Let's face it. We've all been guilty at one time or another of ignoring the cabling backbone or infrastructure. But now, thanks to convergence and integration, that mindset is shifting.
With everything running on the network, the cabling infrastructure specification decision (as well as power) is more important than ever, because it's this backbone that will prepare the end user and their facility for the future. For the systems integrator who can present the proper solution the end result will be a satisfied customer they can return to with confidence for years to come.
A critical but overlooked aspect of integrated systems is the cabling infrastructure, according to Anixter, Glenview, Ill. In fact the cabling infrastructure is only two percent of the cost of a network while it can cause up to 50 percent of the network problems. Anixter recently announced its ipAssured infrastructure cabling program (see November SD&I), to assist and simplify infrastructure planning. It provides specific and detailed cabling recommendations to support current and future security applications, including video (analog and networked Ethernet/IP); access control; power over Ethernet; industrial automation; and intelligent building systems. Based on technology life cycles of one to five years; five to 10; and 10-plus years, the program exceeds IEEE/TIA performance recommendations.
"The program is designed to help systems integrators and value-added resellers build the correct infrastructure for the end user," said Andy Jimenez, vice president of Technology, Enterprise Cabling Solutions for Anixter. "This allows them to have a more long-term vision of the cabling infrastructure, one that will be able to last a couple generations," he said. "You have to remember that the cabling infrastructure is extremely difficult to replace in existing buildings," he said, "so proper planning today is vital."
Communications Supply Corporation (CSC), Carol Stream, Ill., distributes a full range of network cabling and security infrastructure solutions and services. Recently CSC launched the next logical step to all this convergence in the market-the Faster Than Light (FTL) Server and Storage Solution. Integrators are able to sign-on to the FTL Portal (www.ftlportal.com), answer a few questions about the installation they need to complete and the online system provides a complete bill of materials for an end-to-end IP surveillance system that includes the server, storage, PoE switch, patch panel, UPS, patch cables, cabinet, a slide-away monitor/keyboard/mouse and is preloaded with software ready to go. The FTL Portal is able to provide these bundled surveillance systems by using the Surveillance Performance Index(tm) (SPI), which assesses and analyzes the entire chain of surveillance technology, including the cabling infrastructure, to ensure a surveillance system is 100 percent optimized before anything is even purchased.
"We believe that having the right cabling infrastructure in place is a critical component to consider when you're designing a surveillance system that meets the expectations of the end-user," said Adam Greenblatt, director of Strategic Marketing for CSC. "However, this is only one part of the equation. To truly guarantee optimal performance, you need to look at all system components holistically and consider the fact that each IP surveillance installation is unique. By leveraging the power of the FTL Portal, integrators can create pre-optimized solutions that bundle together everything they need to get the job done - from server, to cable, to camera. Using this new online service takes the guesswork out of designing an IP surveillance system," he said.
Bundling is big: suppliers want to package solutions based on each individual application and are doing just that, taking some of the headache out of the process. Other providers offer direct support as well as white papers, specifications and related materials. Companies like CommScope, NVT, Superior Essex, ADI, ScanSource, Tri-Ed, Ingram Micro and many others are assisting in this area with practical information to get the word out. Organizations such as BICSI are stepping up big to assist with professional installation training and certifications.