One essential piece of any business and government organizations is the computer network. The complexity, specifications and capacity of the network will vary depending on the size and needs of each particular organization, but they have become fully integral to the daily operations of many organizations. We would be hard pressed to find even one functioning operation without a connected set of computing devices.
While computer networks have become vital, there are still many organizations that have no overall coordination regarding current or future upgrades, replacement or modification, much less a plan for expansion into new facilities. In general, a cabling plan includes the consideration of all components involved in determining requirements, installing, connecting, and optimizing components according to IEEE standards selected for a network.
Every project is different due to variations in the characteristics of the facility, the availability of different cable and connection types, the purpose of the installation, the types of devices connected by the cabling- now and in the near future, equipment currently installed, customer requirements, and equipment warranties and service availability.
Standards arising from oversight groups such as ANSI, IEEE and TIA/EIA are necessary to maintain adequate performance and serviceability in increasingly complicated installations. If there were no such baselines, costs and complexity would also go up with the proliferation of incompatible components that may or may not be available over time.
These standards provide for the consistent and predictable implementation of design and installation; conformity to generally accepted physical and transmission line requirements; a basis for assessing a proposed system changes; and uniformly defined documentation.
For many people, there is a lack of understanding regarding the overlapping layers of cabling planning. There are many aspects that go unnoticed because the wires and related equipment is behind the scenes. Even the most elegant of cabling layouts remains unseen in ceilings, underneath floors, in closets, in designated rooms, and inside walls.
A Computer Network Plan Includes…
The cables themselves must obviously be the correct type to interface with specific network device components, travel the distances needed, carry the desired bandwidth and many other factors affecting their ability to provide the most efficient operation for the purpose and goals of a particular network.
In its basic form, every computer network plan contains the same primary needs regardless of its size. The typical computer network plan makes recommendations concerning the following:
This is where communication moves into and out of the building. It involves all the cables, hardware, circuit breakers, and conduit enabling data to flow into and out of the facility’s intranet. Depending on what’s existing, this transition could be underground or aerial.
Vertical and horizontal pathways and backbones
Like arteries and veins in a circulatory system, from the entrance facility the cables branch out to floors and other buildings. Backbone is used to identify the larger-capacity cables that carry the major traffic. Examples of what backbones need to work are:
- Cable routes including conduits, floor and wall penetrations-, shafts and raceways
- The cables themselves: optical fiber or copper coax / twisted pair, or some combination of the many varieties of each type.
- Connecting hardware such as blocks, patch panels, plugs and jacks
- Supporting mechanics like cable hangers, fireproofing, circuit and grounding protection, cable ties.
- Workstation connection points
- often referred to as patch cabling, these emanate from a wall jack to an individual device, or from a wired connection to a wireless router.
Equipment rooms or telecommunications closets
A climate controlled small room which houses the equipment needed for collecting, storing and passing on data signals from all networked computers to each other and the outside world. A peek inside reveals racks of small servers, routers, hubs and switches fed by bundles of brightly color-coded plugged in cables.
Any cabling that transfers your in-house data and shares it outside your own network. One example is the wiring that forms a high-bandwidth link between your computers and your internet provider.
Computer Network Plan Considerations
There are many specialized components to consider in developing a computer network, not the least of which is understanding the true costs and benefits of certain components as applied in your context. While some may focus on the computers, printers, and other devices that are tangibly accessed by users, the components of the network such as the cabling and network devices are the real actors that make the computer network run. Just keeping up with the latest IEEE standards for newly developed equipment can be daunting!
If the cabling or network components are unwisely chosen, incorrectly installed, or poorly connected, a computer network will not operate up to its specified performance levels. All components of a network must work in unison for a computer network to operate successfully, and that can be a difficult proposition for most IT professionals who major in keeping the servers and individual devices in good working order.
A high quality, experience-based computer network plan is important. The plan gives everyone involved the opportunity give-and-take on decisions that determine what type of network is desired, its purpose, goals, budget, and appropriate components.
We are NetQ Media, and we’ve been in the cabling business for a very long time. We have seen IEEE standards come and go, new technologies develop and fall by the wayside and clients with every imaginable set of requirements. Call us for whatever you need for your next cabling project.