The unplugging of cables by ‘helpful’ end users can cause serious chaos; chaos that could be prevented by a small piece of plastic. Joe Young reports.
Most integrators, I’m sure, have a client who’s an ‘expert’ – the type of person who thinks they know best and will tinker with equipment, until you have to return to site to fix their ‘improvements’. And it’s cables that seem to be most attractive to these people; they insist on changing or unplugging patch cords seemingly based on whims and the weather. Now, cable and connectivity specialist Platinum Tools has launched a simple yet effective product that provides a ‘lock-out’ system for Ethernet cables.
The main purpose of the EZ Datalock is to stop people accidently unplugging the wrong cable, but it will also prevent pranksters or kids pulling out patch cords and help provide peace of mind for owners of network systems in public areas such as hotels or schools.
Specifically, Platinum Tools hopes to attract clients from such areas as big data, the military, medical centres, financial institutions and any other organisation where downtime could have catastrophic impacts.
Essentially, the EZ-Datalock is a plastic pin that can be inserted into an Ethernet cable jack, to securely hold it in place, until it has been released by someone who has been deemed important enough to be a ‘key-holder’.
The lock simply slides through the Ethernet cable jack until it clicks in and to unlock the device, the key slides over the plastic pin until it latches on. When the key is pulled back, the pin will come with it.
Further, patented ‘OD-Flex’ technology allows the lock to provide snag-proof strain relief for most standard RJ45 and compatible cables with an external ground tab.
Distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Radio Parts, there is strong hope that the local market will readily adopt the EZ Datalock.
“We landed a sample shipment before Christmas, but we’ve only started showing our customer base this new product now,” says Radio Parts sales manager Michael Swann.
For Mike, the solution is economically attractive considering it is coming from the US and says “the cost needs to be viewed in comparison to expensive system downtime and ‘call out’ costs”.
“I think that the larger market will embrace this product for issue prevention,” he says.
The EZ Datalock works as a basic physical and visual deterrent for unauthorised access to networks but isn’t a be all and end all security device, he says. Up against a malicious removal attempt of an Ethernet cable the lock would come off second best to a screwdriver-wielding network villain.
According to Platinum Tools product developer John Phillips, the EZ Datalock is the result of client feedback.
“The product’s designer had worked extensively in networking products in the past and the idea for the EZ-Datalock came from feedback from clients saying ‘I wish I could put a padlock on my patch cable’,” he says.
Made from polycarbonate the EZ-Datalock is UL, RoHS, CSA and CE compliant. It is compatible with a cable jacket outside diameter in the range 5mm to 6.8mm..
Mike adds that for added security to a network, Radio Parts also offers port blockers from German manufacturer Lindy.
Port blockers can be locked into unused Ethernet ports, to inhibit unauthorised cables being plugged in.
Mike recommends the port blocker for people working with premade patch leads and the EZ-Datalock for people making up their own leads.
With many businesses losing a lot of money due to network downtimes the EZ-Datalock offers a simple practical solution.