MPO vs. MTP: What’s the difference?

MPO stands for multi-fibre push-on connector. It is a connector for multi-fibre ribbon cable that generally contains 6, 8, 12 or 24 fibres. It is defined by IEC-61754-7 and TIA-604-5-D, also known as FOCIS 5. The MPO connector, combined with lightweight ribbon cable, represents a huge technological advancement over traditional multi-fibre cables. It’s lighter, more compact, easier to install and less expensive.

A single MPO connector replaces up to 12 or 24 fibre strands in a single connector. This very high density means lower space requirements and reduced costs for your installation. Traditional, tight-buffered multi-fibre cable needs to have each fibre individually terminated by a skilled technician. But MPO fibre optic cable, which carries multiple fibres, comes pre-terminated. Just plug it in and you’re ready to go.

MPO connectors feature an intuitive push-pull latching sleeve mechanism with an audible click upon connection and are easy to use. The MPO connector is similar to the MT-RJ connector. The MPO’s ferrule surface of 2.45 x 6.40 mm is slightly bigger than the MT-RJ’s, and the latching mechanism works with a sliding sleeve latch rather than a push-in latch.

The MPO connector can be either male or female. You can tell the male connector by the two alignment pins protruding from the end of the ferrule. MPO female connectors will have holes in the ferrule to accept the alignment pins from the male connector. The MPO ferrule is generally flat for multimode applications and angled for single-mode applications.

MPO connectors are also commonly called MTP® connectors, which is a registered trademark of US Conec. The MTP connector is an MPO connector engineered with particular enhancements to improve optical and mechanical performance. Significant MTP enhancements include an elliptical pin shape, a floating ferrule design, a removable housing and more. Details can be found at usconec.com. MPO and MTP connectors are compatible.

A 12-strand MPO connector features 12 fibres in a straight line, 1–12, left to right.

A 24-strand connector features two rows of fibre 1–12 and 13–24 with the white dot also indicating pin 1.

Each connector has a key on one side of the connector body. When the key sits on top, it is referred to as key up. When the key sits on the bottom, it’s called key down.

When planning your system, keep in mind that you can’t mix and match 12-strand and 24-strand cable versions.

Find out more about our MPO/MTP cables and fibre services, or contact us today for a free consultation.

Technology for Smarter Meeting Spaces

Avoid overbooking your meeting rooms and hold more efficient meetings with smart room booking and automated room control. Innovative, easy-to-use solutions can help you focus on your meeting, not on the technology.

Room booking

A meeting room booking system ensures your spaces are used to maximum ability. It makes it faster and easier for your team to find an available meeting space, instantly reserve a room or make last-minute changes such as extending the meeting time.

Many scheduling systems are accessible from a desktop, mobile device or convenient touch panel immediately outside the room. At a glance you can see the room name, current meeting and its duration, as well as the extended calendar for future scheduling. Some touch panels feature LED indicator lights, so people can easily determine from a distance if a room is occupied or available.

Intuitive room booking systems require no programming, and are quick and simple to set up. For ease of implementation, choose a system that integrates with your existing programs, such as Outlook® or G Suite™.

Room control

Once inside your meeting room, you can keep your meeting running smoothly with help from a room control system. Using a touch-screen interface, desktop and wall panels, or a smart phone, you can lower screens, dim lights and begin your presentation. Comprehensive room control solutions enable you to control multiple items from one control panel, including the room’s automation system as well as multimedia, AV, KVM and IP-enabled devices.

Even if you’re not actually in the meeting room, a control system can provide you with remote access. This enables you to set up the room in advance with the swipe of a touch panel. It also gives you the ability to deliver your presentation remotely.

Don’t worry if your existing system and devices are several years old; many meeting room automation solutions can integrate with new and not-so-new technology.

Choose flexible, scalable solutions

When considering a room booking system or control system, choose a provider who will work with you to create a custom interface to meet the needs of your specific applications. It is a good idea to select systems that are scalable to accommodate your current environment as well as future growth.

Black Box offers smart booking and control systems to maximise your spaces and streamline your meetings. Click to learn more about how IN-SESSION™ Meeting Room Booking System and ControlBridge™ Multisystem and Room Control  can enhance your operations.

‘How to’ Guide for Specifying an IT Cabling System [Part 1] – Requirements and Preparation

Over a series of posts we offer guidelines on how to produce a specification for an IT cabling system that meets your organisation’s needs and gives you value for money.

Today we provide a checklist of the elements you should include and the information you should gather before starting work on the specification.

Requirements

Assuming you need a conventional structured cabling system using RJ45 connectors, the completed specification should include details on all or some of the following:

  • The Class or Category of cabling system e.g. Class D/Cat 5e, Class E/Cat 6 etc.
  • The number and locations of outlets
  • The location and type of telecommunications rooms and spaces
  • Backbone cabling between telecommunications rooms and spaces
  • Cabling pathways and containment
  • Labelling systems and methods
  • Patching facilities and patch cords
  • Testing
  • Administration system
  • Minimum warranty period.

Preparation

Before starting work on the specification, gather and document all the following information if relevant to your installation:

  • A plan (preferably) or dimensions of the areas to be cabled
  • The number of staff requiring IT and/or voice services
  • The services required per workstation, e.g. voice, data
  • Business expansion plans
  • Applications to be supported
  • The highest network speed anticipated during the expected life of the cabling system
  • Ethernet switches and other IT infrastructure hardware to be supported
  • Printers and other peripherals to be supported
  • Voice backbone / distribution requirements
  • The maximum backbone bandwidth expected during the life of the cabling system
  • Building management systems integration
  • Telephone system details
  • Location of Telecommunications Rooms (for edge networking hardware)
  • Location of Equipment Rooms (for core networking hardware)
  • Location of Entrance Facilities for incoming telecommunications lines
  • Locations for cabinets or racks, or space in existing cabinets and racks
  • Cable routes between floors, across floors and between buildings
  • Existing earthing facilities
  • The fire rating requirement of the cable
  • Any known or potential hazards e.g. asbestos, exposed high voltages, etc.

Depending on your knowledge and the complexity of your requirement, expert assistance may be needed to complete the specification.
Find out more about Black Box’s design and installation services here, or register for a free consultation.

Watch out for future posts on how to specify an IT cabling system, including:-

Selecting an ICT Cabling System [Part 2]
Cable Pathways, Installation Techniques and Documentation [Part 3]
Testing of Copper and Fibre Links [Part 4]

Ensure IEC 60945 Compliance with KVM for Maritime

The maritime industry relies on KVM technology for a range of applications—from the engine room to the wheelhouse. Given the unique challenges of operating in a marine environment, ensuring the security, quality and reliability of mission-critical navigation and communication systems is essential. The international standard IEC 60945 certifies that equipment has passed stringent tests on security, the operating environment and electromagnetic compatibility. Ultimately, IEC 60945 determines what equipment can be installed on a ship or bridge area. Choosing products that are pre-certified can help you stay compliant.

KVM for maritime applications
Vessels that use KVM technology include personal watercrafts, military vessels, dredgers, luxury cruise liners and sea freight containers. Regardless of the type of craft, KVM matrix switches can operate hundreds of computers over one or more consoles. KVM Multiview enables simultaneous monitoring and management of multiple computers.

KVM technology can optimize IT installations, monitoring and control—both on shore and off. Applications include control rooms as well as accessing radar and GPS systems on multiple bridge control stations. KVM extension solutions also link technical equipment rooms to bridges, and they can manage control processes.

IEC standard
Certain high-performance KVM products are pre-certified and allow maritime engineers to remain compliant with the IEC standard. These six are available from Black Box:

  • ACXMODH6BPAC-R2, ACXMODH2R-P-R2
    -Both support a variety of power supply options with a chassis that can hold up to six DKM modular cards.
  • ACX1MT-DHID-C and ACX1MT-DHID-2C DVI-D, USB HID, CATx Transmitter and Receiver
    -Both can be installed in the DKM modular housing chassis.
  • ACXC48: 48-Port Compact DKM Switch
    -This switch enables matrix switching and management for DKM extenders.
  • KVP4004: Multiviewer KVM Switch
    -This switch provides access to up to four CPUs that can be monitored simultaneously in real time.

The IEC 60945 certification is issued only after rigorous testing. For example, among other qualifications, KVM technology must be proven to withstand the vibration, humidity and temperature extremes common in marine environments.

To achieve certification, Black Box helped customers perform their own critical equipment tests in the field to ensure these products meet the demands of their profession. The IEC 60945 accreditation means these tools can be deployed anywhere on a vessel, from the engine room to the technology room and the wheelhouse.

Black Box plans to release additional products that meet IEC 60945 standards in the future. Learn more about our maritime industry expertise and IEC 60945 accreditation, or visit our digital KVM Switches for product information.

Simplify Your Data Centre Build-outs and Upgrades

Enterprises today face new challenges for managing and storing vast amounts of data. The growth in ‘Big Data’, the Internet of Things, a remote workforce and the massive uptake in personal devices have all had an impact on how and where data is stored, and have attributed to the proliferation of data centres.

Building an end-to-end data centre solution requires evaluation, planning, design and deployment skills, whether it is 6 cabinets in a room, or 6000 cabinets spread over a campus site.

Your service supplier should have the relevant processes in place, and the qualified staff to make the transition as simple as possible, including:

APPROACH

  • Standardisation of processes
  • Uniformity with build layouts and designs
  • Certified Data Centre Design Professionals (CDCDP)
  • Registered Communications Distribution Designers (RCDD)
  • PRINCE2 Project Managers and fully trained Data Engineers
  • Project engineering – AutoCAD® and Visio® with isometric renderings
  • Materials control through kitting, optimum stocking, and delivery planning
  • Seamless worldwide project coordination, if required.

SERVICES

  • End-state design and build
  • Containment systems
  • Rack and stack
  • Structured cabling – pre-terminated copper and fibre
  • Wireless
  • Environmental monitoring
  • KVM solutions
  • Security
  • Project management
  • Relocations
  • Multi-site rollouts
  • Permanent on-site Engineers and Project Managers

Black Box has more than 40 years’ experience implementing data centres throughout the world.  We have a large staff of BICSI Registered Communications Distribution Designers so clients can rest assured that the design will be future-proofed for their needs today, tomorrow and in years to come.

Our global footprint, extensive technical and project management resources, diverse experience and established industry relationships make Black Box a trusted partner for any data centre project.

Find out more about our services here or contact us today for a free consultation.

Why Organisations Are Turning To IT Service Providers

Enterprise IT requires time, attention and resources.  Increasingly organisations are turning to external IT Service providers to assist in the daily running of their networks.  Some of the main reasons include:

  1. Increased demand on IT

    Continuous advances in IT are rapidly changing the way companies do business.  Changes in user requirements, challenges with managing both legacy and new technology, and shifts in managing IT expenses are shaping corporate IT landscapes.

  2. Chief Information Officers are concerned they are missing the IT expertise

    Many IT departments find it challenging to stay current and proficient with the rapid evolution of new IT business technologies and applications.  Supporting complex, enterprise-critical technology requires a depth of expertise and knowledge not always available internally.

  3. To reduce IT costs and align with cash flow

    The strategic use of IT Services makes sense for companies driven to improve cost efficiency and maximise their IT spend.  IT Services provide companies with the flexibility to determine the best use of their IT budget.  Utilising IT Services also helps to adjust and balance CAPEX and OPEX expenditures to align with cash flow and finance objectives.

How Black Box Can Help

Black Box offers an intelligent, customised portfolio of IT Service Solutions that meet a variety of needs.  We partner with our customers to identify, design, and execute time-saving and cost-effective strategies that are in line with their current and evolving enterprise objectives.

Comprehensive IT Services Portfolio

The Black Box team blends seamlessly into your workflow—assuming responsibilities and offering unobtrusive, yet focused and high-quality, support.
For more information download our IT Service Solutions brochure here or request a free consultation.

“The Black Box team is an integral part of the day-to-day-operations … they understand what we need to run smoothly, and our two teams work seamlessly as one.”

Top 5 Advantages of Pre-Terminated Fibre

If you’re in need of a rapid deployment or are concerned about the quality of your field terminations, pre-terminated fibre may be something to consider. Here are the top five advantages of using pre-terminated fibre:

  1. Lower Total Cost – Our studies have shown that a pre-terminated fibre assembly can reduce overall installation costs by nearly 50% (or more) for (1) 12-strand pre-terminated fibre assembly. By eliminating rework, realising termination efficiencies, eliminating transmission testing, and all but eliminating the need for termination equipment and consumables, pre-terminated fibre can drastically reduce the overall cost of installation.
  1. Quick-Turn Manufacturing – Quick turn manufacturing can get you a pre-terminated fibre assembly within two to four days. Pre-terminated fibre is great to help meet short project deadlines and increase the overall speed of deployment. Eliminate 3rd party suppliers and go to THE SOURCE. You no longer have to wait one, two, or even three weeks to get your custom fibre assemblies.
  1. Faster Deployments – Designed for rapid deployment, pre-terminated fibre cabling eliminates the need for field terminations. This reduces the labour required which in turn enables you to complete the job sooner. You’ll need to do some up front planning, but once you receive your cable, you’re ready to go.
  1. Proven Performance – Mission critical fibre optic networks require the highest level of care when it comes to cable assembly. Field terminations often compromise the overall quality of the cable because of poor air quality, inefficient end face polishing, and poor cleaning and testing protocol. Pre-terminated fibre assemblies should be manufactured in a clean room and go through a series of inspections, including multiple end-face inspections and certification to specific insertion loss/return loss thresholds.
  1. Online Configuration – Ordering a custom pre-terminated fibre cable can be surprisingly easy. Some manufacturers of pre-terminated fibre cable, including Black Box, offer online configurators and SKU building tools. While you’ll need to plan ahead in terms of lengths, connectors, and other options, you can actually plug in what you want and get a SKU in a matter of seconds. One of the advantages of Black Box’s online configurator compared to other configurators is that you actually get a price and can order right then and there instead of calling in and requesting a quote. If you need help configuring a pre-terminated cable, please take advantage of Black Box’s free tech support.

If you’re planning a data centre upgrade, consider trying pre-terminated fibre from Black Box. With our online configurator, you’ll be able to get a quote and place an order in less than a minute.
Need more information?  Download this free white paper to learn about the benefits of pre-terminated fibre versus field-terminated fibre.

6 Reasons Fibre Networks Are Best for High-Security Applications

High-security networks, like those used in government, healthcare, retail, and financial applications, require a higher level of network security than commercial applications. While fibre optic networks are well known for their speed, they also present significant security benefits compared to CATx networks. The following security benefits are important to evaluate when considering fibre for high-security networks:

No Radiated Emissions

CATx cable, the network standard, carries a risk of radiated emissions while fibre optic cables do not emit or absorb electromagnetic energy.  To transmit data, CATx cable uses electrical signals which conduct an electromagnetic field. Although CATx cables might be wrapped in shielding to help prevent leakage, the risk of possible exposure of the data poses a risk to security. The effectiveness of the CATx cable shielding depends on the material, quality of construction, and necessary flexibility. Conversely, fibre does not radiate electromagnetic signals and is extremely difficult to tap.

Travels Long Distances

By using light to transmit data at high speeds and great distances, fibre optic cable has very little loss. Unlike the native 328 foot (100 meter) limit of copper, the distances possible with fibre depend on the style of cable, wavelength, and network. As noted in 8 Advantages of Choosing Fibre over Copper Cable, fibre can travel from 550 metres to 40 kilometres depending on speed and cabling. Longer distance requires fewer signal repeaters and signal boosters and therefore fewer breaks in the system that may be exploited to compromise security. The less equipment there is, the easier it will be to centralising the system, improving overall security.

Harder to Tap

Because fibre is extremely difficult to tap, it offers data security unmatched by copper. Any attempt to break the physical security of a fibre network will be immediately apparent because the leak will cause the entire system to fail. Instead of having wiring closets and equipment throughout the building, fibre networks typically feature a secure central location to house all of the network equipment.

Greater Bandwidth

While single-mode fibre offers the greatest bandwidth, the exact speed of transmission depends on the specific types of cable. Fibre carries more information with greater fidelity than copper at speeds of 10 Gbps or better.

Reliability and Immunity

The core of fibre is made of glass, which is an insulator, so no electric current can flow through, providing extremely reliable data transmission. Because it is completely immune to environmental factors that affect copper such as electrometric interference and radio-frequency interference (EMI/RFI), crosstalk, and impedance problems, fibre cable can be run next to industrial equipment without concern. Fibre is also less susceptible to temperature fluctuations than copper and can be submerged in water.

Migration

The proliferation and declining cost of media converters has made migrating from copper to fibre much easier. Media converters provide seamless links that extend the life of existing hardware. Fibre upgrades may include 12- and 24- strand MPO cassettes, cables, and hardware possibly in preparation for future 40- and 100-GbE networks.

Meeting Future Networks Needs with Fibre

Fibre optics are the right choice for most modern networks. Although other technologies may be sufficient, the capabilities of fibre are vast. As technology continues to emerge, fibre optics are making great strides, extending its superior capabilities even more.

Learn how easy it is to bring fibre from the data centre to the desktop with our Media Converters Guide or contact us to discuss an upcoming project.

4 Features to Look for When Buying a Presentation Switcher

Have you ever been in a meeting where presenters changed or the input source needed to change? Typically, this involves switching cables and changing the source on a display, which wastes time and creates distractions. The advent of the presentation switcher has made awkward and time-consuming fumbling around a thing of the past. But not all presentation switchers are created equally. Here are the key features to look for when selecting a presentation switcher for your conference room:

1. Easy Connectivity Regardless of Source

It’s very common to have a variety of analog and digital sources that need to connect to a display during a meeting. A presentation switcher that can accommodate a host of inputs, including DisplayPort, is important to maximize flexibility.

2. Seamless Switching

When more than one source is required, it can be inefficient and time consuming to switch in between sources. Look for the ability to switch quickly between sources, like projectors and laptops, without latency. Lulls in a presentation can lead to losing the audience’s interest. Look for a presentation switcher with the most seamless switching capabilities.

3. Built-in HDBaseT Extension

HDBaseT technology enables users to present from remote sources or to transmit to a remote display over existing CAT5e and CAT6 cable. Presentation switchers with built-in HDBaseT extension enable you to take advantage of existing infrastructure saving both time and money.

4. Future Proof Presentation Switching

Technology is always evolving therefore it is important to look for a presentation switcher that can accommodate change. Look for a presentation switcher that supports 4K UHD with the ability to scale signals up or down in order to match the display resolution. 4K UHD is currently the best resolution we have, so finding a switcher that supports it ensures you never encounter display issues. Backwards compatibility is also necessary, as well, as you will most like encounter a variety of newer and legacy displays.

In a technology-focused world, presentations that utilize multiple, multimedia tools are the norm. Presentation switchers have entered the arena to make multimedia presentations more impressive, interactive, and seamless. Not only do they enhance presentations, but they also enhance the collaborative nature of a multimedia presentation. Whether you are switching between sources or switching between presenters, a presentation switcher will ensure the process is effortless.

Find out more about our Presentation Switchers or get an overview of Black Box conference room solutions.

Three Reasons Why Collaborative Workspaces Are a Must

Collaborative workspace is not just a buzzword or trend; it’s a way of doing business that’s here to stay. Whether you’re in an academic setting or a multinational corporation with a worldwide workforce, collaborative interaction is part of life. Here are just a few ways to make collaborative workspaces at your business or school more effective.

1. Understand collaborative working and why it’s important

To start, set up workspaces in a way that will facilitate, or even encourage collaborative working. Individual cubicles or lecture-style layouts have their place, but not when creating a space for people to work together. While this mostly deals with the orientation of tables and chairs, consider placement of audio and video equipment as well. Use of wireless presentation systems or video conferencing interfaces must be accounted for in such a way that everyone can participate comfortably, including having their ideas viewed and heard. Also consider the needs of both local and remote participants. The days of everyone being in one room at the same time are fading fast.

2. Choose efficient collaboration systems

Choose collaboration systems that are simple to use. We’ve all been there: wasting valuable time trying to figure out how to use a program or find the right cable. There are resources that are well-suited for a facilitated environment, but for collaborative workspaces, choose easy-to-use tools. Few things will quell one’s creative ambition to share like being intimidated by the wireless presentation or collaboration tools. When dealing with a physical work space, be certain that access to A/V equipment connections and power outlets does not create a hindrance.

3. Embrace secure and open collaboration

In today’s climate with globally dispersed workforces and supplier/partner relationships, it’s important to have a communication framework that can securely enable open collaboration anywhere, at any time, on any device. Openness and security are two sides of the same coin — it cannot be one over the other, it must be both. If your solution is not open and supportive of multiple device types such as PC’s, Mac’s, Android/iOS/Windows tablets, and smartphones, you risk losing valuable input by alienating participants. But if you don’t keep it secure, you risk losing valuable information and people possibly becoming reticent to openly share their ideas.

Whether a board room, a classroom, or a project meeting in multiple rooms, collaboration enables participation from more people in every setting. From a single location or multiple sites across a campus or across the globe, the generation and sharing of information and great ideas is vital to driving business forward. A simple to use, yet full-featured, robust tool set, combined with an overall unified collaboration and communication platform, taking advantage of secure networking solutions is the way to go.

Create a technologically modern and integrated collaborative workspace, where everyone can share their ideas. The Small Conference/Training Room Kit (CONF-2C-KIT-EU) contains everything you need including a Coalesce™ wireless collaboration system, presentation switcher, control panel, and even cables. The kit also comes fully pre-configured with standard or even individual settings. No programming knowledge is required.

Application Diagram

Need help determining what to include in your conference room or classroom to encourage collaboration? Find out more about Coalesce™ or contact us today to schedule a consultation.

7 Tips on How to Improve Collaboration in the Workplace

The benefits of collaboration in the workplace are countless, from saving time, to more efficient productivity outcomes. Many organisations struggle trying to find the right enterprise collaboration system that removes collaboration barriers and improves meeting effectiveness.  Here are seven tips that may help your organisation.

1.  Intuitive and easy-to-use team collaboration tools increase the adoption rate

Select a team collaboration tool that is easy to use. Systems that are hard to set up and difficult to use will have a harder adoption rate. Too often, the first 5 or 10 minutes of a meeting are spent setting things up. Therefore, in order to avoid spending too much time, it’s advisable to look for a product with an intuitive user interface (UI) that requires little or no training to use and enables wireless screen mirroring within seconds.

2.  Make sure your enterprise collaboration system is BYOD ready

Be sure your enterprise collaboration system can support any type of device. Within a BYOD environment, all types of devices used in a corporate conference room will allow a vast array of apps, docs, images, and videos to be shared from any laptop, tablet, iOS, or Android device. This is particularly important as millennials enter the workforce.

3.  Offer wired and wireless connectivity

Offer both wired and wireless connectivity. Some devices require a wired connection while others can connect wirelessly. A solution that allows for both wired and wireless connectivity at the same time will eliminate any connection guesswork.

4.  Enable collaboration with people outside of your organization to get a wider range of opinions

In many instances, people from outside of your business will want to share and collaborate with your team. To ensure the highest levels of security, look for a collaboration tool that has dual-network support. This means that internal team members are connected via your corporate network and visitors are connected via a guest network.

5. Share an unlimited number and type of content items

There may be times when the group needs to share multiple items at the same time for comparison. Being able to share an unlimited number and type of items is a great feature to look for when selecting a team collaboration tool.

6. Allow for an unlimited number of participants

Don’t compromise collaboration productivity by restraining the number of participants in a meeting. If your meetings typically have more than two to four people, you’ll need to look for a system that allows an unlimited number of users.

7. Take ownership of meeting moderation

In some instances, a team member may need to be able to manage the meeting and control who shares what and when. There are collaboration tools with multiple-use modes that enable different types of meeting moderation including open, password, screen key, and line of site.

Black Box can help you design a collaboration system that will create a collaborative environment and enhance meeting efficiency and effectiveness. See how Coalesce™ removes all collaboration barriers. With Coalesce™, any number of users can wirelessly connect, share, and control content from any device. Encourage involvement, drive collaboration, and embrace the BYOD culture in meetings, lectures, and classrooms.

Watch the Coalesce™ demo video below:

Find out more about Coalesce™ or contact us today to find the solution that’s right for you.

Five Types of Video Walls for Control Rooms

The majority of control rooms have some sort of large display wall, whether a single or multiple screens, tiles, or projectors.  This helps to create large-scale visualisation and a common operating picture for everyone in the control room.

There are several ways to implement video walls for control rooms depending on the level of complexity and budget.  The purpose of this post is a focus on the video processing aspects of the video wall, not on the display technologies.  To help put different options in perspective, the following descriptions are provided for comparison.

Basic Video Walls

basic-video-wallMonitor Wall
The Monitor Wall is the simplest form of video wall as it is just a collection of individual monitors.  Each piece of content is limited to a single screen and cannot be scaled across multiple screens.  A monitor wall can be driven by dedicated sources, or it could be front-ended with a matrix switch (AV or KVM) to switch content on the screens.  Alternatively, an IP-based matrix can provide significant scale for switching the number of potential inputs in a distributed manner while avoiding a centralised matrix chassis.

quad-screen-wallQuad-Screen Wall
A Quad-Screen Wall is a 2×2 video wall on which a single input is scaled across all four monitors.  The wall could be front-ended with a matrix switch (AV or KVM) or even just a small presentation switcher if the number of inputs is limited.  Alternatively, an IP-based matrix can provide significant scale for switching the number of potential inputs in a distributed manner while avoiding a centralised matrix chassis.

Intermediate Video Walls

intermediate-video-wallMulti-Window Wall
A Multi-Window Video Wall can support content that scales across multiple screens, can be larger than a 2×2, but the content windows are limited to screen sizes.   For example, with a 4×4 wall, up to four 2×2 windows could be displayed, or a 3×3 window with 7 additional single screen windows, or the entire 4×4 could be a single window.  Or, there could be two 2×2 windows with eight additional single screen windows.  An IP-based matrix solution is a very easy and low cost way to implement this type of video wall.

Multi-View Video Wall
A Multi-View Video Wall is driven by a multi-viewer, which is a video processor that provides a limited number of pre-designed layouts for a single output.  Options typically range from 4-8 windows.  A multi-viewer can be used when the number of windows and scalability of a larger video wall processor is not required.  A multi-viewer can also be coupled with a projector or quad-screen wall processor to increase the viewing size.

Advanced Video Wall

radian-video-wallAn Advanced Video Wall is one that supports a large number of screens of different form factors (e.g. 2×2, 3×2, 6×3, etc.) and offers a canvas-type display interface on which numerous content windows can be dynamically moved or resized.  Advanced video wall processors support dozens of screens and numerous types of video inputs. The processor can also support native decoding of IP streams for displaying large numbers of streams from IP-based security cameras, and can also support encoding of video sources for sharing to additional sites or users.  Advance wall processors can typically drive more than one video wall from the same system.

Below is a summary of several features and capabilities of the different type of video wall processors used in control rooms.

Control Room Video Wall Types

Monitor Wall Quad-Screen Wall Multi-Window Video Wall Multi-View Video Wall Advanced Video Wall
Suggested video wall processor MediaCento IPX AVS Series MediaCento IPX VideoPlex4 MediaCento IPX 4Site Radian
Size Basic Size Intermediate Size Advanced Size
Content
Windows
1 per screen One for the entire wall Multiple sizes, typically limited to 4×4 Typically 4-8 Only limited by practical viewing size
Content
Size
Limited to single screens One image across all screens Limited to screen boundaries All windows on a single video output, but can feed into other wall processors. Windows can be freely moved and resized anywhere on the screen
Window
Resizing
No No Yes, limited to screen boundaries (e.g. increase a 2×2 to 3×3) Yes, typically based on pre-set window layouts but PiP and Windowed views can be scaled. Yes. Any window can be any size.
Video Input Types Limited. Monitor inputs type limit options unless driven by a flexible matrix switch. Limited. Typically a single video type such as HDMI, DVI, or DispalyPort Limited, but modular processors typically support multiple input types. Limited, but modular multi-viewers typically support multiple input types. Typically support all standard video types including VGA, Component, Composite, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, SDI, and IP.

 

The digital signage industry is growing big with video wall installations being used in retail stores, hospitality environments, sports venues, emergency operation centres, power plants, traffic management centres and more. We’re living in an age where monitoring business-critical or even life-critical operations 24/7 is a must. Operators need to rely on dependable visualisation, often in a networked setup, for their decision making. Whilst choosing the right video wall processor depends on distinct factors that rely on different factors like the level of complexity and budget, it is unquestionable that large-scale visualisation is necessary for critical monitoring environments, making it easier for information sharing, faster communication, and optimal performance of control rooms. Black Box provides expert engineering support to design a solution that meets your technical and budgetary requirements. Contact our technical team today for a free, customised system design.

Visit our Video Walls Solutions page to get to know more: www.black-box.eu/videowallproducts

Cable tidy and re-patching solutions and services from Black Box Network Services

Disorganised cabinets and racks cost time and money.

Constant staff and equipment moves and changes over time can result in your communications cabinets becoming congested, unreliable and difficult to manage.

data-services-email-2016-07-a-banner-image

Problems escalate if it is necessary to trace faulty or disconnected patch cables resulting in network downtime and lost productivity.

Black Box Network Services offers a complete data cabinet tidy and re-patching service to maximise the performance of your network.  We can untangle years of messy network cabling, radically improve the cable management and help you take back control of your comms cabinets.

How Black Box can help you achieve a cleaner, more manageable solution:

  • Audit existing cabinets, creating a patching schedule of the interconnecting leads and equipment.
  • Record, label and remove all equipment, patch panels and cables.
  • Provide and install new racks and enclosures or utilise existing cabinets.
  • Optimise the location of switches and panels within the cabinet or rack, leaving room for future expansion and reducing patch cable lengths.
  • Install vertical and horizontal cable management throughout the cabinet to allow patch leads to be added or removed easily without impacting other cables. Well-spaced cable management is key to a maintaining a bulk cabling system.
  • It is important to leave plenty of space for expansion to the network. We can provide different sizes of blanking panels which also help to prevent the ingress of dust.
  • Install vertical or horizontal power strips to suit the size of cabinet and active equipment within.
  • Reinstate patching in line with the original schedule using short – 0.3, 0.6, 0.9m, or custom length patch leads.
  • Provide colour-coded patch leads to indicate function or area.
  • Work can be undertaken out of office hours to avoid disrupting your business.

BENEFITS

Future additions and changes on the network are easier to manage and stress-free.

When it is time to upgrade active equipment in the cabinets, it can be swapped over with little effort.

Remember: only let authorised personnel have access to your IT cabinets.

Talk to Black Box about our on-site network services today, or register for a free consultation on your cabinet tidy requirements.

The benefits of choosing Managed Ethernet Switches

What are Industrial Switches?

Industrial Networking Switches are computer networking devices aimed at establishing inter-connectivity between industrial environments and enterprise business applications, joining multiple computers together within one local area network (LAN). These types of switches are built for mission‑critical applications, designed to withstand extreme temperatures and harsh conditions in a multitude of environments from factory floors to traffic controls.

Importantly, some network switches allow configuration of its settings to VLAN mode in order to group devices per working departments (for example marketing/finance), thus isolating traffic between these groups so that critical information can flow without delay to the rightfully allocated place.

Managed Industrial Switches

Managed Switches are oriented towards redundancy, offering real-time targeted communications through built-in protocols that enhance determinism and provide stable and consistent flow of data. These switches provide QoS (Quality of Service) which can prioritise bandwidth for data subsets, allowing more bandwidth to be allocated through the network to ensure IP data comes in smoothly, obtaining the sensor data without an interruption using minimal bandwidth. Managed switches also provide additional protocols like RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol) allowing alternate cabling paths to prevent loop situations, which usually are the reason for network malfunction.

Industrial Control Room

Benefits of Managed Switches

These switches excel for a vast array of features such as PoE capabilities, extended temperature range, DC power,  and additional flexible SFP-slots with Din rail mounting options. In short, they add value in:

  • Network redundancy (network back-up plan): These switches offer the ability to run redundant power supplies, so that when a surge takes out one of the power supplies, the switch keeps on running as if nothing happened on the second power supply, suppressing any down time. By offering resilient ring protocols, it allows for alternate data paths in the event a link or node goes down.
  • Remote management: Mission critical networks demand remote configuration, monitoring/traps, reboot, re-imaging of OS. If there is a network issue, operators want to remotely diagnose and fix to maximise uptime. The SNMP protocol allows you to visualise and maintain an entire network remotely, providing real-time data at every node. With SNMP, it’s possible to collect and organise and also modify information from each switch in order to change the device’s behaviour without having to go through a web console and also do mass upgrades to maintain the latest firmware.
  • Security and Resilience: In terms of limiting access to the network to trusted devices and prevents users from setting up unauthorised sub-networks. The switches enable complete control of data, bandwidth and traffic control over the Ethernet network, allowing you to set IP/port restrictions on actual physical ports. This means you can setup additional firewall rules directly into the switch. In all, managed switches support protocols which allow operators to restrict/control port access, like the 802.1x port based network access control.  In addition, managed switches support protocols to limit management plane access via user authentication such as RADIUS, LDAP and more.
  • RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol): Managed switches incorporate Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol  which provides path redundancy in the network and prevents loops, allowing one active path at a time between two network devices so that there is lesser downtime.
  • SFP (Small Form-factor Pluggable): The benefit of having multi-rate SFP slots is the network flexible expansion possibility, which allows the user to be able to use 100Mbps and 1Gbps SFP Modules for either multi or single-mode fibre optic (or copper) and mix and match as needed. If requirements change, the SFP module can be replaced and easily protect your switch investment.
  • Support multiple VLAN as per requirement: Managed switches allow for the creation of multiple VLANs where an 8-port switch functionally can turn into two 4-port switches (where ports 1-4 are VLAN 1 and ports 4-8 are VLAN 2). It’s possible to allow VLANs to talk to the router/NAT, but deny the ability to talk to each other. You could even lock down the wireless VLAN to only allow port 80/443 or similar so they can browse the web but nothing else.
  • Prioritise bandwidth for data subsets: The switches are able to prioritise one type of traffic over another allowing more bandwidth to be allocated through the network (voice and video streaming, for example).
  • Resilient ring protocols: Allows alternate data paths in the event a link or node goes down.

In applications such as an IP security camera backhaul, it is not practical/economical to deploy hub and spoke topology since each node has a direct connection to the core/aggregation node. With a ring network topology it’s possible to allow a loop to be constructed and avoid additional fibre trenching costs.

Ring Topology

When and Where to use Industrial Managed Switches?

Managed switches are suitable for networks that have applications with fast response times requirements and are aimed at companies that need to manage and troubleshoot their network remotely and securely, allowing engineers to reach optimal reliable network performance and maintenance.

These switches are robust and appropriate for Industrial Network settings, made to stand up to harsh applications like extreme temperatures (-40 up to +75°), vibrations and shocks; and contributing to a cost-effective, reliable, and secure network. Managed switches should be used on any network backbone switch so that segments of network traffic can be monitored and controlled such as:

  • Security/surveillance
  • Defense/government applications
  • HVAC
  • Water/waste water
  • Utilities
  • Oil/gas

Black Box Industrial Network INDRy Series

The Black Box INDRy (Industrial DIN Rail Switches) series are designed for the far edges of an industrial network, delivering an easy and cost-effective way of integrating legacy networks, eliminating the need for additional configurations and modifications, and reducing deployment time. These switches allow redundancy in mission critical systems by rerouting the traffic over a backup link within milliseconds overcoming situations like the cut-off of communication of the traffic control system of some infrastructures.

Additionally they are characterised by a DIN rail feature which is an effective mounting option that offers a metal rail of a standard type widely used for mounting circuit breakers and industrial control equipment within equipment racks.

Industrial Ethernet Switches

Our customers are very satisfied with the INDRy solutions. Uses include strengthening substations’ network connections, effectively increasing electric energy distribution, and monitoring and controlling security camera functions in the field.

These switches are extremely easy to install, however should you need help, our specialised technical support staff can assist you by offering you the best advice in terms of individually optimised applications, completely free of charge. Learn more about our Tech Support Centre by visiting our Black Box Tech Support Centre page.

To find out more about our industrial switch solutions, please visit our INDRy Industrial Switches online store page.

Save space, improve airflow, and optimise cable handling with Slim-Net™ 28-AWG Cable

Black Box recently introduced Slim-Net, the company’s 28-AWG CAT6 and CAT6A UTP cables to answer a need for better patching in crowded cabinets and racks. Over the past few years, 28-AWG cable has been gaining fans and is becoming a popular choice, especially for high-density data centres and telecom rooms.

In this article, we’ll examine the advantages of using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable as well as some usage considerations.

What is 28-AWG cable?

It’s a patch cable made with thinner, 28-AWG stranded copper conductors as opposed to traditional patch cables made with thicker 23-, 24- or 26-AWG conductors. Black Box Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is constructed with top-quality, stranded copper conductors. The plug is custom designed to ensure a snug fit on the RJ-45 gold-blade contacts and to guarantee top performance.

Here are some of the advantages of using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable.

Blog_28AWG_Image1Advantage 1: Space savings

With a diameter of only 4.1 mm, Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is almost half the size of a typical 24-AWG cable at 5.9 mm. This gives you a lot of extra space in cable managers and in pathways. The difference can be dramatic, as shown in this photo of a bundle of 28-AWG cable compared to a bundle of 24-AWG cable. When you calculate the physical cable area in bundles and in patching connections, you’ll actually save more than 50% space when compared to traditional cables. This can make a significant difference in congested telecom rooms and data centres.

Advantage 2: Improved airflow

Cooling is a hot issue in today’s data centres, especially in crowded racks and cabinets. Slim-Net 28-AWG cables actually help cooling because they are so much thinner than traditional 24-AWG cables. The result is that they take up less space in front of patch panels and hot network equipment, such as switches. The extra space between cables results in improved airflow and cooling for the equipment.

Advantage 3: Easier handling

There’s more space between patched Slim-Net 28-AWG cables, so the cable is much easier to handle. Compared to 24-AWG cables, which often are a dense mass in front of equipment, you’ll find there’s more space for your fingers to get a hold on plugs when doing installs and moves, additions, and changes. Also, you’ll find it’s much easier to identify port assignments on equipment because of the extra space.

Advantage 4: Fewer cable managers

Slim-Net 28-AWG cables are much less bulky and offer better flexibility than 24-AWG cables. With a bend radius that’s 70% tighter than 24-AWG cable, you can easily route cables to other equipment or to the side without cable managers or with fewer horizontal cable managers. Because of that, you can reduce the number of horizontal cable managers you need, or possibly eliminate them entirely. When routing Slim-Net 28-AWG cables in vertical managers, you’ll also gain up to 50% more space.

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Advantage 5: Conserve rack space

By eliminating horizontal cable managers, you’ll actually conserve valuable rack space. Consider how many rack units you can free up in a typical rack enabling you to add more equipment or to reserve space for future expansion. Depending on your application, you may even free up enough space to consolidate equipment from two racks into one rack.

Advantage 6: Big performance

Black Box Slim-Net 28-AWG cables meet or exceed all TIA 568-C.2 performance requirements and pass all tests. The standard currently specifies 22- to 26-AWG cable, so 28-AWG cable is not included. When the standard is revised, it will most likely include 28-AWG cable.

Another benefit of using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is that the thinner conductors actually increase NEXT and PS-NEXT because there is less copper in the jacket. Higher NEXT is a good thing in terms of cable performance. Here’s the formula for cable performance: Bandwidth = NEXT – Insertion Loss

Advantage 7: PoE

One of the most common questions about Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is if it can support Power over Ethernet (PoE).

The answer is a resounding “Yes.” Black Box cable can support all PoE levels: IEEE 802.3 af PoE, 802.3 at PoE+, and the upcoming 802.3 bt (PoE++). This makes Slim-Net cable a more economical choice for powering remote security cameras, manufacturing sensors, wireless access points, and more. The only consideration you should keep in mind is that because the cable is smaller, it should be grouped in smaller bundles to counteract any extra heat build-up and to comply with the 15°C temperature rise outlined in TSB 184.

Advantage 8: Price

Slim-Net 28-AWG cable has less copper in its conductors, so it costs less than traditional 24-/26-AWG cable. This can add up to significant savings when setting up and patching high-density telecom rooms and data centres with hundreds of cables.

Mix and match in the channel

When using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable, you’ll need to reduce the size of your channel, but not by much. For example, if you have 90 metres of 23-AWG horizontal cabling, you can run three-metre Slim-Net patch cords on each end instead of the traditional five metres. That gives you a total channel of 96 metres.

There’s no problem using Black Box’s Slim-Net cable on one end of your channel and our premium 24-AWG GigaTrue® CAT6 or GigaBase® CAT5e cable on the other end. In fact, this will give you a few extra metres in your channel.

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Summary

Black Box Slim-Net 28-AWG cables are a great alternative to traditional 24-AWG cable, especially in high-density telecom rooms and data centres where rack space is at a premium. The thinner, 4.1 mm diameter is almost half the size of a 24-AWG cable so it’s ideal for saving space, reducing clutter, and improving airflow. It’s easier to handle, so the need for cable managers can be reduced or eliminated. It also costs less than traditional cable.

With almost 50% more space between cables, you’ll like working with Slim-Net cable. It’s much easier to get your fingers in between the cables for patching; easier to identify port designations; and easier to route cables.

Guaranteed for life

Black Box offers CAT6 and CAT6A Slim-Net cable in seven lengths and seven colours. The company unconditionally guarantees the cables for life and will replace them if they fail. The entire line can be seen here.