How Port Replication Became the Superhero Structured Cabling Solution it is Today

How Port Replication Became the Superhero Structured Cabling Solution it is Today

By: Josh Taylor | Director – CABLExpress Product Management

 

We were recently asked, “What drove CABLExpress to develop so many options for passive optical port replication in your fiber enclosure product sets?”

The question conjures up fond memories, but the answer is simple: 

Our customers.

Like any good superhero origin story, the tale of port replication™ begins with some evil villains and how a hero decided to stand up to them. The villains? Lack of data center space, cabling confusions, and downtime. The hero? You guessed it – port replication!

Where do our customers come in? They’re the ones who provided the concept and made port replication the hero it is.

Chapter I: Data Centers in Turmoil

The story begins more than seven years ago, when we increased our focus on defining the challenges that customers face with fiber optic enclosures (or patch panels) and cabling in the data center. We were determined to find what was at the root of these challenges and figure out how to solve them. We opened up ongoing dialogues with our customers.

At first, what we kept hearing was “density, density, density.” It seemed that data center space, and the lack thereof, was a big issue for people. Our first villain was rearing its ugly head, but we decided to dig deeper.

Density certainly is an issue, but as we learned more we found that most people who worked with “ultra-high density” fiber enclosures actually did not like them because they were so challenging from a cable management standpoint. It was one of those situations that works in theory, but is extremely difficult to maintain in reality. In short, they are a real pain to work with and only to be used them when you absolutely have to.

We asked more questions and heard that because of the ultra-high density patch panels, mistakes were happening. Our second villain had arrived: cabling confusion. During any maintenance or moves, adds and changes (MACs), the wrong ports were being disconnected. It made communication challenging from row to row. People couldn’t figure out which port on the switch equaled which port on the patch panel.

And that’s when our third, and most dastardly, villain showed up. This confusion would cause downtime in many instances – and we all know nobody wants that! So what could we do?

Chapter II: A Hero is Born

These issues became the impetus for us to design our fiber enclosures to truly replicate the hardware they are connected to. From our conversations and from a number of site visits, we knew this was a critical need for users. It became our goal to provide fiber optic enclosures that were dense (but not too dense) and that could replicate any switch on the market. This would remove the challenges for users having to convert port numbers or having to come up with complicated labeling schemes (that only seem to be accurate for a day or two). The mirroring needed to be exact.

Thus was port replication born! From the physical orientation (vertical or horizontal) in the rack, as well as the port number on the label, port replication makes it very simple to avoid costly mistakes! This solution has been very well received by many users and the word has been spreading ever since. Our approach to port replication offers users a simple solution to a challenging problem. And it sends the villains terrorizing our data centers running scared!

Chapter III: So why isn’t everyone doing this?

This is the question we ask ourselves all the time. All we can do is speculate that due to the multiple orientation and port numbering options, the increased number of part numbers makes it a challenge for many manufacturers to offer. This causes a need for increased training for sales and support teams, as well as additional inventory management.

But to us, these challenges are worth it. We’re able to offer a solution that greatly simplifies cable management, allows for easier installation and MACs, and significantly decreases the risk of downtime. Port replication is the superhero we’ve all been waiting for and it even has its own rallying cry…

“Respect Layer One!”


Want to learn even more about the value of port replication in your data center cabling infrastructure? Check out this informative white paper.