Making the cut

R&M’s Shibu Vahid examines the benefits of pre-terminating cables when setting up networks

The explosion of ‘big data’ and the seemingly limitless demand for bandwidth are driving trends in today’s IT-centric world. The ‘faster, better, most cost effective’ mentality has led enterprises of all sizes to closely scrutinize their communications networks and networking infrastructure.

The need to deploy high speed network backbones that meet present and future requirements while simultaneously reducing costs present conflicting interests. With the need for higher bandwidth and flexibility for growth organizations are looking at the network’s physical layer and its overall life cycle as a capital investment that is essential to the business.

Throw into this conundrum the increasing focus on sustainability and the task of designing a network high-performance high-efficiency network seems almost insurmountable.

Addressing efficiency at a physical infrastructure level has fuelled the growing adoption of pre-terminated structured cabling systems. Available for both copper and fibre-optic systems, pre-termination is carried out at the factory and eliminates the need for on-site field termination.

These solutions simplify the design and installation of network services by providing high-density, end-to-end systems that deliver quick, plug-in network deployment. Designed to speed up installation and reduce material wastage, pre-terminated cabling is the ideal solution for quickly deploying mission-critical network infrastructure.

Problems with On-site termination

In a traditional cabling installation project, cables are cut to appropriate length and then terminated on location. This is both time consuming and requires that cable-installers have a significant amount of skill and experience. Furthermore, given the exposure to uncontrolled environmental condition such as temperature extremes and airborne particulates, the quality of the connectors can be adversely affected.

Then there is the project management aspect as well. The construction of a typical data-centre would involve collaboration between a number of subcontractor handling different aspects such as electrical, cooling, layout, HVAC and others.

Coordinating such an effort is a challenge in itself and any solution which can help reduce installation time so as to free up schedules and reduce man-power would greatly reduce the implementation costs.

Benefits of Pre-termination

Pre-terminated cable systems on the other hand require a concentrated effort at the planning stage. Once the requirements have been identified, the implementation process is greatly simplified. The modularity of pre-terminated cabling solutions in the data centre enables fast installation times and swift upgrades, which together reduce the total cost of network ownership.

The plug-and-play nature of these systems means that installation does not require skilled specialists. Rapid modifications are also possible as these systems lend themselves perfectly to moves and changes.

The quality of pre-terminated cabling systems is also advantageous given that typical cabling systems are installed to last anywhere between 20 to 25 years. Precision factory termination processes for both fibre and copper take place in a clean environment, offering advantages over the variability that can result from connector termination in uncontrolled ?eld conditions. These components are factory tested by the cabling vendors and deliver consistent reliable performance.

Also, the high-density design of these solutions conserves valuable data centre real estate. The high-density is also advantageous as cabling has a certain effect on air circulation in data centres and thus on the energy consumption of the overall systems. Bunching of unnecessarily long cables blocks the flow of air. Eliminating such bunching opens up potential optimization and contributes lastingly to the energy efficiency of data centres.

Because flexibility, speed and modularity are now the norms for IT deployments, IT must be highly adaptable to meet rapidly changing business needs.

While pre-terminated cabling solutions present a larger investment upfront, the advantages they offer in terms of reduced installation time, labour costs, reduced material wastage, space and energy savings and life-cycle translate to a significantly lower total cost of ownership.

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