By Erwin Deeben, Technical Sales Manager, Leviton Network Solutions
Significantly reduce installation time using pre-terminated fibre and copper cabling that’s made to measure
Pre-terminated cable provides a plug and play solution for links between switches, servers, patch panels, and zone distribution areas in enterprise and data centre networks. These solutions include a variety of trunk cables, array cables, and plug and play cassettes that give IT managers choices to suit specific needs. When compared to field terminated cabling, there are many reasons to consider pre-terminated optical fibre and copper cabling.
Eliminate field terminations
Field terminations are the most time-consuming, labour intensive process of installation. Once pre-terminated cabling is delivered, it can be unpacked, readied for deployment and connected quickly. In many cases, pre-terminated cabling can cut installation time by up to 80%.
Faster moves, adds, and changes
With pre-terminated solutions, IT managers can make changes on the fly based on rapid network growth, business decisions, or shifting requirements. In disaster recovery situations that call for fast, temporary data communications set-up, pre-terminated cabling can minimise business downtime and establish communications quickly. It can also be disassembled quickly when the situation is resolved. The components are reusable and can be moved and relocated as necessary to accommodate moves, adds, and changes (MACs).
Avoid time-consuming rework
Pre-terminated cabling provides more consistent channel transmission characteristics due to no variation in the skill levels of field technicians. Precision factory-termination processes take place in a clean environment, unlike termination in uncontrolled field conditions. This increases the likelihood of clean and uncontaminated optical fibre ports, enables lower loss budgets, and provides overall better electrical transmission. Factory terminations are also guaranteed under warranty, which gives data centre managers peace of mind.
Cut clean-up time
Pre-terminated solutions allow for quick clean-up due to minimal leftover materials and scrap. And because there’s less waste material to dispose of, pre-terminated solutions can also help meet green design, waste reduction, and material reuse goals.
Tips for choosing the right cabling
Although it doesn’t require as much time or as many installers in the field, pre-terminated cabling does require additional upfront planning and a detailed analysis to establish the cabling and termination routes and lengths needed. From determining the overall architecture, cabling media, pathway systems, elevations, and rack-level details, to understanding the customer’s unique requirements for scalability, density, manageability, and deployment schedules, there are considerations that go into planning a pre-terminated cabling infrastructure. Some key considerations to remember include:
Architecture and configuration
It’s important to understand what type of architecture and configuration will be deployed, such as traditional three-tier switch architecture, fabric switch architecture, end of row, middle of row, or top of rack configurations. This will help determine the placement of equipment and servers and ultimately impact the cabling termination routes and lengths required. Your network configuration may also be influenced by the desired approach to managing and maintaining the network infrastructure.
Determining applications and required cable media for copper and optical fibre links is a key part of the planning process. This might include cost considerations, bandwidth needs, distance limitations, equipment interfaces, power consumption, pathway space, and overall life cycle costs. The environment itself also should be considered, including any electromagnetic or radio frequency interface (EMI/RFI).
Migration and scalability
Knowing the migration strategy and future plans will go a long way in selecting the right pre-terminated cabling components. For example, if there’s a need to support a migration from 10 Gb/s to speeds up to 40/100 Gb/s, careful consideration must be given to the optical fibre count, connector type, distances, insertion loss budget, and ease of switching out cassettes or other connectivity components.
The position, elevations, required separation, and type of pathway system used can impact cable lengths. For example, determining whether cabling will be run overhead or underfloor, knowing specific rack heights and clearances, accommodating required separation, and selecting the cable support system (e.g. ladder rack, cable tray, trough) will all need to be determined before calculating cable lengths between equipment and patch panels.
To carefully determine pre-terminated cable lengths, it’s important to know the rack-level detail of the installation. Bend radius and service loops must be considered, as should the distances to, from, and within each cabinet. With pre-terminated cabling systems, it’s important to order lengths that don’t come up short while avoiding too much slack in cabinets and pathways. Proper sequencing is also important to ensure that longer cable trunks are laid into trays first for an overall cleaner installation.
From density and airflow in the cabinet to preferences for polarity and colour-coding, proper planning for pre-terminated cabling solutions requires an extremely detailed analysis of the customer needs and specifications. The deployment schedule must also be carefully reviewed and communicated with the manufacturer to ensure a punctual delivery of materials.
Tips for choosing the right manufacturer
There are many options when selecting a pre-terminated assembly manufacturer to work with. Search for a qualified, reliable provider that can offer services and features such as guaranteed cabling performance, design assistance, and the ability to deliver large quantities of pre-terminated assemblies on time.
All pre-terminated copper or optical fibre purchased through a manufacturer should be tested and verified by a third-party to exceed ISO/IEC and IEEE standards. The manufacturer should also provide 100% testing in a quality controlled environment before the cabling is shipped out to the work site. You should also look for these qualities in a manufacturer:
Quality documentation and warranty, which means that each product is labelled with a unique serial number for full traceability. Also look for lifetime product, system, and performance warranties.
Look for a manufacturer that offers technical experts either remotely or onsite at no additional charge to help with topology and infrastructure layout, along with elevations, pathways and specifications.
ISO 9001 certification, which includes third-party auditing of manufacturer sites, functions, products, services, and processes.
Dedicated 24/7 make to order facilities that can take on large orders while providing fast turnaround. Orders that are too large, or too small, may be pushed to the bottom of the production pile in some manufacturing environments, but make to order facilities prevent this problem.