All posts by Black Box

Artificial Intelligence IS the Digital Edge

In this post, we’ll take a look at how artificial intelligence is the epitome of the digital edge and some predictions on where it’s going in 2018. In a future post, we’ll look at how artificial intelligence is being utilised in different industries.

Artificial Intelligence Today and Everyday
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now, not in some distant future. In 2018, we are going to see an explosion of AI in all industries and all verticals.

AI has changed how we work, play and live and its impact is growing—rapidly. AI improves the customer experience, increases productivity, protects the public, accelerates research, diagnoses patients, prevents machine failures, analyses data, recommends music, and the list goes on and on.

As consumers and professionals, we are the drivers of artificial intelligence. We expect personalisation and unprecedented levels of quality, agility and speed – and AI provides it.

We interact with artificial intelligence every day, although we may not realise it. Every time you talk to Siri or Alexa, you’re interacting with artificial intelligence. At the high-end, there are self-driving Uber cars. In between, there are IoT devices everywhere from factories and smart buildings to your home and car.

Every artificial intelligence touch is computing at the digital edge. It’s literally the place where people and devices meet. It is machines working and thinking for us. Analysing data. Giving us information. Making decisions for us and ultimately, making our lives easier on the spot—at the edge.

What is artificial intelligence? 

Artificial intelligence is automating processes that previously required human interaction. A high-end example is the aforementioned driverless Uber car (which our US colleagues can get in downtown Pittsburgh, PA). A simpler example is a chess-playing computer.

AI is often thought of as machine learning when it is actually a subset of it. AI is the ability of a machine or computer to think and learn from experience. Instead of robotic automation, AI learns from deep data and adapts through progressive, deep learning algorithms to let the data do the programming. For example, Alexa and Siri are all based on deep learning.

AI takes data analysis from hindsight to foresight with a greater ability to predict events, such as monitoring HVAC systems and sending out maintenance crews to prevent system failures. Another example might be a financial system that prevents fraud instead of just detecting it. But AI is very task specific. The system designed to detect financial fraud can’t monitor HVAC systems.

The future of artificial intelligence

AI is big and getting bigger. The artificial intelligence market is predicted to be a US$100 billion industry by 2025.

In a recent survey, 75% of executives say AI will be actively implemented in the next two years. It’s estimated that in 2018 alone, 1.3 million industrial robots will enter service and that data created by IoT devices will be 277 times higher than the amount of data being transmitted to data centres from end-user devices.

Consider this. Tech giants like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Baidu have already spent over US$8 billion on dedicated AI investments. Recently, Sundar Pichair, Google CEO said “Particularly over the last three years, we have felt that with machine learning and artificial intelligence, we can do these things better than ever before. They are progressing at an incredible rate.”

Artificial intelligence is the intelligent digital edge. Intelligent devices do more than simply collect and mindlessly deliver data. They are able to process data on the spot instead of sending it to the cloud for analysis. Whether in industry, public spaces or even in your home or car, IoT devices are beginning to effectively analyse data in real-time—and at the edge. AI is at the heart of the digital transformation.

Whether it’s as simple as the wireless in your home to power Alexa and machine learning sensors on the factory floor to complex medical diagnosis and even self-driving cars, AI is driving new business outcomes and has forever changed our expectations of what’s possible. The intelligent digital edge is the foundational technology that enables AI and all the promises it holds in every facet of life. For instance, Uber has hired hundreds of self-driving car experts from Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute. Currently, AI experts are the most on-demand hires on Wall Street. In the not so distant past, these types of jobs didn’t exist.

The question now is how can businesses use AI to give them a competitive edge. AI is no longer an option. It’s critical for organisations to realise AI’s full potential and to take advantage of the specific strengths of humans and machines. Executives need to consider where AI can create the most long-lasting and profound advantage. To do that, they need the right partner to help them embrace digital transformation and leverage the right technologies at the intelligent digital edge.

To learn more about how we can help you with your transformation at the Intelligent Digital Edge, go to Blackbox.co.uk or contact us.

Why a mobile-first strategy is a necessity at the Intelligent Digital Edge

We live in a world where mobile connectivity is not a luxury, but an absolute necessity. According to recent reports, 70% of businesses will be completely mobile by 2020. The need for reliable, quality connections anywhere spans from the consumer’s daily life to the business world and everywhere in-between. The companies that will succeed in the long run are the ones that create a mobile-first strategy that focuses on the underlying technologies that will enable the experiences expected by today’s mobile users.

Unfortunately for most organisations, the wireless infrastructure needed to meet user and business demands is lacking. It’s time to rethink mobility initiatives in the larger context of digital transformation. When it comes to digital transformation, mobility is top of mind for CIOs and their IT teams. There is a sole focus from these stakeholders to adapt to the proliferation of mobile devices and applications.

Whether you need to ensure more speed, capacity and reliability for your mobile business-critical applications, or accelerate your next-gen Wi-Fi deployment — or in most cases both — the intelligent digital edge is your answer.

The intelligent digital edge is that space in and around virtually any facility where people and devices meet. It’s where users are located, where data is created and consumed and where applications are shared. This is where the real opportunity is for digital transformation, and wireless is a fundamental capability in enabling the digital edge.

However, with great opportunity comes great challenges. Capacity has reached critical mass at the edge and it is no longer acceptable to provide simple connectivity.  Connectivity must be mobile with mission-critical performance that can be dialled up on demand driving efficient and uninterrupted operations.

Comprehensive wireless networking expertise is required to optimise Wi-Fi networks and integrate 4G LTE (5G) service accessibility and reliability. It is important to note that wireless requirements can vary across enterprises. For those markets that are truly mission-critical, such as first responders and military, there are also public safety communication solutions to consider. The key is a purpose-built, mobile-first solution for your organisation’s specific needs. Mobility is not a one size fits all solution. With the right mix of intelligent edge solutions and by leveraging different types of wireless technology, you can mobilise more people and devices, dial-up capacity as you need to and keep the information flowing in and out of your enterprise.

Find the right mobility solution at Black Box. We can optimise the design, streamline the deployment and deliver ongoing management to establish a wireless network that you can rely on now and well into the future. When you unlock the digital edge, you set the groundwork for secure, uniform, robust mobile experiences that are expected anywhere and everywhere people and devices meet in your facilities.

Learn how Black Box makes Mobility happen.

How Virtual Solutions Are Changing The Air Traffic Control Landscape

Physical air traffic control (ATC) towers may soon be a thing of the past as virtual solutions offer cost savings and added safety. Instead of an on-site tower, virtual air traffic control rooms can be low-rise buildings located hundreds of miles away from the airport. Live video is displayed on screens for controllers, who can access and control cameras and other communication devices remotely. One virtual air traffic control room can manage multiple airports, perhaps even dozens at a time.

Improved Safety

Virtual ATC rooms provide improved visibility to air traffic controllers. IP-based cameras powered by PoE can be located anywhere throughout the airport grounds. They offer 360-degree views and remote PTZ capabilities to see places traditional control towers cannot. Cameras with infrared or other special sensors enable enhanced viewing at night and during bad weather. Additionally, the video images can be superimposed with flight information to help controllers manage traffic and improve communication with pilots.

Reduced Costs

Virtual air traffic control rooms are much less costly to build than traditional towers in terms of physical building and equipment costs as well as operating costs. The scalability of virtual technologies results in additional cost savings. Airports can add switches and cameras as they grow and pay for equipment only as it is needed.

Norway is currently consolidating ATC from 15 small airports into one central virtual control room—with the potential to add even more airports in the future. The country anticipates savings of 30 to 40% in reduced building, equipment, maintenance and personnel costs thanks to the virtual solution.

Enhanced Security

IP-based camera networks for air traffic control contain numerous redundancies to ensure network availability. These include dual power supplies and additional routes for data. Because the virtual ATC tower can be located far away from the airport, it can stay up and running even if an emergency—such as a fire, power outage or terrorist attack—happens at the airport.

Mission-Critical Reliability

The stakes are very high for virtual air traffic control towers. Visualization and communication must continue at all times to ensure the safety of travelers as well as the efficient management of traffic flow. Reliable equipment and redundancies are a must, and it is essential to maintain the security of the data being transferred to protect airports from hackers and terrorists.

Solutions for Virtual Air Traffic Control

  • IP-based cameras powered by PoE deliver high-definition video
  • High-performance IP-based KVM matrix switching solutions provide access to safe and climate controlled physical or virtual servers in a central equipment room
  • Industrial Ethernet switches are designed to withstand harsh conditions and provide instantaneous failover for mission-critical applications
  • PoE industrial media converters power cameras and backhaul video traffic over long distances when integrated with fiber
  • Dynamic video walls display data for air traffic controllers in real time
  • Network accessibility enables controllers and administrators to view video feeds from any web-enabled device

While virtual air traffic control towers are still very new (the first one began operating in 2015) and not yet widespread, the advantages they offer suggest that they will soon replace physical towers even at the world’s biggest and busiest airports.

Black Box has the equipment and expertise to help you plan and implement a reliable, secure and cost-effective virtual ATC infrastructure. Visit our airports solution page to learn more about Black Box ATC technology solutions or contact us today to get started.

Gaining Intelligent Digital Edge Benefits Without the IT and Operation Headaches

The rise of mobility and IoT can be daunting as you take the next steps to drive your digital transformation forward. The good news is that through the Intelligent Digital Edge, companies can secure a path to a scalable and streamlined digital transformation that taps into all that these technologies can offer; however, long-term success is contingent upon looking beyond the must-needed technologies and system implementation. It’s simply not enough to design and deploy an intelligent solution at the digital edge.

Once a system has been deployed, this is just the beginning in what is possible. To fully take advantage of what the Intelligent Digital Edge can deliver, companies must adhere to ongoing and proactive management with the tailored expertise that takes the burden of IT and operational challenges off the table. By alleviating these burdens, businesses can focus on what’s most important and what they do best – their business.

Consider the architecture necessary to succeed at the digital edge. There is foundational technology like mission-critical mobility with Wi-Fi, 4G/5G, and public safety. There is also the implementation of intelligent networking, featuring structured cabling and carrier/internet connectivity. Plus, a robust network and physical security are essential.

But even after that’s in place, an additional layer of enabling technology aimed at fulfilling specific business outcomes must be ingrained into the design. This layer can include location solutions to permit in-store wayfinding and inventory optimisation, unified communication and smart board solutions that enhance team collaboration, or specialised IoT devices that drive new outcomes.

The upshot is that even once installed, the job is nowhere near over when it comes to ensuring that an Intelligent Digital Edge performs smoothly and consistently over time. To do that, proactive managed services are vital, and to get this right means tailoring support to unique needs – needs that can include handling day-to-day operations like service desk, monitoring, maintenance, and trouble shooting. This also requires the transparency of best-in-class service level agreements.

Reaching these management goals necessitates a large staff of technicians with a depth of knowledge and experience. For most businesses, this means going outside the organisation to align itself with a partner who can deliver support regardless of the region. Whether in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, or Asia, the right management will make sure performance is consistent across all networks and devices.

Embracing the Intelligent Digital Edge isn’t just about a tailored design or installing the best solutions (albeit these two components are integral to the process); it’s about staying in front of changes and having the perfect team in place to anticipate evolving needs. For more information on how great management can support superior design and deployment, speak with a Black Box representative about making your Intelligent Digital Edge pain-free long after it’s deployed.

Devising a Deployment Strategy that Smoothly Integrates Digital Transformation

Every forward-looking business knows that to effectively compete they must shift their thinking to the Digital Edge. In fact, 60 percent of executives believe that failure to adapt to hyper-connectivity is their company’s biggest risk.

As discussed in our previous blog, the first step in creating an Intelligent Digital Edge is developing a design roadmap that not only accounts for an organisation’s specific goals and requirements but is also nimble enough to adapt to wider, ever-changing shifts in both technology and business needs.

That said, putting a rock-solid design plan in place is merely a first step; equally important is identifying the deployment solution that is uniform, consistent, and scalable. This is a stage in the process that should never be taken lightly. The larger and more broadly deployed your enterprise, the greater the complexity – and the greater the risk of dissatisfying customers and employees due to inconsistent and unpredictable user experiences.

More than 70 percent of most IT organisations’ time is spent simply ‘keeping the lights on’, according to 2016 Global Operating Model Research from Accenture Strategy. As a result, one of the biggest impediments to deployment for many organisations is the commitment it takes to focus on the physical roll-out.

There are best practices which utilise agile processes that consistently save clients time, headaches, and money. In most cases, a true partner that can establish a centralised command and control location to optimise deployments by geography during the planning and execution phases, and can provide uniform on-site standards and localised deliverables tailored to regions, will be the difference in ensuring that every solution is deployed the same every time.

Whether a deployment is scaling from the 100s to the 1000s or from the 10,000s to the 100,000s, a key to assuring a business is getting it right is aligning itself with a partner that boasts a depth and breadth of experience at the digital edge – this means a partner that has extensive experience updating hundreds of locations worldwide every night. It also means a company with a large army of highly-trained technicians – on a global scale – who can guarantee that any wrinkles in deployment can be smoothed quickly and competently.

The sooner you deploy your Intelligent Digital Edge, the faster you can unlock the value that digital transformation can deliver for your enterprise. To get started, you can speak with a Black Box representative about how we can devise and execute a deployment strategy that will seamlessly deliver your digital transformation

Designing an Intelligent Digital Edge that Transforms Business

We understand. You’re doing your best to deliver the technologies users demand across the enterprise. However, as we covered in our previous blog post, with the influx of IoT and mobility, challenges at the digital edge may be standing between you and your digital transformation goals. The simple fact is, before you can create more interactive, immersive and scalable user experience, you need to embrace the Intelligent Digital Edge.

However, not every digital edge approach is created equal.  How can you ensure the design of the digital edge will meet your organisation’s needs now and in the future?

A digital roadmap that is powerfully aligned to your organisation’s unique goals and needs will help you to quickly adapt to changing technology and business requirements – and supercharge innovation, scale and velocity.

The roadmap begins with a fine-tuned discovery process that can expose critical business drivers and align them with sound technical solutions, including mission-critical mobility, intelligent networking and built-in security.  It should also identify the right mix of enabling technologies to create the high-performance experiences that transform businesses. Finally, even the most innovative roadmaps need to be deployed with precision to enable consistent and repeatable experiences.

The larger and more distributed your enterprise, the greater the complexity. To transform at scale, you need a partner who can deploy both nationally and globally with speed and agility—regardless of the amount of technology or the number of locations.

As deployments move from 1000s of locations to 10,000s of IoT devices in a single location, Black Box is there.  And once deployed, we offer extensive managed services solutions that are proactive and tailored to meet your unique needs.

Ready to get started? To speak with a Black Box representative about how we can design your Intelligent Digital Edge for your digital transformation visit http://web3.blackbox.com/contact-me.

Social Engineering and the Weakest Link – Your Employees

Today, social engineering is recognised as one of the greatest security threats facing organisations of all sizes.

Social engineering involves psychological manipulation and human interaction. It is an attack that centres on fooling unsuspecting employees into revealing confidential information or performing some action, like clicking on a link or transferring money. The request usually includes some violating of the organisation’s security policies and procedures.

Social engineering takes many forms. It often begins with a phone call or an email, but can also include text messages and even in-person dialogue. The attacker will attempt to establish legitimacy and gain the confidence of the employee by pretending to be a superior, like your company’s CEO, a co-worker at a remote office or a vendor or contractor.

Once the attacker has established credibility, which may take multiple contacts, they will ask for something, usually with a sense of urgency leading the victim (your employee) to promptly reveal sensitive information. Requests can be as simple as “I just need” something—someone’s schedule, a password, a username, PIN or even access to a building. Clicking a malicious link or opening a malicious file in an email can grant the attacker remote access to your network where they can access bank accounts, customer information, employee records and other corporate data. Requests can also be more blatant in terms of asking for payment for services or credit card information.

While it may be time-consuming and expensive, your staff needs to be trained and regularly retrained on what red flags to look for and how to report suspicious activity. More and more organisations are finding that educating employees about threats is more effective and important than hardware and software defences.

Training can include teaching employees to be wary of unsolicited communications. They need to know how to verify that a caller asking for information is really a co-worker by getting their number from the company directory and calling them back. The same tactic can be used when requests come from so-called vendors. If it’s a legit communication, the caller won’t mind.

Teach employees simple methods to recognise threats such as mouse-overs and how to reach an email address or domain name. Look for links in emails with misspelled URLs, such as blackb0x.com. Other tip offs are poor spelling and grammar, an offer that seems to be too good to be true or even a threat if the request isn’t met. Employees shouldn’t click on any suspicious email or link and may want to forward it to an information security mailbox.

Don’t forget social media either. Employees access Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter from their mobile devices and work computers. Social media is so easy to use, people lower their guard. It’s really a no-trust environment. It’s too easy for employees to share too much information on public websites. Establish social media ‘Do and Don’t’ training to teach users how to protect themselves—and your company.

People are the weakest link in your company’s security program because they’re generally trusting and helpful. This basic human nature is the vulnerability that is exploited in a social engineering attack. Based on findings from security engineers and penetration testers, social engineering is often the easiest way into an organisation. It’s up to you to make sure employees are aware of the dangers.

 

A Quick Start Guide to Your Intelligent Digital Edge Journey

Fuelled by mobility and IoT, digital transformation is under way in every industry and in companies of all sizes. In fact, 20-billion devices are expected to be added over the next five years – that is nearly half a million devices per hour. In addition to the explosion of devices and connections, user expectations are evolving. Users demand easy, real-time connections to digital services and experiences wherever they are and on any device. In fact, more than half of all digital strategists cite “evolving customer behaviours and preferences” as the primary catalyst for change.

Companies that will come out ahead in digital transformation are replacing legacy solutions and embracing the Intelligent Digital Edge.  The digital edge is where people, data, and devices meet – in an office, a retail store, a hospital, or a manufacturing site.   Adding intelligence to the digital edge is proven to accelerate digital transformations and deliver the foundation needed to keep pace with evolving technology demands.

To successfully digitally transform at the edge, companies need to adopt and deploy two types of technologies: foundational and enabling. Foundational technology lays the ground work for organisations to be future-ready and rapidly adopt new, enabling technology to drive specific business outcomes.

Foundational technology includes:
• Enterprise Wireless Technologies: mission-critical mobility with Wi-Fi, 4G/5G, and public safety
• Intelligent Networking and Cabling & Connectivity: comprehensive intelligent networking that includes the basics of structured cabling and carrier/internet connectivity
• Built-in Security – both network and physical
• Edge Analytics

Examples of enabling technology are:
• Location solutions to permit in-store wayfinding and inventory optimization
• Unified communication and smart board solutions that enhance team collaboration
• Specialised IoT devices that drive new outcomes

Companies must be able to design and deploy both the foundational and enabling technologies with uniformity and consistency to deliver the results end-users demand and once deployed, they must be able to manage the technology.

Black Box can help.  With more than 40 years of experience connecting people, devices, and data, we are the trusted digital partner to bring intelligence to the edge.  By understanding the intricacies and nuances of each customer’s business, we deliver industry-specific designs, global deployment capabilities and managed services that help companies tap into an Intelligent Digital Edge to accelerate digital transformations.

We engineer Intelligent Digital Edge solutions that enable our customers to mobilise more people and devices, leverage more data, dial-up capacity as needed, and defend the information flowing in and out of your enterprise.

To speak with a Black Box representative to start the Intelligent Digital Edge journey, visit: http://web3.blackbox.com/contact-me.

The Intelligent Digital Edge: The Key to Accelerating Digital Transformation

Today’s business landscape is quickly evolving with IoT on the rise and anytime, anywhere, any device mobile user experiences in high demand. The companies that digitally transform to embrace the evolving digital world will succeed, and those that don’t will be left behind with catastrophic results. To meet this challenge head on, companies must adjust strategies and embrace the Intelligent Digital Edge.

The digital edge is that space in and around office buildings, hotels, factories, hospitals – virtually any facility where people and devices meet. It’s where users are located, where data is created and consumed, and where applications are shared. This is where the real opportunity is to make digital transformation happen; however, to be effective, the digital edge needs to be transformed through more intelligent solutions.

The exponential explosion in the number and diversity of devices and applications has made one thing abundantly clear – legacy IT architectures and deployment models are simply not adequate. Complexity challenges are overwhelming network, computing, and staff IT resources while the technical demands just keep escalating.

To drive superior experiences, ensure capacity flexibility, and secure uninterrupted service, a new digital edge is needed – one that is driven by intelligence. When designed, deployed, and managed correctly, the Intelligent Digital Edge enables:

  • High-performance User Experience: Bridging the physical and digital worlds, experiences at the edge are localised and uniform across all locations. Digital and real-time in nature, it scales to leverage IoT and analytics to drive business outcomes. By being analytics-enabled it drives better user experiences and real-time business decisions.
  • Mobile-first Capacity: Capacity has reached critical mass and it is no longer acceptable to provide simple connectivity. Anytime mobility at the edge is required for uninterrupted operations – all with mission-critical performance and on-demand capacity to drive efficient and unhindered operations. The intelligent edge is software-driven to enable mobile workflows while dynamically optimising capacity and traffic.
  • Built-in Security: Theft of data or loss of connectivity can be devastating. The Intelligent Digital Edge has security built in, so you can see and prevent threats and interruptions before they happen. Providing and protecting the edge eliminates downtime and ensures timely decision-making in highly-regulated and latency-sensitive settings.

We understand that many companies lack the existing skillsets, resources, and expertise to design, deploy, and manage at the edge to deliver a scalable digital transformation quickly and consistently. This is why Black Box is the trusted digital partner. Our proven success in connecting people, devices, and data – right where they need to be for maximum impact – is possible by bringing together our global team of skilled technicians, unique partnerships, processes, and network operating centres. Our industry-specific consulting, mission-critical designs, global deployment capabilities, and customer dedication is a combination that sets Black Box apart.

When you unlock the power of the Intelligent Digital Edge, you enable secure, uniform, mobile, future-ready experiences that are available anywhere people and devices meet in your facilities.

To speak with a Black Box representative about embracing the intelligent edge for your digital transformation visit http://web3.blackbox.com/contact-me

 

4 Key Benefits of Using Technology in Education

Technology is part of everyday life. There is a widespread variety of technology tools such as laptops, mobile phones, tablets and e-book readers, and their use has been influencing the teaching and learning process in educational facilities. The Internet allows for the possibility of learning anywhere in the world, contributing to distant/remote learning and enabling students to conduct research, and access and submit assignments online. As lecture theatres and traditional classrooms give place to active learning and collaborative environments, using technology in the classroom is playing a large role.

This article shows 4 key benefits that technology brings to education:

1. Wireless Collaborative Learning

Active classroom collaboration is fundamental for a better learning experience. Wireless presentation systems play an important role in terms of information sharing in collaborative environments. With this system it’s possible to display different types of content (desktop, docs, images, videos, and apps) and audio from any device to a normal TV or large monitor, allowing students and teachers to present and share, and to comment on displayed content, without constraints.

Wireless presentation systems are used for a range of applications such as:

  • Connecting a laptop, desktop PC, smartphone or tablet to any TV wirelessly,
  • Simultaneous screen mirroring of multiple devices to a centralised monitor,
  • Streaming video and audio from any device onto a bigger screen,
  • Allowing users to share content on a common screen, enabling every user to interact with it.

2. Computer-Based Training

Computer-based training is based on the use of networked devices to access trainings and learning activities. Affordable, high-quality telecommunication and infrastructure solutions make this  accessible for everyone, whether you use cabling or a wireless Ethernet extension.

3. Multi-Format Video Distribution

Localised presentation switching support allows teachers to easily connect, switch, scale and extend any video device to any display or screen. Presentation switchers/scalers can easily be installed in lecterns and enable teachers to focus on the lecture material, not on setting up the technology.

4. Digital Wayfinding and Informative Signage

Eye-catching networked digital signage allows education facilities to stream content from the school website, and visualise timetables, events and useful wayfinding information. These solutions are a great way to promote important news and social events for students throughout the school campus.

Black Box provides Primary, Secondary and Higher Education with AV and Infrastructure solutions that are quickly becoming essential to the modern classroom.

If you are wondering which technology solution would fit your educational setting, you should be asking yourself these questions:

  1. Does the current infrastructure benefit from using technology in the classroom?
  2. What are you doing to fully utilise student devices?
  3. How are you using collaboration tools for teaching?

Want to know more?
Download our “Erase Learning Barriers” brochure

Download our “Erase Learning Barriers” brochure and find out how Black Box solutions can help you to:

  • Achieve collaborative active learning,
  • Create and share group presentations in an educational setting,
  • Facilitate visual learning and interactivity amongst students,
  • Encourage involvement with mutual knowledge sharing, insight and intellect contribution.

 

 

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.

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.

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.