All posts by Black Box

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.

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.