Intelligent SCS in Russian

    Hello, respectable ladies and gentlemen.
    Much has been written about intelligent SCS - or otherwise Intelligent Physical Layer Management Solution (IPLMS), cable infrastructure management systems, interactive control systems (SIU). I want to raise this topic again, because I intend to talk about the intellectual SCS, built on the basis of Russian inventions.

    Details below.

    First, a short digression on existing solutions, so that it is clear why create another one.
    There are two ways to organize SCS (structured cabling systems) - inter-connect and cross-connect. Let's start with the latter, since in the world of intelligent SCS it dominates (in my opinion, only because there are no normal solutions for interconnect).
    Cross-connect is when using patch cords connect the ports of two patch panels, as in the picture.

    The task of intelligent SCS is to automatically monitor the actual connection of pairs of port patch panels to each other. Very briefly about what is available on the market today.
    1. iPatch - the ports of the patch panels have sensors that trigger when there is an RJ45 connector in the panel port.
    2. Many options (the founder of RiT), when two or one additional conductor is added to the patch cord, and additional contacts are added to the connectors. This additional communication channel is used to track connections. By the way, in the description of one of its patents, RiT suggested using the STP patch cord screen for an additional communication channel.
    3. By analogy, the MIIM system uses the unused patch cord bandwidth as an additional channel. That is, it transmits DC signals through the cords of the patch cord between the panels to track switching.
    4. It is logical to use RFID tags to identify the connector. The scheme is commonplace: each port of the patch panel has a small RFID antenna, and an RFID tag is installed on the RJ45. When connecting RJ45 to the port, the antenna reads its identifier. Example, Future-Patch.
    5. Similarly, instead of RFID tags for identification, you can use a 1-Wire pin identification chip, as implemented by Quareo.

    Now about the solutions that the Russian company Ucable offers. Since the solutions were developed for installation on any patch panels without being tied to the panel manufacturer, and the ports on different panels have different locations, several technical tricks were used to place the sensors.

    A pair of IR diode - phototransistor was installed on the mini-boards. Thus, we obtained a sensor that detects the presence of RJ45 in the patch panel port (as in iPatch). And the mini-boards themselves are glued to a long printed circuit board with a bus using adhesive tape having anisotropic electrical conductivity. Thus, the sensors can be installed on a patch panel with an arbitrary port arrangement.
    Additionally, if desired, an RFID antenna can be mounted behind the length of the board. Since we don’t know the location of the ports, one of the options is to make many, many RFID antennas opposite each place of the potential placement of the patch panel port (as competitors wish). But it seems that in Russia long (445 mm) multilayer printed circuit boards have not yet learned how to make, and the design of the board is complicated. Therefore, a simple RFID antenna is used in the form of a PCB conductor located immediately above the ports of the patch panel.

    She reads in a crowd all the labels on the connectors connected to the panel. It is clear that the port number where Rj45 is connected cannot be determined, but there are IR sensors for this. As soon as the connector is inserted into the port, using the IR sensor we determine the port, and the appearance of a new identifier among the many RFID tags allows you to identify RJ45 and, accordingly, the patch cord.
    For connectors serial RFID tags are used, which are sold in bulk at $ 0.1 in China

    Let's move on to another SCS construction scheme. For SCS built according to the interconnect scheme, when the ports of the patch panel are connected directly to the ports of the switch, today you can apply the following options:

    1. Equip the switch with the same sensors (somehow hung on top) as the patch panel (options are described in the cross-connection diagram).
    2. Panduit does this. It uses a special patch cord with an additional core, which helps to track the electrical connection with the screen port contact of the switch. First, connect the cord to the desired port on the switch, then stick the other end of the patch cord into the additional service port of the patch panel equipped with 100Base-T (theoretically, you can use any Ethnernet port). By what port of the switch has risen (or the MAC address table) it is easy to understand where the first connector of the cord is connected. Then they take out the cord of their service connector and plug it into the needed port of the switch. With the help of the aforementioned additional core, the integrity of the connection is monitored, that is, while the core is connected to the ground, the connection is constant.
    3. On the MIIM website it is indicated that it supports the interconnect scheme, but how it works, I can’t understand. Maybe someone knows how the presence of a direct current signal in the patch cord for the interconnect circuit can help?

    Personally, I do not like any of these schemes, so I came up with my own version.

    The idea is that when transmitting an Ethernet signal via UTP, spurious electromagnetic radiation (PEMI) occurs near the panel connector. In this case, the "raising / lowering" of the port on the switch is strictly correlated with the occurrence of PEMI. If you place the appropriate sensors and process the logs from the switch behind the patch panel, you can restore the connection map in the rack between the patch panels and the switches by comparing the response time of the sensors and the setup time of the Ethernet connection.
    I realize that the system has a drawback: until you establish an Ethernet connection, you cannot build a connection card. But, perhaps, functionally this is still the best solution in the world for an intelligent SCS operating according to the interconnect scheme. By the way, according to cross-connection schemes, PEMI sensors also obviously work.

    And “for dessert” I want to imagine how one can make a more advanced intellectual SCS on the basis of another Russian invention. The vast majority (or maybe all) of modern enterprise-class switches have a built-in reflectometer (TDR) to measure the length and integrity of the cable connected to the switch port. Moreover, you can start the OTDR without interference and with an established Ethernet connection. If you install a sensor on the ports of the patch panel that receives the OTDR signals, you can draw up a connection map without waiting for the switch port to be raised. I started the OTDR on the switch port and looked at which port of the panel the sensor worked.

    So, in my opinion, the best intelligent UTP patch panel in the world should look like this. At the level of basic functionality, it’s just a “brainless” panel that can be upgraded to intellectual by installing an additional fee. Minimum “brains” will be given by OTDR sensors and the presence of an Ethernet signal in the cable path (in case there is no OTDR in the switch). The panel is planned for UTP, but it makes sense to install ports on it that support contact with the screen of the screened patch cord. If desired, the user can use any shielded patch cords so that, as in the Panduit solution described above, continuously monitor the integrity of the connection between patch panels or panels and switches. If the user just needs a periodic check with an OTDR, then you can get by with unshielded cords.
    Again, at the request of the client, the panel can be equipped with sensors that stupidly monitor the presence of the Rj45 connector in the panel port, and of course with light indicators, of course. And the most demanding (and wealthy) users can put an RFID system on the panel.
    Someday we will make such an intelligent SCS.

    PS Continuation of the topic in a new article .

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