city employee's head.

The man 'did a good job trying to keep track of things,' Faison said. 'But he was the only one familiar with the physical network layer. I didn't know what we would do' if anything should happen to him.

The department was also responsible for every PC connection in the city's 40 buildings but had no way to track them.

One day Faison noticed a dusty box on a shelf. It held never-installed Crimp infrastructure management software from Cablesoft Inc. of Ojai, Calif. He called the company, which is now iTracs Corp. of Tempe, and said he needed to track circuits and connections and to show each building's location, floors and individual jacks.

Faison wound up with iTracs 6.0, which analyzes network equipment and cabling parts. It comes with an AutoCAD graphics engine from Autodesk Inc. of San Rafael, Calif., and a work order tracking module.

Time invested

The department expects it will take about a year to get iTracs up and running. 'We have to track where all the rooms are, the jack numbers and the cross connections,' Faison said. All the data goes into a Microsoft SQL Server database running under Windows 2000 Server.

Cable engineer Glen Cronk described setting up the system as a 'discovery process.'

'Once we identify all the cables, we'll be able to tell what we'll need and clean out old technology,' Cronk said. They will toss a lot of Category 3 cabling and 'get a mirror image of what's in the communications closet,' he said. 'Technicians won't have to fumble around for stuff.'

ITracs goes down to the port level, Cronk said. Once the database is complete, technicians can double-click on a schematic drawing of a circuit to see its entire path. The database will incorporate JPEG images and computer-aided design files.

The Phoenix suburb, population 200,000, is no telecom slouch. Tempe runs an asynchronous transfer mode network and is testing voice over IP on 100 city PCs.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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