In this edition of Voices of the Industry, David Knapp, Product Marketing Manager at Chatsworth Products, explores what to consider as new network standards create network upgrade requirements.
The demand for higher data rates, more bandwidth and higher densities—events that re-accelerating the use of fiber optic cable in telecommunications environments—are driving upgrades to enterprise networking technologies. Network engineers are now being challenged with upgrading the physical infrastructure to ensure availability, flexibility and speed while remaining compliant to standards.
Upgrades to Power over Ethernet (PoE), advanced Wi-Fi, software-defined networking (SDN) and the soon-to-be-released 5G will challenge existing infrastructure and IT equipment.
The good news: New methodologies and products enable easy and compliant deployment of these new technologies. More specifically, advancements in cable management and pathway with improved design elements can truly simplify the job of contractors, installers and network engineers.
Here are the basics of some of the upcoming changes:
802.3bt: Enhanced Power over Ethernet (PoE++)
Power over Ethernet (PoE) was introduced in 2003, defining how to deliver power over the network connection to end devices, eliminating the need for a separate power connection. Currently deployed IEEE 802.3-compliant PoE delivers up to 25.5 Watts of power to equipment, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) desk phones, wireless access points (WAPs), basic security cameras and more.
In order to be future-ready and eliminate downtime, start by reassessing your physical infrastructure.
The soon-to-be-released PoE amendment, IEEE 802.3bt-2018, proposes two additional types, or power ranges, for 60 Watts and up to 100 Watts per connection, thus extending the possibilities to power other end devices such as high bandwidth WAPs, pan-tilt-zoom security cameras, access control systems and sensors for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Delivering POE++ will require an upgrade to network switches or power injectors and will require some cables to be placed in smaller cable bundles with more spacing between bundles to allow airflow around cables, to prevent overheating.
Advanced Wi-Fi—High Throughput Wireless Networking
Wireless networking throughput, or data transfer rate, has increased significantly in the past decade and will continue to increase with the upcoming IEEE 802.11ax amendment to the IEEE 802.11 standard, which is expected to be published in 2019.
The network standards amendment improves high efficiency wireless local area networks (WLANs) for dense environments, by allowing WAPs to support even more devices and provide even faster connections in anticipation of 4K/8K UHD video streaming, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and rapid proliferation of connected IoT devices.
However, IEEE 802.11ax WAPs will likely require a 10 Gbps network connection and more than 30 Watts of power, so will be best supported on Category 6A or higher cabling, which may mean upgrades to your network.
SD-WAN: Software-defined networking
Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a software overlay that allows dynamic path selection for load sharing across various WAN connections. The advantage of SD-WAN is particularly clear with a large network supporting many branch locations. SD-WAN eliminates the need for separate hardware appliances for each network function at each branch.
The impact to the physical network is a reduction of the amount of physical hardware used to create and connect the WAN, as the image below shows.
5G Cellular Wireless
The next generation of cellular wireless, 5G, will deliver mobile broadband access download speeds in excess of 1 Gigabits per second (Gbps) with 10 millisecond latency. Because this will allow devices to respond faster, 5G will greatly open new opportunities for IoT devices and technologies, including artificial intelligence, autonomous cars, mapping apps, weather and people tracking devices, machine-to-machine learning and more.
5G delivers considerably faster network speeds, but it uses very high bandwidth signals to do so. 5G signals propagate through glass, but quickly deteriorate against foliage and other building materials. Consequently, 5G requires a denser network of small cells to support the promised high speeds and low latency. This includes the need to upgrade existing DAS systems or to deploy new small cells to provide reliable signals indoors.
Advancements in methodologies and products
As mentioned, the infrastructure supporting these new technologies—cable runway and cable management—should enable simple and compliant deployment, as well as feature user-friendly designs.
There are several advancements in cable runway and cable management to address these concerns. Some of the noteworthy innovations are as follows:
Movable cross members for cable runways
Cable runway, or ladder rack, is now available with movable cross members. This expedites cable drops, as users can adjust the position of a cross member if it interferes with the transition of cables between the vertical manager and overhead pathway, as this video demonstrates.
Users can place radius drops exactly where they need to be in order to path cable into the vertical manager. To simplify the spacing of cables in pathways to meet POE++ requirements, tool-less pathway dividers allow users to maintain space between cable bundles within the pathway.
A novel approach to cable management
Proper cable management helps maintain reliable network connections and helps technicians trace and update connections quickly.
The development of networking technologies adds complexity to the current “cookie-cutter” approach to cable management—products are often difficult to use or lack manuals that are easy to understand.
Cable management solutions have evolved from a simple trough to hold cable bundles to a mechanical system that adjusts to optimize cable support. Vertical cable managers now include internal supports to space cable bundles, improve airflow around cables for higher power PoE applications and improve troubleshooting by neatly organizing each bundle, as shown in the image.
These supports feature tool-less installation and adjustment capabilities, helping IT systems professionals perform multiple tasks effectively, particularly moves, adds and changes.
With global IP traffic projected to triple over the next three years, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, networking technologies will need to evolve to keep with densification rates.
In order to be future-ready and eliminate downtime, start by reassessing your physical infrastructure—structured cabling and cable management practices—as part of the process.
For more details on how these new technologies and network standards might impact your physical infrastructure, read the white paper, “Four Technologies that Will Affect Your Enterprise Network: And How to Support Them in Your Premise Networks.”
David Knapp is Product Marketing Manager at Chatsworth Products.