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Patch panel frames actually matter, and it means something for the rest of the network

By Max Burkhalter
September 13, 2012
In one of the first few episodes of the Wonder Years, the narrator quips about how he grew up in an era when kids could walk to the park after dark without having to worry about ending up on the back of a milk carton. I often think of those days when small town and suburban America meant relative safety and security with a sense of nostalgia, especially these days when scams, phishing and other crimes force us to be more suspicious than we are welcoming and have removed much of the innocence from childhood.

Well, the innocence is gone in the data center too. I remember an era when all that mattered was making sure the outside of the facility was secure. Once people were inside the data center, you pretty much felt like you could trust them. Now, we have to put locks on everything, especially in a world where multiple clients have systems within a facility and regulatory guidelines are so strict that a third-party IT worker can barely look at a server without creating a problem with clients.

This suspicion has spread to the patch panel, where the lack of frames that are built with locks and other access control measures is becoming a problem. According to a recent Cabling Installation & Maintenance report, there is something of a revolution going on in the patch panel frame industry as more secure and specialized units are being built to provide security without sacrificing airflow and other important attributes.

This need for physical security is important throughout the data center network. Imagine if a disgruntled employee puts a wiretap on a CAT 5 cable going into a client server, records all of the data that travels through that part of the network and publishes it on the internet. The fallout would be potentially catastrophic.

This is one area where internal optical cabling systems can pay dividends. Fiber-optic cabling is much more difficult to physically hack because the signal format and cabling itself provides inherent security. Furthermore, optical cables can be equipped with sensors that identify any threat, allowing IT to respond immediately and remove the wiretap. To use fiber effectively for security purposes, while still controlling costs, you can use fiber to Ethernet media conversion to enable fiber deployment for much of the network, but still allow for copper infrastructure in locations where required.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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