Top 10 Products from Black Box for 2015

Taking a look back at 2015, it’s clear that Black Box provides end-to-end infrastructure, professional AV technology, and networking solutions. The variety of products that made our Top Products’ list is representative of many different walks of IT and AV. Let’s take a look at our best sellers from 2015, and how they fit your applications.

1. IP-Based KVM Switching and Extension

Transmit DVI, USB, and audio signals in real time over an Ethernet LAN with the Agility IP-Based KVM Switching and Extension System. Standard CATx cabling delivers IP traffic via the Agility transmitters and receivers up to 100 m. For longer distances, add a network switch, which will give you an additional 100 metres.

With the Agility Controller Unit turn your IP-based Agility system of transmitters and receivers into a managed matrix switching system with this component at its center directing traffic over your LAN.

For more information, visit our Solutions pages.

2. MediaCento IPX Solution
Distribute digital video signals, including HDMI, over IP to multiple screens. This system is big in hospitality, retail, and other applications where you need to share video. Lossless HD video means crystal-clear images on every display. Check out this digital solution for the future, which comes at an analog price.

MediaCento IPX Receiver
MediaCento IPX Receiver

The MediaCento IPX solution integrates easily into your local area network. Transmit HDMI video and audio over an Ethernet network to a virtually unlimited number of screens as far as your network reaches. The MediaCento Controller adds many features to the solution, including flexible control of video walls, up to 8 x 8. In addition, the LPB2900 Series Gigabit Ethernet Managed PoE+ Switches can be outfitted with the MediaCento Controller software for HD video extension and switching. It’s the market’s first network switch that enables users to remotely control and switch AV from any source to any display. Three switches plus the software is available at Black Box.

3. GigaTrue™ CAT6 550-MHz Bulk Cable and GigaBase™ 350 CAT5e Solid Bulk Cable
ETL-Verified. HDBaseT recommended. Reliable performance. Guaranteed for life. When it comes to cabling, Black Box doesn’t fool around. Our bulk copper cabling integrates into new building projects whether you’re expanding or starting from the ground up.

All cabling solutions offer performance designed to last the lifetime of your system, whether in the data center or at the desktop — or beyond. Visit our CATx cable selector or our cabling home page for more choices.

4. Media Converters enable you to connect to different types of media within a network. To find the right media converter for your application, visit our media converter selector.

For example, look at the Multipower Miniature Media Converters. The autosensing MDI/MDI-X copper ports of these small converters means you don’t need to worry about what kind of cable to use. Easily migrate networks from Ethernet to Fast Ethernet all the way to Gigabit Ethernet. Compact in size, and still supports distances up to 10 kilometres.

5. KVM Extenders

Extend digital video signals and USB functionality over CATx or fibre cabling in order to streamline workflow, improve operator efficiency, and benefit from reliable signal distribution without interruption.

KVM extenders that support digital signals enable you to reduce noise and heat in the workplace, which improves productivity. Secure your hardware and secure your data by backracking vital workstations. A few examples are the ACX300/310 Series KVM Extenders, Wizard SRX DVI Extender for USB, and the Dual-Head DisplayPort KVM Extender over CATx. Digital signals are higher in quality, interconnectivity is more reliable, and the technology is future proof in regards to connected devices. Remain competitive by integrating KVM solutions across the enterprise.

To choose the right KVM extenders for your application, visit our KVM extender selector, or call one of our tech experts at 00800-CALLBBOX (00800-2255 2269).

6. Video and multimedia extenders enable you to distribute audio and video signals for digital signage, enhance presentations, and extend video beyond the boardroom. With Black Box video extenders, you can send video and audio signals farther than with conventional cabling. Deliver pixel-perfect video and high quality audio to remote displays.

Mini CATxVGA Extender Kit
Mini CATxVGA Extender Kit
Multi DVI-D CATx Extender Receiver
Multi DVI-D CATx Extender Receiver
3D HDMI CATx Extender
3D HDMI CATx Extender

7. Copper Patch Cables, 3-Series Lockable Patch Cables
Our high standards shine through with our 3-Series patch cables. These CAT5e/6/6A cables give you three levels of security, depending on the optional locking pin you choose. Secure your network ports, but only when you need to. Guaranteed for life!

These cables offer easy Layer 1 security for many environments, including healthcare, education, finance, government, retail, transportation, and more. Choose from locked (Red), secure (Green), or protected (no pin) to get the level of security that suits your application best.

8. Console Servers

Ensure maximum uptime with out-of-band management console servers, sometimes called terminal servers. They give network managers a single-point-of control to remotely monitor, manage, and troubleshoot critical IT infrastructure from anywhere in the world. Console servers offer backdoor management for business continuity, multiple applications for multiple industries, and problem solving for distributed sites.

See our selection of console servers here, and find one to fit your application.

9. USB Extension

Demanding users trust Black Box USB extension products for applications like pro audio visual, industrial automation, education, medical diagnostics and imaging, remote desktop extension, security, surveillance, and military systems.

Learn more about extending USB over CATx, fibre, and IP networks, and how to deploy USB extension in applications including healthcare, manufacturing, security, and harsh environments. USB extenders are simple to use and cost-effective.

IC282A_PC
USB 1.1 and 2.0 Extender over CAT5e
IC400A_PCS2
USB Ultimate Extender over UTP
LGB304A_PCS
USB-Powered Gigabit 4-Port Switch

Use our USB guide to configure your ultimate serial solution.

10. Black Box networking products make the list with ethernet switches, industrial solutions, and console servers. Find what you need to connect and improve your network, including USB switches for increasing network speeds, such as the USB-Powered Gigabit 4-Port Switch, pictured above. Expand a small network without breaking the bank. Increase to Gigabit speeds via four autosensing 10-/100-/1000-Mbps ports. This compact and convenient switch can be powered via a PC’s USB port or the included AC adapter.

For more information about integrating and deploying infrastructure, networking, and extension products for your organisation, please contact Black Box pre-sales application engineers. Call 00800-CALLBBOX (00800-2255 2269) to talk to a technical expert today. Visit the Black Box store to see all our products, and shop for your end-to-end solution now.

Machine vision: 100% assembly line inspection

Machine vision technology—the image-based automatic inspection process—has matured greatly and is now becoming an indispensable tool in manufacturing to increase quality and profitability. USB 3.0, with its 5-Gbps throughput and ability to send power and data over the same line, has greatly contributed to this growth.

What is machine vision?
Machine vision is an image-based, automatic inspection and analysis system for applications, such as process control. It automatically takes pictures to inspect materials as they come down the assembly line.

Other machine vision applications include:

  • PCB inspection.
  • Medical vial inspection.
  • Robot guidance and orientation of components.
  • Engine parts inspection.

Machine vision uses a small industrial camera and lights mounted near an assembly line to take pictures of product as it passes. The images are then analysed by software to determine if various aspects of the product meet acceptable specifications. For instance, if a label is misplaced, the bottle will be rejected. All of this is done at incredibly high speeds—fractions of a second.

Years ago, machine vision systems were very expensive, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. But in the last 15 years or so, advances in technology have brought the cost of machine vision down, making it a practical solution for 100 percent quality control. And the cost for implementing machine vision keeps decreasing as technological capabilities increase.

Machine vision is now an indispensable tool for quality assurance, sorting, and material handling in every industry, including electronics, food processing, pharmaceuticals, packaging, automotive, etc. It is an economical way to make sure sub-spec product is rejected. Machine vision can be used to inspect for geometry, placement, packaging, labeling, seal integrity, finish, color, pattern, bar code, and almost any other parameter you can think of.

USB 3.0 and machine vision
USB 3.0 brings a number of advantages to machine vision systems. Because of its 5-Gbps throughput, ten times more than USB 2.0, it eliminates problems of stability and low latency for image transmission and camera control. USB 3.0 enables the transmission of higher-resolution, higher-frame rate video with no loss of quality.

USB 3.0 also sends data and power on the same line. This is enough to power a camera without worrying about a separate power supply or power line.

In addition, compared to older systems, USB 3.0 is plug-and-play, making it easy to swap out cameras and other hardware, such as USB 3.0 extenders, and other devices.

Related:

USB Product Selector

Virtualized remote computing for retail outlets

KVM matrix switching gives multiple users access to a variety of target devices, including but not limited to CPUs, digital signage, and servers; the ability to monitor workflow; and flexible control of visual and peripheral elements.

Deploying KVM extension that operates over a LAN/WAN (local area network/wide area network) and incorporates virtual and physical CPUs gives retailers access options, reduces clutter in the workplace, and saves on energy costs.

In retail and inventory management systems virtualized remote computing is especially advantageous. Receiver units at the cash registers can access information on a virtual machine that runs on a server appliance.

This remote virtual system gives users access to their Active Directory accounts that is incorporated into a connection broker, with no need to set up a separate directory on the KVM system. The receivers gain access to virtual machines via Microsoft® Server 2008 or Microsoft Server 2012. By utilizing a connection broker, the virtualized machines can be easily duplicated, enabling workers to connect to the first available target without having to identify the target. This streamlines workflow and simplifies processes in busy retail applications.

Retail Point-of-Sale Application
A) Cash registers with KVM receivers
B) Server with virtualized CPUs
C) Manager workstation with KVM receiver
D) System manager unit

In addition, a KVM system that works over a LAN/WAN this way supports NLA (network level authentication) for security. It also can continue to support physical CPUs while expanding into virtualization.

As is seen in KVM technology, other benefits include a low total cost of ownership (TCO); improved operability and quick ROI; maximum, scalability, and improved reliability; and green IT solutions with energy-saving design and distribution.

To see details about Black Box’s virtualized solution, visit our InvisaPC pages. Contact our application engineers to see how this next-generation KVM can improve your organization’s workflow and ergonomics.

How to terminate your own patch cable

Of all the components in your network, none is arguably more underrated than the RJ-45 connector. Simplicity incarnate, this transparent marvel literally defines plug-and-play connectivity—from the desktop to the data center. Yet it defies the obvious: How’d they get those wires in there? Who puts these things together? Where are the seams?
Wiring-Standards-terminate-your-own-patch-cable

So, in the spirit of demystifying one more aspect of modern-day communications, we give you this behind-the-scenes look at terminating twisted-pair cable using RJ connectors.

The prep work.
First, gather your materials. You’ll need bulk cable, such as the bulk cable, a cable cutter and stripper, a connector, a pre-plug (optional), a crimp tool, and a continuity tester. All these items—except the cable and the pre-plugs—are in our CAT6 and CAT5e Terminations Kit.

The challenge: Do it right the first time.
You must take time to install each connector carefully, according to the specifications of the wiring system you’re installing. Then test each cable to certify that it supports the specified performance levels — in this case, the TIA specs for CATx cabling. The wiring standards illustration (above right) indicates proper T568A, T568B, and USOC pairing and pinning for twisted pair cable. T568B wiring is most commonly used in Europe for networking.

Terminate-own-patch-cable-step-1Step one
First, start with a wire stripping tool, such as the Multi-Strip (FT231A). Next, put the tool around the cable, squeeze, and carefully remove the jacketing from the cable. You’ll want to expose about one inch of the insulated wire conductors.

DO NOT remove any insulation from the conductors.

When you crimp the RJ-45 connector, the contacts inside will pierce the conductor insulation to make contact, so there’s no need to do it here.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-twoStep two
Untwist each pair of conductors to within 1⁄8″ of the jacket with a stripping tool. Do not untwist the conductors more than 1⁄2″. Arrange the wires according to the cable spec you’re using (T568B in this case). Flatten and align the wires. Use your wire cutters and make one straight cut across all the conductors. Trim the ends to ensure they’re all of equal length. Once you cut the cable, make sure you flatten out the wires.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-3Step three
Orient the wires so the cable’s Pin 1 connector aligns correctly with the RJ-45 connector’s Pin 1, and do the same for all pins. (To maintain the correct alignment, see “Rule of Thumb” below.) While carefully maintaining the proper position of each conductor, slide the wires into an RJ-45 connector.

All connectors must extend all the way into the conductor so they’re flush against the back and aligned underneath the contacts within the plastic connector housing. The cable jacket should also extend into the connector about 1⁄4″ for strain relief.

Rule of Thumb:
Many people miswire RJ-45 connectors because they’re careless about proper conductor alignment. Before terminating connectors, be sure they’re oriented properly so connector Pin 1 aligns with cable Pin 1, etc. To determine which RJ-45 contact is Pin 1 in CATx applications, hold the connector in front of your face as if you were going to plug it onto the tip of your nose. With the locking thumb tab up, connector Pin 1 is on the far left.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-4Step four
Insert the connector into an RJ-45 crimp tool. Make sure you’re using the proper die for the type of connector you’re using. For instance, connectors that use a load bar require a different crimp die than connectors that don‘t feature a load bar. If you don’t use the right die, you’ll damage the connector when you try to crimp it.

Firmly squeeze the crimp tool handles together. They’ll lock in a ratcheting action as you crimp the connector. A final click indicates the connector is firmly latched, and you can release the handles.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-fiveStep five
Check your work using a continuity tester or cable certifier rated for the cable standard you’re installing. Your tester should be able to check for shorts, opens, or miswires.

For network certification, more expensive testers can even store and download test results based on standardized minimum performance levels.

The result
The majority of RJ-45 cables are terminated by machine. But field technicians and professional cable installers crimp on modular connectors every day. You can terminate cables, too. Once you do, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the skill it takes to successfully terminate these cables inside a connector the size of a jelly bean.

For questions or to learn more about building and testing a patch cable, contact our FREE Tech Support.

Additional Resources:
Video: How to Terminate and Test Copper Cable
Video: Learn how to identify counterfeit cables

Encourage collaboration with modern huddle spaces and conference rooms

Research shows collaborative environments foster innovation, improve team performance by ensuring everyone is working towards the same goal, and increase employee retention since people prefer to belong to a team and contribute to the team’s goals. Next generation workers and the need for companies to compete on a global basis will drive demand for collaboration solutions throughout the organization, according to a Wainhouse Research study.

Perhaps that’s why, in recent years, a more agile approach to meetings and working in collaborative groups has been embraced by schools and businesses of all sizes. Implementing collaboration solutions such as huddle spaces, or small-space meeting areas, in addition to larger conference rooms is one of the ways organizations are making this change.

What is a huddle space?

A huddle space is a smaller meeting space, which can take place just about anywhere. It typically accommodates six or less attendees. They range from basic spaces to well-equipped and advanced rooms. Basic huddle spaces, with either open area or private closed rooms, may be equipped with a small table, some chairs, a speakerphone, and perhaps a dry erase board. Whereas, well-equipped and advanced huddle rooms may include flat panel displays, integrated AV conferencing, and a wireless presentation system. Huddle spaces do not typically include enhancements such as ceiling speakers, acoustic wall treatment, or AV control system.

What should your huddle space include to promote collaboration?

The way huddle spaces are used varies by organization, location, vertical market, culture, etc. Whether or not a huddle space is effective depends on the given task and requirement of the space. If you’re planning for a well-equipped huddle space, you should also consider your AV technology needs as well.

In general, your huddle space should include equipment that has:

  1. Interoperability with other products you may have in the space such as screens, projectors, panels, or touchscreens.
  1. BYOD support which allows collaboration/sharing of any type of device the meeting participant has. For example, participants could bring a laptop, tablet PC, mobile phone, or netbook and connect with ease.
  1. Content sharing capabilities. For example, a presenter may need to share any number of pieces of content with other participants simultaneously.
  1. An intuitive interface, which will reduce barriers to use. The easier your equipment is to use, the more participants feel comfortable using new technology.
  1. The ability to allow an unlimited number of users to participate. While there is a practical limit to the number of people that can fit in a room or share a screen, facilities change and so do user’s needs. Try not to get locked into limiting systems which only allow 4-6 concurrent users.

In addition to many of the items needed to make a good huddle space, for your larger conference rooms you may need additional AV solutions.

What should your modern conference room include to promote collaboration?

Today’s larger meeting rooms often come with higher expectations. They will certainly start with the same type of collaboration solutions discussed earlier for huddle spaces. Additionally, they must provide support for tomorrow’s technology using today’s design. These rooms often require more types of equipment, which may require support for a wide range of video signals.

In general, your modern conference room should include equipment that has:

  1. Switching capabilities to manage video signals that need to be shown on one or more displays.
  1. Presenter control options for switching. For more efficient meetings, select a switch that automatically switches to a new source when a new user connects a device.
  1. Scaling able to work with a wide range of video signals, both current and legacy, to ensure the display is compatible with anything that needs to be presented.
  1. Reliable video distribution capabilities to send and receive audio, video, control and even power from another room or building.
  1. Video wall capability to display any source from anywhere with switching control.

When designing and outfitting the spaces, it’s important to think ahead and design for AV systems that can adapt and grow as technology changes.

Have a collaboration space that needs to be enabled by AV technology? Call a Black Box AV expert.

Additional Resources:
Content sharing: Wireless Presentation systems
See our AV and Multi Media solutions
Storage and charching of mobile devices

Part 2 – How to Set Up a Dynamic Video Wall Without a Video Wall Processor

In just seven quick steps, take our AV-over-IP video distribution system from a static video wall to a dynamic video wall with switching and control. No additional video wall processor required.

In Part 1, we covered how to set up a static video wall without a video processor. Now it’s time to turn it up a notch and learn how to set up a dynamic video wall with added control and switching.

Recall we started with the MediaCento IPX PoE Multicast 1 x 4 Kit. The kit includes a transmitter, four receivers, a PoE (Power over Ethernet) network switch, and five 2-meter (6.5-feet) locking HDMI cables. Everything you need to multicast HDMI video over an IP network and create static video walls.

In order to make the video wall dynamic, you’ll need to add to the existing system:

The additional sources and transmitters enable additional content to display, and the controller enables you to take full control over the IP-based transmitters and receivers.

Let’s dive right in to the MediaCento multicasting system and get the controller up and running.

Step 1: Connect Additional Transmitters to the Switch and Source
In this scenario, we have one additional source, a laptop, so we will need one additional transmitter. Connect the second transmitter to the PoE network switch using a CATx cable. Then, using a locking HDMI cable, connect source – in this case, a laptop – to the transmitter unit.

Step 2: Connect the MediaCento IPX Controller
Connect the power supply to the controller and connect it to the network switch using a CATx cable.

Step 3: Access the Controller’s Web Interface
Use the Web interface to configure the controller. Open the Web browser, and type the IP address in the address field.

Note: For more details regarding IP addresses, see the user manual included with the controller.

Step 4: Detect Units
In the Web interface, go to the Hardware tab and:

  • Click the “Detect Units” button. The controller automatically detects all receivers and transmitters on the network. In this case, the IP address of the transmitter connected to the laptop is 169.254.4.73 and the iCOMPEL media player is 169.254.2.58.
  • Optionally, rename the receivers for easier setup. Click the “Show OSD” button to show the receiver’s IP names on the displays, and then click the “Rename Device” button to rename each of the receiver’s IP addresses to a findable name. For example, C1 R1 (for column 1, row 1), C1 R2, C2 R1, and C2 R2.

web-interface-hardware

Step 5: Update Group Settings
In the Web interface, go to the Groups tab and:

  • Name this group to “2×2 Video Wall” in the Title field.
  • In the “Receivers not in Group” list, select the receivers that you want displayed in the video wall and click the > button to add them to the “Receivers in Group” list. The receivers will appear below the lists.
  • Check the Video Wall This will open the video wall settings where you can specify the number or rows and columns in the video wall as well as monitor information (i.e., bezel width and monitor height and width). It also displays a video wall table.
  • Enter 2 for the number of rows, and 2 for the number of columns. The table will change to show a 2×2 video wall table.
  • Drag and drop the receivers where you would like them displayed in the video wall table. (This is where having the receivers renamed to something more meaningful helps with setup.)

web-interface-groups

  • Click the “Save Group” button.

Step 6: Enable Full-Screen Video Wall
Still in the Web interface, go to the Custom Display tab and select which source you would like to connect to the grouping that was just created. To switch the iCOMPEL media player to show the video wall across all the screens, click the box in the 169.254.2.58 (the IP address associated with the transmitter connected to the media player) column, 2×2 Video Wall row. Then, click the “Switch” button.

web-interface-custom-display

Step 7: Switch Content to Dynamic Display
To switch the display from the video wall only to show the source from the laptop in column 1, row 1, click the box in the column with the second transmitter, 169.254.4.73, and click the “Switch” button.

web-interface-custom-display2

The screen will change to show the content from the second source. In this case, it is pulling content from a Web page.

dynamic-display

Still in the Custom Display tab, click the “Save as a New Preset” button to make the configuration available in your dashboard. The dashboard is available on the mobile application; therefore, with the preset defined you can switch and control the displays from your mobile device.

That’s it! In just seven steps we took the static 2×2 video wall and made it dynamic with switching and control. This is just a snippet of the system’s capabilities. The system can create up to 8×8 video walls with 64 screens.

Need help planning your AV solution?
Enlist the help of a seasoned AV professional. Contact a Black Box technical engineer.

PoE applications and benefits: Save money and time

PoE is a technology that works well for wireless access points, video surveillance, building management, retail video kiosks, smart signs, and retail point-of-information systems, making it possible to easily move a device with minimal disruption. Additionally, if your LAN is protected from owner failure by a UPS, the PoE devices connected to your LAN are also protected from power failure.

Using Power over Ethernet can save hundreds of dollars per Wi-Fi access point (AP) locations compared to a non-PoE solution.

In a non-PoE installation, in addition to the Ethernet backhaul link, power must be wired to the access point. Depending on factors such as AP location, distance from the AC circuit, and local safety codes, the savings from using a PoE solution can be $250-$500 per AP. In harsh, outdoor, or industrial environments, you can save $750-$1500 per AP by using Power over Ethernet.

PoE Mid-Span Injectors add power to Ethernet for powering PoE powered devices ranging from wireless access points to IP cameras. PoE enables you to easily move equipment from room to room without costly, time-consuming rewiring.

Power over Ethernet is also the answer if you’re doing a high-density phone conversion from keyed phones to VoIP phones. There’s a much lower installation cost—all you need to do is provide the Ethernet connection. We have a variety of PoE PSE equipment including switches,media converters, and injectors.

Plus, using PoE can improve VoIP phone system availability. Power over Ethernet PSE gear can be located in data centers with uninterruptible power supplies and battery backup. This arrangement means that your PD VoIP phones will remain working if there’s a power failure. On the other hand, wall-powered phones will stop working when the power goes out.

Additional resources:
Video: Power over Ethernet explained

Oil & Gas Networking and Control Room Solutions

Industrial connectivity and KVM control room solutions for upstream, midstream, and downstream environments.

As the oil and gas industry continues to grow, more and more well sites, pumping stations, pipelines, processing plants, and refineries are being built. Along the entire route, safe, reliable networking and industrial automation are critical to smooth operations, efficiency, and productivity.

In 2014, the United States produced 9.2 million barrels of crude oil a day. The U.S. is now the largest producer of oil and gas, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia due to production from the Marcellus Shale. However, reservoirs of oil are becoming more difficult to access and increasingly less productive. To keep pace global consumptions, oil companies must constantly look for new sources of petroleum, as well as improve the production of existing wells.

Read more about industry solutions  for the oil and gas industry at our website.

Digital KVM Control and Monitoring Solutions for the Energy Industry: Automation, processes, and workflow

Black Box is committed to helping our customers succeed as they transition to the digital media environment. We help clients in the energy industry design and deploy mission-critical solutions.

In drilling operations, KVM systems provide high-quality and instant access to video and control signals from multiple sources to multiple users. In oil and gas exploration, rapid access to graphical data and processes throughout a seismic survey and the ability to respond quickly to status changes are crucial for safe and efficient operation. Remote monitoring solutions in control rooms provide users with better overview, quicker access to data, and failover connectivity. With KVM solutions, users can switch and extend real-time HD video and USB HID over LAN/WAN for remote monitoring.

Black Box KVM Solutions

  • KVM and hybrid KVM peripheral switching platforms
  • Virtual desktop remote management
  • Signal conversion and signal distribution
  • KVM extension to improve ergonomics by reducing heat and noise in the workplace
  • KVM extension over fiber for long distances

Benefits for you:

  • Updating current analog systems to faster and more reliable digital KVM.
  • Remote monitoring operations reduce risk for injuries in dangerous areas.
  • Reduced risk for downtime and accidental environmental disasters.
  • Asset Integrity Management (AIM)
  • Maximize human capital by running parallel tasks with fewer users who have instantaneous access to critical resources.

Learn more about high-performance KVM solutions for the oil and gas industries.

If you have a control room project coming up, contact your local Black Box office.

Ten factors to consider when choosing a cabinet or rack

The sheer number and different types of cabinets and racks can make choosing the right one for your data centre a daunting task. But, if you consider your requirements one at a time, you can zero in on the right cabinet or rack for your application.

A cabinet is an enclosure with four rails and a door (or doors) and side panels. A rack is an open, freestanding 2- or 4-post frame that doesn’t have doors or sides. The decision on whether to use a cabinet or rack depends on a number of factors.

1. Equipment

Before you choose a cabinet or rack, you need to determine what equipment you’re planning to house. This list can include servers, switches, routers, and UPSs. Consider the weight of your equipment as well. The extra stability of a cabinet might be important if you’re installing large, heavy equipment like servers. An open rack is more convenient than a cabinet if you need frequent access to all sides of the equipment.

2. Environment

With the open design, racks are a good choice in areas where security isn’t a concern such as in locked data centres and closets. And racks typically cost less than cabinets.

Cabinets, on the other hand, protect equipment in open, dusty, and industrial environments. Aesthetics can be a factor too. Will customers or clients see your installation? A cabinet with a door looks much neater than an open rack. When you’re trying to create a professional image, everything counts.

3. Ventilation

If your equipment needs ventilation, a rack offers more air circulation than a cabinet. Even if your cabinet is in a climate-controlled room, the equipment in it can generate a lot of heat. The requirements for additional airflow increase as more servers are mounted in a cabinet. Options to improve airflow include doors, fans, and air conditioners.

4. Size

Width: The width between the rails in both cabinets and racks is 19 inches with hole-to-hole centers measuring 18.3 inches. But there are also cabinets and racks with 23-inch rails. Most rackmount equipment is made to fit 19-inch rails but can be adapted to fit wider rails.

Rack Units: One rack unit (RU or U) equals 4.45 cm (1.75 inches) of vertical space on the rails. A device that’s 2U high takes up 8.89 cm (3.5 inches) of vertical rack space. Rack units are typically marked on the rails. The number of rack units determines how much equipment you can install.

Depth: Cabinets and four-post open racks come in different depths ranging anywhere from 61 cm to 122 cm (24 to 48 inches) to accommodate equipment of varying sizes, particularly extra-deep servers. The rails on some cabinets and 4-post open racks are also adjustable to different depths.

When you consider the width, height, and depth of a cabinet or rack, clarify whether they are inside or outside dimensions.

5. Weight

Cabinets and racks vary in terms of the amount of weight capacity. Some cabinets can hold 500 kg or more. Carefully consider the weight of your equipment and decide where you want to mount it before choosing a cabinet or rack.

6. Rails

The vertical rails in cabinets and racks have holes for mounting equipment. Two-post racks typically have threaded 12-24 or 10-32 tapped holes. Four-post racks and cabinets often have M6 square holes for mounting servers.

7. Moisture, dust, shock, vibration

When housing electronic components outside of a protected data centre, look for a cabinet with an IP rating. IP standards are designed for corrosion resistance, protection from rain, submersion, liquids, dust, falling objects, and other hazards. Cabinets and racks can also be bolted to the floor for extra stability.

8. Power provisioning

There are multiple options for powering rackmounted equipment. Power strips can be mounted vertically or horizontally. Power Distribution Units (PDUs) and Power Managers have additional capabilities such as remote management and metering. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) typically mount in the bottom of a cabinet or rack because of their weight.

9. Cable management

Most cabinets and racks have built-in cable management troughs and cable rings for routing cable. For a complete overview of our cable management solutions, visit our online store.

10. The extras

The type of shelving you choose depends on the equipment you plan to mount. There are multiple options: solid, vented, stationary, and pull-out shelves. And there are shelves built to hold specific pieces of equipment, such as servers or keyboards. Other extras include fans, waterfall brackets, and grounding bars.

For more information on our cabinets and racks, visit our online store, or contact our free Tech Support.

6 Reasons to switch to digital KVM

Analog technology can’t keep up in the digital marketplace. Digital video is sharper and digital KVM is faster. Don’t get left behind in the digital revolution.

1. The VGA standard is being discontinued.
The VGA standard will not be supported going into 2015. Analog KVM and video won’t work any longer either. VGA sources and displays are getting increasingly difficult to find. We recently heard from a client who had to buy VGA parts on eBay.

2. Digital technology is distinctly better.
Digital technology improves users’ experiences by providing crystal-clear images at any supported distance. HD video is delivered pixel by pixel to digital displays at higher resolutions and increased color depth.

3. Digital systems are bigger and better.Broadcast Booth
New larger matrices and IP-based systems increase flexibility and enable connecting to a much higher number of endpoints. Thousands of devices can be incorporated into one unified system. On a digital matrix system, I/O ports are interchangeable, making changes and adds as simple as plugging a device into a port.

4. HD video switching is faster than it’s ever been.
Digital systems provide instantaneous HD video switching with no delay. Digital KVM switching is much faster, too, nearly instant rather than having to wait several seconds for video to show up.

5. Digital KVM improves the user experience.
Digital KVM systems feature improved USB support and compatibility with most other USB devices on the market: touchscreens, flash drives, tablet computers, as well as the workhorses, keyboards and mice.

6. Higher resolutions mean better images.
Increased bandwidth gives users the capability to work with images at higher detail levels as well as fit more content on the desktop for a more efficient workflow. Future-proof systems accommodate support for WQXGA (2560 x 1600) and 4K/UHD (3840 x 2160). Wherever users need pixel-perfect image transmission, they can now get it, via CATx or fiber cabling. Plus, send USB, serial, and digital audio signals.

Black Box Digital KVM Switch chosen Best of Show at InfoComm 2015

AV Technology named the DCX3000 Matrix Digital KVM Switch from Black Box a Best of Show Winner at InfoComm 2015. This innovative product was demonstrated at the show, which took place in Orlando, FL, June 17–19.

Small size and big performance set the DCX3000 apart from otherBlack-Box-InfoComm-2015-Booth digital matrix switches in its class. Created for smaller organizations that need to upgrade to digital KVM signal switching and extension, the DCX3000 reaches 30 endpoints over CATx cable. Go up to 10 m from the workstation to the KVM switch and up to 50 m from the switch to the CPU.

The DCX3000 Matrix Digital KVM Switch features zero latency and zero compression of the signal transmission. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is simplified for ease of use. In fact, according to the judges at AV Technology, this was an award-winning feature. “The unique thumbnail preview provides a simplified graphical user interface, making it easier to view multiple screens than text-based, on-screen menus,” according to one of the judges.

Digital KVM matrix switching gives multiple users access to the same systems in real time for monitoring and controlling processes. Learn more about migrating to digital KVM.

View the full list of winners of the AV Technology Best of Show Awards. AVT bases awards in part on the ability to see and test the products it selects on the trade show floor. The decision to award a product a Best of Show designation is also based on a combination of the following criteria: perceived value, ROI and TCO, richness of the feature set, ease-of-use, reliability, versatility, and overall network impact. According the AV Technology, “The Best of Show Awards support our objective of meeting the needs of the tech manager community by spotlighting products that genuinely solve problems, offer value, and consider the operator’s PoV.”

View Black Box’s Garrett Swindell giving a brief demonstration of the GUI of the DCX3000 in the video link below. AV Technology is able to talk to product managers and team members, such as Garrett, that help develop and test products.

Additional resources
More about the solution: DCX3000 explained in details
Video: DCX3000 setup and applications

 

Updating the Company that Updates the Home

As the world’s largest appliance maker, Whirlpool Corporation knows a thing or two about innovations. But the company recently looked at its factories’ mixed networking devices and realised that their backend infrastructure needed some innovating too. An unstable wireless network set-up was costing the company money, was difficult to troubleshoot and simply could not keep up with new technologies.

Whirlpool turned to Cisco and the appliance company’s service provider, Black Box Network Services, to come up with a plan to update their network architecture.

Beginning with five pilot sites—including one of Whirlpool’s largest plants—Cisco employed designs to modernise the network. The products included in the plans were:

  • Cisco Catalyst 3750X switch
  • Cisco Catalyst 2960X Series switches
  • Cisco FlexStack and StackWise cabling
  • Cisco Aironet 3600 Series Access Point with Cisco CleanAir technology
  • Cisco 5500 Series wireless controller

Additionally, network traffic was collected and analysed by Cisco IOS Netflow, while Cisco Prime centrally managed the entire network.

Operations at the five test plants have soared as information now moves faster than ever. Networks are better equipped for video, which is speeding up innovation design and time to market. Issues can be dealt with quickly, before business can be impacted.

Whirlpool workers have been happy with the changes.

“Some engineers say they never realised how bad the old network was,” said Whirlpool program manager Greg Fisbeck. “Jobs that used to take a half an hour now take just a few minutes.”

Whirlpool was so pleased with the initiative in the five pilot plants that it will be upgrading their remaining 80 plants worldwide at a clip of 20 locations a year.

To learn more about the Whirlpool Corporation solution, please visit the case study page.

8 Critical features next-generation KVM switching and extension systems should offer

Here’s a checklist to use as you shop for a future-proof, high-performance digital KVM switch or switching and extension systems. It’s easy to remember as FAR-PARSS.

Flexibility
Any enterprise-wide KVM system should be flexible enough to input and output many types of video and peripherals, especially if you are in broadcast or command and control. Video signals such as DVI, HDMI, and VGA should be supported with resolutions ranging from 1080p to 4K. Other signal types to look for are audio, USB 1.1 or 2.0 for peripherals like keyboards and mice, and serial signals for industrial applications.

A flexible system should also be scalable for future growth. Calculate the total number of video sources and displays you have, and try to plan for growth. The KVM switches need to support current and future users with enough ports so that users do not have to create silos of servers and users. Look for a KVM system that can replace a video-only router with a high-performance digital KVM matrix switching system. A management controller enables central administration of the system. Does the management controller use a graphical user interface, or a text-based OSD?

Accuracy
When a KVM system can support video resolutions of 1920 x 1080 at 60 Hz or 3840 x 2160 at 60 Hz, test to make sure video does not lag or drop frames with rapidly changing content. Not all analog KVM systems or IP-based systems are up to the task, although most digital systems, including digital IP-based systems, can support fast, high-definition video.

Responsiveness
Test keyboard and mouse setup to make sure there is no latency. A true USB emulation KVM switch is responsive and consistent; an unresponsive K/M jars the operator out of his/her workflow.

Productivity
Optimally, a high-performance digital KVM system improves users’ productivity. In a matrix setting, all resources and displays can be connected and switched between by multiple users. Collaboration is enhanced by the ability to view and control the same resources simultaneously.

Accessibility
Calculate the longest distance between your endpoints, and make sure the KVM system can work over CATx or fiber cabling – or a mix of both – to reach all your targets. With digital matrix KVM systems, multiple users should have real-time access to targets.

Reliability
New generation KVM systems will support redundancy options such as multiple power supply units for 24/7 uptime. Be sure to eliminate single points of failure. Make sure the system you select can support routing transmitters and receivers through two separate core KVM switches for full redundancy.

Speed
Many digital KVM switching systems support video-switching speeds of under a half second. Anything longer interrupts an operator’s workflow as he or she switches between resources and may be noticeable to a viewer. Does your KVM solution support custom keyboard shortcuts (also called hotkey shortcuts) that can be set for switching a local display as well as remote displays, such as other user terminals for collaboration or a video wall?

Security
Lastly, KVM switching and extension systems need to be secure. Be sure administrators can assign specific access rights to specific resources. Remote configuration and maintenance of the KVM system enables an admin to securely log onto a system.

When you can mark off all eight of these categories, you’ll have maximized your ROI.

View our webinar about how digital KVM benefits the broadcasting industry.

Cable Basics: Fiber Optic Cable Construction

Fiber optic cable provides one of the most effective means today for safe, and long-distance communications, and it offers a number of advantages over copper. Fiber optic cable construction consists of a core, cladding, coating, strengthening fibers, and a cable jacket.

Fiber optic cable constructionCore
This is the physical medium that transports optical data signals from an attached light source to a receiving device. The core is a single continuous strand of extruded silica glass or plastic that’s measured in microns (µm) by the size of its outer diameter. The larger the core, the more light the cable can carry.

All fiber optic cable is sized according to its core’s outer diameter. The two most common multimode sizes are 50 and 62.5 microns. Single-mode cores are 8.5–9 microns.

The cores of OM1 and OM2 multimode cable are made differently than the cores of laser-optimized OM3 and OM4 cable. OM1 and OM2 have a small defect in the core called an index depression. This enables them to be used with LED light sources. OM3 and OM4 are manufactured without the center defect to enable them to be used directly with VCSELS for greater speeds and distance.

Cladding
This is the thin layer that surrounds the fiber core and serves as a boundary that contains the light waves and causes the refraction, enabling light to travel the length of the fiber segment. Typical fiber cladding is 125 microns.

Coating
This is a layer of plastic that surrounds the core and cladding to reinforce and protect the fiber core. Coatings are measured in microns and can range from 250 to 900 microns.

Strengthening fibers
These components help protect the core against crushing forces and excessive tension during installation. The materials can range from aramid yarn (Kevlar®) to wire strands to gel-filled sleeves.

Cable jacket
Just like copper cable, fiber cable comes with PVC and Low Smoke Zero Halogen jackets. Whether you choose PVC- or Low Smoke Zero Halogen cable depends on where you are going to use the cable. PVC cable is typically used for patch connections in the data center, wiring closet, and at the desktop. Low Smoke Zero Halogen cable is used when you need to route a cable through the buildings air plenum. Low Smoke Zero Halogen cable has a flame-resistant jacket to inhibit the spread of fire.

Fiber cable and connector colors
To easily recognize what type of fiber cable you have in the data center, the cable jackets, connectors, and connector bodies are color-coded.

OM1 62.5-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Orange
Connector: Beige
Connector Body: Beige

OM2 50-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Orange
Connector: Black
Connector Body: Black

OM3 Laser-Optimized 50-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Aqua
Connector: Aqua
Connector Body: Black

OM4 Laser-Optimized 50-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Aqua/Violet
Connector: Black
Connector Body: Aqua/Violet

OS2 8.5-Micron Single-Mode Fiber
Jacket: Yellow
Connector: APC: Green, MPO: Black; UPC: Blue
Connector Body: APC: Green; UPC: Blue

Additional Resources:
White Paper: Fiber Optic Technology
Blog post: 8 advantages to choosing fiber over copper cable
Webinar: High-Density Fiber Connectivity for Data Centers

Myths of Managed Services

Studies Find that Managed Services Help Drive IT Success

Get the Facts

The myths that surround the use of Managed Services (MS) to support IT business continuity oftentimes are fueled by misconception. As these services are adopted by more companies, the advantages become clear. Companies are:

  • Minimising the cost of legacy IT infrastructure from multiple vendors
  • Promoting the adoption of new and sophisticated technology for business continuity, and
  • Allocating limited resources to maximising overall impact on the organization

Consider this:

  • 74% of enterprises anticipate increased demand on IT
  • 30% of IT budget has become strategic; operational expense is reduced by 13%
  • 48% of companies are expanding adoption of MS
  • Companies who use MS see a reduction of 25% in IT costs

6 Myths of working with a Managed Service Provider

IT business leaders know that demand on their current IT systems, and the need for additional capacity and functionality, will continue to increase. By outsourcing IT responsibilities, IT business leaders can shift their focus from daily task management to driving strategic thought leadership.

In fact, studies show that world-class companies commit 30 percent more of their IT budgets to advancing business processes—and nearly 13 percent less on day-to-day operations—than their less successful counterparts. These companies seek a Managed Service partner to support both IT infrastructure and platform and application needs, and to mitigate challenges associated with:

  • Staffing: 42% of CIOs are concerned they are missing IT expertise
  • Technology adoption: 51% of CIOs are concerned about enterprise adoption of new technology
  • CAPEX versus OPEX business models: 50% of OPEX budget is lost to failed IT projects

Are Managed Services Right for You?

Think about the following questions:

  • What are your biggest challenges—staffing, infrastructure, applications, platforms, devices, security?
  • What percentage of time is spent on day-to-day tasks?
  • Are you evaluating different deployment scenarios, such as leveraging OPEX or the Cloud?
  • Do you feel you have the expertise and staff to design, deploy, and support enterprise technology?
  • Have you considered third-party resources or partners to supplement your existing team or to manage specific components of your IT infrastructure?
  • Are you contributing to the enterprise in a strategic way, or are time-consuming tasks detracting you from moving the organisation forward?

A Managed Services partner offers the solutions you need to address these questions by providing objectivity, an expanded resource pool of expertise, and cost-effective strategies that align with overall corporate needs. IT services are available in varying degrees. Some companies seek support with one specific IT challenge, such as on-site maintenance; others outsource all IT functions, known as IT as a Service.

Separate fact from fiction. Download: 6 Myths of Working with a Managed Service Provider or visit us at: www.black-box.eu/services/managed-services