Upgrading LANs the smart way


Arafat Yousef, Managing Director – Middle East & Africa, Nexans Data Network Solutions discusses how  to go about ensuring your LAN is future ready while retaining flexibility – and managing TCO

Previously separate systems and platforms are increasingly converging, and at the same time bandwidth requirements are growing fast, driven by cloud applications, IoT, Wi-Fi 6 and more. This calls for future-ready LANs, capable of supporting several generations of technology. However, upgrading a LAN can be challenging for a variety of reasons. The network impacts a wide range of users and the overall company IT infrastructure, while supporting many different functions – from VOIP and Cloud applications to wireless access and security. Scope for downtime is limited. What do you need to bear in mind when (re-) designing or expanding an enterprise or facility network? How might FTTO help solve some of the issues?

Providing power, bandwidth and flexibility while, reducing cost
There are several technology-related challenges to take into account, related to fast-growing bandwidth required for new applications, powering large numbers of distributed devices, and network flexibility, largely driven by convergence of previously disparate systems. Furthermore, upgrading office IT infrastructure also brings quite a few physical and logistical challenges – architectural limitations, for example in listed buildings, or the changing functions of departments or entire buildings.

As WiFi6 makes more advanced applications possible, the LAN needs to provide ubiquitous capacity, with plenty of bandwidth reserves, to the Wireless Access Point. After all, as more devices share wireless bandwidth it becomes increasingly diluted, possibly even to the point of becoming unusable.

With the fast increase of connected LED lighting, sensor technology, and IP-equipped devices, Power over Ethernet is becoming a necessity. Providing current over Ethernet cabling allows devices to be installed and moved around without having to worry whether there’s an electrical outlet close by.Power delivered through new generations of PoE is more than six times the level of the initial PoE standard. Without the right cable design, this may significantly increase heat build-up inside cable bundles. Often, a building will impose limitations to where cable can run. Older buildings may have protected status, and often spaces are simply too confined, or have cramped conduits and cable racks twisting at sharp angles. With fibre cables, the required bending can present significant problems.

As the functions of spaces in a building change over the years, it is vital that extensive rebuilding isn’t required each time, and data transmission and power capacity can simply be re-routed. The number of people in a building may increase or decrease and new applications may be introduced over time. From a technical perspective, that means you’ll need to ensure you can deliver enough bandwidth for even the most demanding requirements, as well as a growing number of mobile devices. Labour costs can also add up, especially when cabling has to be spliced on site, additional power outlets need to be introduced, or technical rooms have to be created.

Consider Fibre To The Office
A Fibre To The Office (FTTO) solution can help with the challenges described, avoiding the need to provide power outlets for individual devices, while ensuring vast bandwidth reserves as well as flexibility and providing the ability to scale up easily and cost-effectively. Fibre is laid up from the central switch to a connection point in the office or workplace. Here, a dedicated Ethernet switch ensures intelligent media conversion from copper to fibre. Gigabit speeds can be realised while at the same time PoE is supported. Copper cables supporting PoE over standard RJ45 interfaces allow a single network cable to be used to provide data connection as well as electric power. Whenever building layout changes, devices can simply be re-patched or added. They are immediately powered up and connected to the network. No floor distributor is required, which saves a considerable amount of space per floor. Thick cable bundles are avoided, thanks to the use of pre-terminated fibre, optimised for fast and easy installation. Heat buildup and flammability are also avoided in this way, as well as by smart cable design.

Of course, as networks increase in size, or configurations change, keeping track of network configuration becomes increasingly difficult and every new connection is a potential point of failure. Cost and time investments are also reduced by automated monitoring, control and asset management and high bandwidth reserves and redundancy. Total Cost of Ownership can be optimised, while growth and energy consumption are balanced. There’s no one-size-fits all solution, as the challenges and potential benefits in each location are different, but our experts are always happy to discuss your specific situation and any requirements you may have!

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