‘How to’ Guide for Specifying an IT Cabling System [Part 4] – ‘Testing of Copper and Fibre Links’

The final instalment in our four part series where we offer guidelines on how to produce a specification for an IT cabling system.  In Part 4 we review the different methods of testing data cabling (Certification, Qualification and Verification), and evaluate the importance of a warranty.

TESTING OF BALANCED COPPER LINKS

A structured cabling specification should state how the cabling system is to be tested and to what standard.  There are three forms of testing:

  • Certification – Tests all parameters required by ratified standards and provides a certificate for each channel or permanent link
  • Qualification – Only tests the cabling to work for particular applications or network standards
  • Verification – Tests only the most essential parameters.

Black Box Network Services recommends certification testing for every channel or permanent link. This should prove cost effective in the long term. It is a condition of most manufacturers’ warranties that the cabling system is 100% certified. The permanent link is the link from the distribution panels and the outlets whilst the channel also includes the patch core and equipment cables.

For every installation, where either certification or qualification testing is undertaken, complete individual test reports (or certificates where appropriate) configured in accordance with the agreed standard, should be included with the installation documentation. The format and material on which these reports are to be presented should form part of the contract.

CERTIFICATION TESTING OF BALANCED CABLING

Certification is carried out with a standards-compliant tester with the required accuracy for the Class or Category of cabling installed. You should state that the cabling system be certified to the BS EN 50173 series of standards, or your own country’s standards. By definition, certification testing includes qualification testing.

QUALIFICATION TESTING OF BALANCED CABLING

Where a manufacturer warranty is not offered, qualification is a less stringent alternative to certification.

  • Uses less accurate test equipment to compare installed cabling performance with the requirements of specific applications
  • Can only provide results for existing application standards
  • Cannot provide any form of ‘future proofing’ as it deals only with existing applications
  • Is limited to the ‘Channel’ test model, i.e. includes the equipment, patch and work area type cords.

VERIFICATION TESTING OF BALANCED CABLING

This will eliminate common installation errors but will not guarantee that the cabling system will support the network or bandwidth requirements. It provides:

  • Minimum test and inspection for copper cabling
  • A visual inspection of the terminations
  • Wire-mapping test to confirm there are no open circuits, short circuits or crossed wires, including the cable screen if present. It will also confirm that telecommunication outlets and patch panels are identified and labelled correctly.

Plus, as an optional requirement, it can provide:

  • Cable length
  • Test to ensure there are no split pairs.

TESTING OF OPTICAL FIBRE CABLING

For optical fibre cabling, certification and qualification are essentially the same thing. There is not an acceptable less accurate alternative to the Loss/Length test set.

Certification / Qualification of Optical Fibre Cabling

Provides:

  • Polarity proofing by use of a visible light source
  • Link length
  • End-to-end power loss at the transmission wavelengths identified in the selected standard
  • Calculation of power loss budget in accordance with the selected standard, allowing for the total number of connections and splices within the link
  • Stringent adherence to the test method defined in the selected standard
  • A final check for end-face cleanliness after certification, and cleaned as required with the correct materials.

Verification of Optical Fibre Cabling

Provides:

  • A visual inspection of terminations and splices
  • Inspection for dirt and scratches using appropriate inspection microscopes, and where necessary cleaned with correct materials
  • Optical fibre loss measurements using a light source and power meter to calculate loss budgets.

Plus, as an optional requirement, it can provide:

  • OTDR measurements to determine length, and locate damage and poor connections.

MAINTENANCE AND SERVICES

 BS EN 50174-1 states that “Repair and maintenance are generally captured by the contract between the cabling owner and the cabling maintainer”. Additional consideration should be made to ensure:

  • A suitable maintainer (i.e. installations company/service provider) is identified where desired
  • Records are updated to reflect moves and changes
  • Alterations upgrades and enhancements are carried out in accordance with existing warranties, topology and standards
  • Emergency support is considered.

WARRANTY

Most cabling systems come with a warranty that covers the materials and installation for fifteen years or more (Black Box Network Services can offer a lifetime warranty). Some warrant that the cabling system will support specific applications whilst others guarantee to conform to a particular standard. These warranties are valuable and reassure you that the manufacturer has confidence in the cabling system. However, the warranties do not usually specify a response time or a fix time.

A few installers offer an enhanced warranty providing, for example, a timed response to a fault call. Cabling is often a critical part of your network so this type of warranty is beneficial for business continuity. There may be an extra charge and conditions attached to these enhanced warranties, which would be fully covered with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for a cabling infrastructure.  At Black Box we have a dedicated help desk facility, enabling us to provide tailored support contracts to suit customer requirements. We work to defined SLAs, covering response times, performance and fault resolution.

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Depending on your experience and the complexity of the installation, 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.

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‘How to’ Guide for specifying an IT Cabling System [Part 3] – ‘Cable Pathways, Installation Techniques and Documentation’

This is the third in a series of posts where we offer guidelines on how to produce a specification for an IT cabling system.

Today we look at what you should consider when installing containment and cable, and we list the components which make up a well-documented cabling system.

CABLE PATHWAYS AND CONTAINMENT

Cable pathways can be located above ceilings, under floors, in risers between floors, underground or overhead between buildings. In most instances, the cabling will require dedicated containment such as trunking, conduit, cable tray, matting, cable basket or ducts.

The following should be considered:

  • Designing pathways that keep cable lengths within limits
  • Specifying the most suitable containment for the pathway
  • Consider who has responsibility for the pathways and designing the containment system, e.g. architect, mechanical and electrical contractor or the cabling installer
  • Capacity, allowing for future growth and to keep fill ratios within the requirements of the BS and EN standards
  • Segregation from other services, particularly electricity supply cabling in accordance with your country’s standards, in the case of the UK it is BS 6701 and BS EN 50174-2 series
  • Suitability for standards conformity e.g. to allow correct bend radii for cables
  • You have permission from the landowner for the installation of ducts
  • Protection of the cable from water, heat, sunlight, physical damage and rodents.

INSTALLATION TECHNIQUES

Suitably qualified installers, complying with relevant standards should be selected to undertake the cabling work. Qualifications would include evidence of the cable manufacturer’s training or training undertaken at a specialised training establishment and supported by a recognized certification.

The installation should adhere to standards, including, where applicable:

  • BS 6701
  • BS EN 7671 (IEE) Wiring Regulations – 17th Edition
  • BS EN 50174 series of standards
  • BS EN 50310
  • BS EN 50346

A good installer will not:

  • Exceed the minimum bend radii for cables
  • Exceed the maximum pulling force for cables
  • Crush cable (e.g. by over tightening cable ties)
  • Strip too much cable sheath at termination points
  • Install cables where they could be damaged
  • Untwist too much of each cable pair
  • Use incorrect tools or fixing techniques.

A good installer will:

  • Work safely
  • Adhere to the necessary standards
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

LABELLING, RECORDS AND DOCUMENTATION

If your cabling system is well documented, any implementation, moves, additions or changes will be made simpler and problems more quickly diagnosed. You should develop a full administration scheme, complying with BS 6701 or your own country’s standards.

The level of detail will depend on the size and nature of your network and will include the following:

Labelling and records:

  • Identifiers
  • Labels
  • Records
  • Reports
  • Drawings
  • Work Orders (documenting all moves, additions and changes).

Documentation should contain some or all of the following:

  • Topology diagram (schematic layout)
  • Floor plans routes
  • Equipment room layout
  • Outlet locations
  • Patching closet location
  • Equipment termination location
  • Telecommunications or equipment room layout
  • Cabinet layout
  • Patching / cross connect records
  • Test schedules / results
  • Identification of test equipment used
  • Certificate of conformity.

Depending on your experience and the complexity of the installation, 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 the final post on how to specify an IT cabling system:-

  • Testing of Copper and Fibre Links [Part 4]

‘How to’ Guide for specifying an IT Cabling System [Part 2] – Selecting an ICT Cabling System

This is the second in a series of posts where we offer guidelines on how to produce a specification for an IT cabling system.  Today we review industry standards, the types of cable available, and the capabilities of copper and fibre.

Standards

Cabling systems are often specified using USA standards, e.g. Cat 5e or Cat 6. However, you should get assurance from your installer that your new cabling system will comply with your country’s structured cabling standards. For the purpose of this document we are using BS EN (British Standard, European Norm) standards, namely:

  • BS EN 50173 series for performance and components
  • BS EN 50174 series for design, installation, operation and maintenance
  • BS 6701 for installation, operation and maintenance
  • BS EN 50310 for grounding and bonding
  • BS EN 50346 for testing.

The standards specify a range of Classes or Categories of copper cabling systems, correctly referred to as balanced cabling systems. Amongst these are:

  • Class D – Comparable with TIA Cat 5e, supporting Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T)
  • Class E – Comparable with TIA Cat 6, supporting Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T) and 10Gigabit Ethernet (10GBASE-T) to a distance of 35m
  • Class EA – Comparable with TIA Cat 6A, supporting 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GBASE-T)
  • Class F – Comparable with TIA Cat 7, supporting 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GBASE-T)
  • Class FA – Supporting 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GBASE-T).

Choose a class that will meet your bandwidth requirements for the foreseeable future and that will fit within your budget. Bear in mind that higher class cabling is more expensive, and requires larger containment and pathways as the cables have a bigger diameter.

Choice of Cabling Medium

Bandwidth, lengths of cable runs, and environmental influences will determine your choice of cabling medium. In a typical enterprise installation, it is customary to use balanced twisted pair copper cables to service work areas although optical fibre cabling may be a better choice if security or electromagnetic interference are significant considerations.

Class D (Cat 5e), Class E (Cat 6) and Class EA (Cat 6A) cables are available as unshielded (UTP) and shielded (e.g. STP, FTP). Class F and Class FA have an overall shield only and each pair is individually foil-shielded. Unshielded cable is suitable for some installations but shielded cable may be required if high levels of electromagnetic interference are present or if a high “tempest” rating is required for security purposes. Also, in the case of Class EA, the unshielded variant has a larger diameter so requires larger containment.

The following circumstances, commonly found in backbones, may make it necessary to select optical fibre cabling:

  • If the length of a cable run is over 90m
  • If each end of the cable terminates in different electrical earth zones. This is often the case if nodes are in different buildings – a non-metallic optical fibre cable is far less likely to conduct damaging electricity in the event of a lightning strike
  • If the cable is routed externally. In this case sheaths need to be more rugged and weatherproof. This is more often available for optical fibre cables
  • If the space in the cable containment is limited; a multi-core fibre can carry many times the volume of data cable
  • If a high level of security is required; optical fibre is secure against unauthorized access.

Selecting the Right Optical Fibre Cable

The selection of OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4 or OS1/OS2 optical fibre cabling depends on the network application and the distance. OM1-OM4 cables are multimode whilst OS1 and OS2 cables are singlemode.

*Distances listed are industry minimums.

Mechanical Protection and Physical Properties

The selection of cable sheath material such as PVC, Low Smoke Zero Halogen (LSZH) or plenum rated, depends on the attitude to risk, local regulations and the requirements of other interested parties e.g. premises owners and insurance companies.

Optical fibre cables may need to be armoured and rodent-resistant to give protection in ducts or for direct burial.

Lifetime Cost Effectiveness

A cabling system represents the element of a network that has the longest life span so should be designed and installed with at the very least 10 years of useable life. To ensure consistent performance throughout the life of the system, the following should be considered:

  • Warranty and performance guarantees from the component manufacturer
  • Quality components proven to meet appropriate standards
  • Manufacturer and supplier support
  • The installers have relevant qualifications and training and their installation methods fully comply with country standards.

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:-

  • Cable Pathways, Installation Techniques and Documentation [Part 3]
  • Testing of Copper and Fibre Links [Part 4]

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