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Network Cabling Basics: What to Expect from Your Cabling Installer

When planning the move or upgrade of your organization’s network infrastructure, a number of important considerations must be taken into account before you decide to contact a qualified network cabling and wiring installer.  Regardless of which vendor you choose, all will require some basic information about your new facilities as well as your current and future technology requirements.

Some of the questions you will be asked from your contractor are:

  1. When will you be moving?
  2. How many voice and data drops will you need?
  3. What type of construction is your new office space?
  4. Will the new space require plenum or non-plenum cabling?
  5. Will you be moving an existing phone system?

To find our more, go to:   www.wilsontechgroup.com

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How to Determine Your Network Cabling and Wiring Needs

The conveyance media you choose for your structured cabling implementation is determined by many factors, the most important of which are your current bandwith needs, your network environment, your expected future bandwith requirements and your budget.  The answers to these questions help you to identify which cabling solution will best meet your specific requirements.

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Determining Bandwith Requirements

There are several ways to analyze network traffic, but the best and most accurate method is to utilize a tool called a network analyzer.  Among the simplest and most ubiquitous of these tools is a utility that is built into all flavors of Windows servers called Network Monitor. The Network Monitor utility gives detailed insight into traffic on a network segment and can detail broadcast traffic and specific packets transmitted to or from a machine.  There are also several other third-party products such as Ethereal (free), as well as commercial analyzers such as Network General Fast Ethernet Sniffer, Cinco NetXray, AG Group EtherPeek, Novell LANalyzer for Windows, and Intel LANDesk Traffic Analyst among many others.  It is important to note that when using a network analyzer to monitor your current network’s bandwith usage, that you sample data over the course of several days (or even weeks), and that you do so throughout different times of the day.  Doing this will ensure that you make the most accurate assessment of your network’s bandwith requirements.

To learn more, go to:  www.wilsontechgroup.com

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Moving to the New Office: The Voice and Data Network Infrastructure

Be aware of the details of the new location’s voice and data network infrastructure, relative to your current and future needs.  While your office manager or some other person in charge of moving may be proud of the fact that he/she has found a great deal on a new office space, it is of utmost that you, as the IT person, be aware of what you are moving into.

From a network cabling/IT perspective, it pays to take careful stock of the new location.  If you are a growing multimedia company moving into a space previously occupied by a financial services firm, be aware that the network infrastructure of the previous tenants may not be sufficient for your company’s needs.  The previous company may have been content using a network rated at 100 Mbps for their 20 employees (CAT 5), but even only 10 employees in a multimedia design will likely have a far more demanding bandwith requirements than 20 people in a financial services firm – which could require a complete re-wire of the entire office.

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Moving to the New Office: Placement of Existing Structured Cabling

Make careful note of the physical layout of the new location, paying particular attention to the location of voice and data network jacks, as well as electrical outlets.  Some property managers can make detailed plans and schematics available to you, which can be an invaluable resource.  If not, you should carefully measure each room in the new location, and reduce all rooms/areas to a diagram.  It should be as accurate as possible.  Note on the diagram as precisely as possible how the existing infrastructure is laid out.  Include power outlets, and existing network and phone outlets.

The main idea of the above is to give you a visual sense of where, physically, the puzzle pieces of your office will fit.  It is one thing to imagine it in your head or to make a general, rough sketch, but finding out on moving day that a space you had intended for a network printer does not have a network cabling jack or the correct type of power outlet could cause you unnecessary headaches.  Try different configurations and consult with your coworkers and staff for input.  Once done, consider how your plan relates to the existing infrastructure.

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Determining Future Bandwith Requirements

It is rare that people think to factor in the growth of a company, or the launching of new products and services when estimating future bandwith requirements.  But, failure to make an accurate assessment of future bandwith requirements can end up costing a lot of money.  Unfortunately, estimating future bandwith is both complex and often speculative.  As an example, it might seem that doubling the number of employees in a company would result in a doubling of the network bandwith demand.  Rarely is it so straightforward, however.  Consider that several of the new employees might be multimedia authors, who generally have much higher bandwith requirements.  Also consider that bringing on several new sales people means bringing on the back-and-forth communication between those sales people and all their customers.  Perhaps the sales department has decided to host an in-house, web-based CRM implementation – this could result in an increase in bandwith requirements that are far out of proportion to the rest of the users on the network.  Because of such factors as these, it is important that a network administrator have knowledge of the future plans for a business when planning a structured cabling implementation.  Generally speaking, it is far less costly to “future proof” a structured cabling implementation than it is to replace the existing cabling once it becomes apparent that it is not sufficient to meet the demands of the network.

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Moving to the New Office: Look Beyond Known Needs and Plan Ahead

In a fully wired office, you will need power and network access for each computer or device, as well as sufficient power outlets and telephone jacks.  Note any area where coverage is lacking.  Depending on how you see your office expanding, also consider future uses for areas.  If a wall is going to be empty, could there conceivably be a desk there at some point?   Or a network printer, scanning or CD duplicating system?  Even if it is unlikely, it is wise to have additional network wiring and access points run to currently unused areas.  Adding an additional few feet of wire now is much cheaper than expanding later.

If your office will be hosting one or more servers, take into consideration the location of the future server room.  Will the future location accommodate the number of servers in your office?  Will it require new data drops to be installed?  Is it properly air conditioned and, if not, can it be fitted with air conditioning?

Learn more at:  www.wilsontechgroup.com

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