Is an investment in Structured Cabling right for your business?
Your office's voice and data cabling system is the backbone of your business. It connects all aspects of your company's technology, from phone to computer networks to machinery. Without a properly functioning network, it can be difficult for employees to collaborate on projects or complete their tasks efficiently. A structured cabling solution provides your business with the cabling infrastructure, support, and technology to help manage networked resources efficiently.
This blog will discuss the basics and the benefits of connecting your business with a structured cabling solution.
What is structured cabling?
Structured cabling refers to the wiring infrastructure in a business environment and is a system of organizing network cables. The primary purpose is to have all networking cables for an organization in one place to be easily accessed and replaced when necessary.
While not necessary, cables are often labeled and color-coded for the type of data that they carry, making troubleshooting and interconnection changes easier to accomplish. It also makes for bragging rights to have beautifully organized, color-coded cabling running throughout your building.
What are the 6 components of a Structured Cabling solution?
A structured cabling solution is comprised of six key components or subsystems:
1. Entrance Facilities (EF)
The term Entrance Facilities refers to the point at which outside connections (fiber optics, broadband, T1, etc.) enter the building and connect to your internal network cabling. This space contains the network demarcation points, cables, connecting hardware, protection devices, and other network appliances that need to connect to your private network cabling or access provider (AP) or private network cabling.
2. Equipment Room (ER)
The Equipment Room is typically an environmentally-controlled space that houses critical telecommunications equipment like servers and switches. It is more sophisticated and complex than a Telecommunications Room (see below).
3. Backbone Cabling
Backbone Cabling, sometimes referred to as Horizontal Cabling, connects different areas of your building to your network infrastructure. It can connect locations on a single floor, between floors, or even separate buildings within a campus. Any number of cable types can be a part of backbone cabling from ethernet to fiber to twisted-pair. Cable run length is limited to 90 meters plus up to 10 meters for patch cables for a maximum of 100 meters.
4. Telecommunications Room (TR) or Telecommunications Enclosure (TE)
Telecommunications Rooms and Telecommunications Enclosures are environmentally controlled spaces that house the termination points of horizontal and backbone cables to your connecting hardware and telecommunication equipment. A TR or TE also includes patch cables, jumpers, splice closures, and connecting hardware.
Telecommunications rooms are typically located on each floor of a multi-floor facility. Telecommunications Enclosures refer to a distribution point that serves a specific area within a building, and a large building may have more than one TE per floor.
5. Horizontal Cabling
The Horizontal Cabling component connects backbone cabling in Telecommunication Rooms or Enclosures to endpoint devices in Work Areas. This cabling is typically run below floors or overhead, above ceilings, or in "cable trays" (a rack system specifically designed to hold network cabling). The tray design provides the lowest installation cost and is the easiest to access for maintenance, upgrades, or troubleshooting.
Horizontal cabling provides facilities with clean, uncluttered network wiring and helps with air-flow for network devices located in equipment cabinets by eliminating unnecessary cable masses.
6. Work Area (WA)
The final component in a Structured Cable system are Work Areas. Work areas are the locations where endpoint devices are used. A WA could be an office, a conference room, a shipping/receiving dock, or any other location that houses a device or devices that need to connect to your network infrastructure.
Why is structured cabling important?
Structured cabling systems differ from traditional point-to-point cabling systems in how they help eliminate disorganized masses of wiring common in a typical business environment. The following highlights some of the benefits:
Some additional benefits of a Structured Cabling system are:
Cost-Effectiveness – Structured cabling can save your business money by reducing installation costs, maintenance requirements, and energy resources.
Reduced Downtime – Structured cabling systems reduce the chance of human error in managing network connections that can lead to downtime and business disruption. Structured cabling provides highly organized cable mapping with easily identifiable connectors.
Operational Efficiency – Structured cabling provides even a small IT staff with a simple and elegant cable organization environment that makes moves, adds, and changes (MAC) quick and easy. Both installation and maintenance time is significantly reduced in a structured cable environment.
Improved Performance - A structured cabling solution can provide enhanced network performance and speed by strategically maintaining the best-suited cabling and shortest cable runs for each device on your network.
Scalability - A structured cabling system will make growing your business exponentially easier. Adding new users, devices, or technologies will require much less time than a traditional point-to-point system, getting you up and running quickly with minimal disruption to your business.
When should you consider using a structured cabling solution?
There are many situations when businesses need to seek out these types of services. If your company is in the process of relocating, it's a perfect time to consider investing in structured cabling so everything can be set up and ready to go in your new location prior to move-in.
Additionally, if there has been an increase in your company's technology or if you've simply outgrown the cabling infrastructure of your current space, a structured cabling solution can give your business what it needs to continue operating smoothly and grow efficiently.
Who should be involved with choosing and implementing a structured cabling solution?
Since networking plays such a critical role for businesses today, key stakeholders must be involved in and implementing a structured cabling solution. This ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding their technological needs and helps to make sure that all business technology needs are considered. Large enterprises typically have in-house resources that can drive the process. Small businesses should consider working with a network consultant who can assess your needs and provide advice throughout this process.
What is the process of choosing a structured cabling solution?
When choosing this service for your business, the first step to take is to research different providers in your area. Make sure they offer reliable voice and data solutions so you can be confident that everything will work properly from day one. You'll want to work with a technology provider that has experience working with businesses similar to yours.
You should also make sure they offer comprehensive support and warranties. If you don't find a company that fits all of these criteria, it may be best to keep looking until you're satisfied that you will receive the services your business needs.
It's also a good idea to check online reviews and ask for references from prospective technology partners.
Once you've decided on a provider for voice and data structured cabling solutions in your area, some things need to occur before installation can begin.
- It's essential to have a clear understanding of your company's cabling needs so the right equipment is purchased for implementation. This requires an in-depth discussion with all involved parties about their technology goals and expectations from this solution.
- You'll need to decide on an optimal location for your network equipment if it is not already in place.
- Plan ahead for any downtime or disruption to business that might result during the installation of a structured cabling solution.
As technology continues to advance, it's critical for companies to have a reliable voice and data structured cabling solution in place. If your business is behind the times when it comes to networking, you're likely going to face challenges that other companies who are ahead of the curve don't have to worry about. This includes the lack of connectivity that many employees are accustomed to today.
A structured cabling solution from Matrix-NDI will provide your business with an organized and efficient cabling infrastructure that will help to improve network performance, enhance operational efficiencies, and reduce downtime for maintenance, MACs, and upgrades.
In this blog, we've covered some of the more common questions that arise when considering an investment in a structured cabling solution for your company. If you have any other questions, please call us or send an email, and we'll be happy to help you get started!
Give us a call today at 763.475.5500 or email us at ContactUs@Matrix-NDI.com to learn more about how affordable and easy securing your business data can be. We've got a full suite of solutions that will keep your business secure from the inside out!