Database for customer assignments [WAS Re: Data Center Wiring Standards]

Rick Kunkel kunkel at
Tue Sep 12 17:30:42 UTC 2006

Thanks much for all the info folks.  I'm sure I can amalgamate this info
into a good plan, or at least a pie-in-the-sky place to reach for.

On a related but dissimilar topic:  What are people using for storing
customer assignment info and stuff?  Right now, we've got an Excel
spreadsheet covering patch panels, another covering colo customers and the
types of usage plans that they're on, and our general customer database
that hasn't been updated since the colo biz has picked up, and is thus
currently poorly equipped to deal with it.  Additionally, we use RTG for
usage stuff, and a combination of well-commented DNS zone files and
customized Excel spreadsheets for managing IP Space.

Needless to say, the integration of these things is pretty non-existent.

Are people using off-the-shelf products (freeware or otherwise) for these
types of things, or are they custom designing their own?  I've recently
started to create a "proper" database that stores patch panel, switchport,
customer, VLAN, and usage information, but the queries I'm dealing with in
an attempt to extract information from it are so complex that I just can't
seem to justify spending the time on this, when -- regardless of the
low-techiness of them -- the current method of spreadsheets and such gets
by.  Eventually though, I'm sure it's the scalability that will be the

I've messed briefly with IPTrack (or was that the old name for it?) for IP
address management, but nothing else too much.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance,

Rick Kunkel

On Sat, 9 Sep 2006, Joe Greco wrote:

> > Rick Kunkel <kunkel at> writes:
> > 
> > > Can anyone tell me the standard way to deal with patch panels, racks, and
> > > switches in a data center used for colocation?
> > 
> > Network Cabling Handbook by Chris Clark is a bit dated (5 years old)
> > but probably should be on your bookshelf anyway, particularly since it
> > is ridiculously cheap used/new on Amazon (I got my copy a couple of
> > years ago after a friend tipped me off that they were on sale for
> > $5.99 on clearance at Micro Center).  It's mostly geared to the
> > enterprise but it does have a chapter on doing communication rooms
> > which is probably a good starting point.  ISBN 0-07-213233-7
> > 
> > Also, no substitute for visiting your competition and taking a survey
> > of how others, particularly larger datacenters,  are doing it.  :)
> Having seen so many different things over the years, I don't actually think
> there's any one particular right way to do it.
> Is the data center carrier neutral?  If so, that tends to lead to solutions
> where circuits need to be run point-to-point (whether physically or
> virtually).
> Are customers expected to be requiring large amounts of bandwidth?  If not,
> aggregation based solutions may make more sense (such as putting a switch in
> each rack).
> What's the smallest and largest customer footprint?  If you're going to sell
> 5 racks to a customer, in a shared cage with doors and side panels, and the
> customer needs multiple gigE connections internally, do you want to try to
> solve that problem as part of your site strategy, or do you figure it out on
> a case by case basis?
> Possible solutions are varied.
> For a colo where they'll be buying your bandwidth, and nobody's using
> gigabits of it, for example, there's an excellent manageability argument
> to be made for running a (single, pair of) gig uplink to each cabinet and
> having a 24- or 48-port 1U switch in the cabinet.  You will have a minimal
> amount of wiring, which makes problem resolution easier, and you can even 
> do vlan stuff to allow customers with equipment in different cabinets to 
> have virtual private segments.
> I've seen providers that put a 24-port patch panel in each cab and then
> ran it back to a central switching point, which is arguably more useful
> but eats up a lot of wiring, and you have a fundamental problem in that
> some cabs may be populated with colo'ed 1U's (so you hit the wall or have
> to add another panel) and others have a single customer with a bunch of
> goofy equipment, and they just want a link to their own router/firewall,
> so you only use 1/24th the cable.
> Facilities like Equinix probably don't have a lot of realistic options
> other than what they already do, given the sheer complexity of it all.
> ... JG
> -- 
> Joe Greco - Network Services - Milwaukee, WI -
> "We call it the 'one bite at the apple' rule. Give me one chance [and] then I
> won't contact you again." - Direct Marketing Ass'n position on e-mail spam(CNN)
> With 24 million small businesses in the US alone, that's way too many apples.

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