Your network’s structured cabling is the backbone of your internal network operations. With high-speed connectivity now critical to daily business operations, your building’s cabling infrastructure is something you need to take seriously. However, it can be challenging to grasp how cabling impacts day-to-day operations. In this post, we’ll discuss the fundamentals of structured cabling, explore critical subsystems, and discuss the benefits of structured cabling to help you understand how they tie in with your broader business goals.
What is Structured Cabling?
Structured cabling refers to the standardized elements that connect a facility’s internal network infrastructure. A structured cabling system consists of multiple subsystems and components to streamline performance and distribution. Generally, a building has a main distribution area (MDA) that functions as the core of network operations. From there, additional subsystems can be added, moved, or changed to adapt to your organization’s changing needs.
The core subsystems of a structured cable infrastructure include:
The Entrance Facility
The entrance facility is where a building’s internal network connects to external networks, including the internal networks at other buildings. Critical components include:
- The network demarcation point: The physical point where your private network ends and public networks begin.
- Cables: Organized cables connecting devices and infrastructure in the entrance facility.
- Protection devices: Includes physical firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and unified threat management (UTM) devices.
- Connecting hardware: The hardware that unifies and connects the various devices and components on your network to outside networks.
Equipment rooms provide a centralized location to house network and wiring equipment. Depending on the size of your facility and network, you may have one for the whole building, or you may have one for each floor.
A telecommunications room houses your building’s telecom equipment, cable terminations, connections, and distribution frames. As with equipment rooms, your building may have one or more telecom room, depending on size and needs.
As the name suggests, backbone cabling—also known as vertical cabling—connects entrance facilities, telecom rooms, and equipment rooms throughout your building. Backbone cabling frequently runs from floor to floor with cables that are no longer than 30 meters long to maximize network performance. These cables can be:
- Fiber optic cables
- Coaxial cables
- Unshielded twisted-pair cables
- shielded twisted-pair cables
While backbone/vertical cabling generally connects each floor to your larger internal network, horizontal cabling connects the devices on each of those floors. Cables typically run in the ceiling or beneath the floor and are usually Ethernet cables or fiber optic cables.
Work areas provide a place on each floor to connect user equipment to network communication outlets.
The Benefits of Structured Cabling
With traditional point-to-point cabling systems, your network can quickly become a jumbled, incoherent mess as your operations expand. At the same time, without a centralized point of control, network security vulnerabilities are more likely to develop, and network performance often suffers. Structured cabling can help you overcome these challenges with benefits like:
Minimizing Overhead Expenses
As one of the most efficient cabling infrastructures, structured cabling reduces power consumption and maintenance costs, lowering overhead expenses. At the same time, you end up saving money in the event that problems arise and you have to locate the source of the issue before finding a solution.
When your network stops working, so does your team. That means system downtime leads to lost revenue and missed opportunities you can never get back. Structured cabling minimizes the risk of human error that comes with managing multiple or unorganized cabling structures. In the event of a network outage, it’s easier for your team to identify and resolve issues with a structured infrastructure.
As your organization grows, structured cabling simplifies the process of moving, adding, and making changes to your network. That ultimately saves your team on installation, upgrade, and maintenance time, so they can focus on more critical tasks.
Structured Cabling Best Practices
Whether you’re partnering with a team of IT experts to manage your structured cabling needs or you’re handling the project internally, making sure to follow these best practices can help you get the most value from your infrastructure:
The Importance of Planning
Before installing any network cables or devices, take the time to create a thorough design for how and where devices will be connected. Your plan should include cabling pathways and room locations. At the same time, you need to take into account factors like airflow and cooling systems to maximize network performance while providing a long-term network solution.
Matching Cables for Your Needs
You have a variety of options when it comes to deciding which types of cables are right for your network operations. The key is finding the ideal balance between cost and results. Make sure to research your options, so you can achieve that balance without under-serving your team’s connectivity needs.
Don’t Bend Cables
While network cables are designed to be bent to a certain extent, be sure your team doesn’t bend cables beyond their specified bend radius. Bending cables too far beyond this radius can actually end up constricting data flow and data signals.
Los Angeles’ Structured Cabling Specialists
As Los Angeles’ leading provider of in-house structured cabling services, Be Structured is here for all your cabling needs. Whether you’re looking for IT office relocation services, or you need to expand your existing infrastructure, contact our experts today and we’ll make sure your project is completed the right way.