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Environmentals

479817It’s not uncommon for small businesses to begin operation by stacking server hardware and network appliances on a desk or shelf. Though such a deployment is inexpensive, the pile of equipment invariably expands into an unmanageable mess with the growth of the company. Exposed equipment is also completely open to physical tampering and is a ticking time bomb for accidents such as coffee spills, dust or even workers tripping over wires.

However, rack-mount equipment is designed specifically to properly house this type of hardware. While these tend to be pricier than their non-rack mount equivalents, it’s arguable that being easier to manage far exceeds the cost premium. In addition, shelves and drawers designed for mounting onto the server rack are widely available; these let racks work with non-rack mount appliances as necessary.

Setting up a server rack is more than just twisting a few screws to secure the equipment into place. Proper cable management can’t be overstated, as just about every piece of equipment in the rack is linked with Ethernet cables. Intra-cabinet wiring aside, it makes sense to terminate cable runs for Ethernet LAN points for desktop computers, IP cameras and other network appliances at the rack.

Finally, don’t skimp on labeling and documenting your setup, even for relatively simple deployments. What may be obvious to the employer setting it up could be missed by a new IT staffer or a vendor contracted to work on certain aspects of the system. Time savings aside, proper labeling reduces the likelihood of catastrophic mistakes such as a mission-critical system getting unplugged or restarted without adequate warning.

The simplest way to properly label your infrastructure? Purchase a label printer from a hardware shop. Servers and network appliances should be labeled with unique descriptive names and their IP addresses. Ditto for other equipment such as keyboard, video and mouse switches, NAS appliances, routers, data backup devices and redundant hardware.

Detailed notes describing important procedures relating to your on-premises hardware should be printed out and attached to the server cabinet with tape or refrigerator magnets. These notes should contain important operating instructions relating to networking, data backup or shutting down (or starting up) the equipment in the event of a power outage.

Cabling

data-cabling1Structured Cabling… is defined as building or campus telecommunications cabling infrastructure that consists of a number of standardized smaller elements (structured).

A properly designed and installed structured cabling system provides a cabling infrastructure that delivers predictable performance as well as has the flexibility to accommodate moves, adds and changes; maximizes system availability, provides redundancy; and future proofs the usability of the cabling system.

With an unorganized messy cabling infrastructure, mistakes are commonly made. Incorrect ports are unplugged. Even worse is the messy cabling that gets in the way. Trying to remove a single cable from a large tangled mess can cause stress on the other cables. This stress can lead to network and channel errors in the hardware that are very difficult to trace.

Airflow: If a point to point method is used, the front and potentially the sides of the switch are congested with cabling bulk. This impedes the airflow that the switch needs to operate. This also translates to underfloor cooling; cabling congestion in this space hinders the airflow of the CRAC unit and can cause cooling issues.

Why Network Designers Specify Particular Brands of Optical Fibre for Their Systems

People sometimes wonder why network designers specify particular brands of optical fibre for their systems, such as Corning SMF-28e. Usually, the designer wants to guarantee the highest optical performance in the network for his customer and ensure fibre compatibility. Incidentally, all of the cables provided by Rustyice Solutions contain genuine Corning fibre.

On a large network installation, there may be several installation contractors working on the project. Using compatible fibre is essential for ensuring that the part of the network you install will work correctly with the rest of the system. Before you bid a job, make sure that your cable vendor can provide the correct fibre.

Singlemode Compatibility Issues

There are several domestic fibre manufacturers that produce “standard” SMF-28e singlemode fibre. These companies spec their fibre as being fully compatible with or equivalent to “standard” singlemode fibre. However, if you are adding “sub standard fibre” to an existing network, you may run into some compatibility issues. These include:

* Operating Wavelengths: Corning has enhanced their product to carry wavelengths from 1280-1700nm. However, some “sub standard” fibre still has an attenuation peak in the 1400-1500nm window. These fibres won’t be compatible with many of the new Fibre-to-the-Home networks that need to operate at around 1490nm.

* Index of Refraction (IR): The IR of some “sub standard” fibres is slightly different from the IR of Corning fibre. This difference can cause additional optical loss in a system where the two different fibres meet. This can also cause confusing OTDR results. Under certain conditions, a slight difference of IR between two spliced fibres can produce a “gainer” on an OTDR trace. A “gainer” is an OTDR splice event that appears to gain optical power through the splice instead of showing a slight loss.

* Splicing: Fusion splicing an “sub standard” fibre to a Corning fiber may require you to set custom splicing parameters in order for your fusion splice machine to fuse properly.

Multimode Considerations

Compatibility problems are not confined to singlemode fibre. There is an issue with multimode fibre regarding “On-Center Laser Launch.”

Newer Corning InfiniCor multimode fibres are designed to work in laserbased protocols, such as Gigabit Ethernet, without requiring mode-conditioning patchcords. These new fibres allow you to launch a laser directly into the center of the fibre core without inducing modal dispersion at fast transmission speeds. However, older multimode fibres, and some “sub standard” fibres, won’t work in a gigabit network without some sort of off-center launch mode conditioning. If a non-compatible multimode fibre is placed directly into a gigabit network, the network’s transmission rate will drop significantly.

Just what is structured cabling?

Over time voice and data cabling needs have merged. Today, cabling infrastructures are designed to support voice, data and video as well as other building communications services such as video conferencing, cable TV and security applications like CCTV systems.

The preferred cabling media in the UK is either unshielded or shielded balanced twisted pair cables which have advanced to a stage in development where a bandwidth of over 200MHz is now available.

Each communications cable provides four twisted pairs between two points in a given network. Structured cabling is a building’s telecommunications cabling infrastructure. The overall infrastructure consists of various smaller elements known as subsystems.

These subsystems include (but are not limited to):

—    Backbone cabling which connects between the entrance facilities, equipment rooms and telecommunications rooms.

—    Horizontal cabling which connects telecommunications rooms to specific outlets on the floor.

—    Telecommunications rooms which house the equipment connecting the backbone and horizontal cabling.

The design and installation of structured cabling is governed by a set of standards for data or voice communications, using category 5 or category 6 cable and modular sockets. (Cables can also be known as Cat 5e or Cat 6). These standards outline how to lay the cabling in a “star formation”. This means that all outlets are terminated at a central patch panel (normally 19 inch rack-mounted inside the communications cabinet within the telecommunications room – this is also sometimes referred to as a server room). From this patch panel it can be decided how these connections will be used. Each outlet can be ‘patched’ into a data network switch, or into a ‘telecoms patch panel’ which forms a bridge into a private branch exchange (PBX) telephone system – this makes the connection a voice port rather than a data port.

Although structured cabling standards do not demand it, it is common practice to color code patch panel cables to identify the type of connection. Current data cabling standards specify that all eight connectors in Cat5, Cat 5e and Cat 6 cable are connected, this means that you cannot ‘double-up’ or use one cable for both voice and data.

Structured cabling schemes provide connections from individual points around a building to a central patching location within a communications cabinet. Voice switch, LAN hub and telecommunications services are presented at the patch panel and peripherals can be cross-connected to deliver the required service wherever they are needed around the building.

Structured Cabling is the glue that connects everything – from network services, such as ISDN, ADSL, WAN, and LAN to multimedia, voice and data. Rustyice Solutions cabling infrastructure can be configured and tailored to meet new demands, and can accommodate any moves staff need to make, either individually or collectively, on a temporary or permanent basis.