Network installation setup is a vague description for a couple IT scenarios that generally play out within a new business. Disclaimer: The lovely world of cable management and IT has plenty expressions that mean the same thing or the layman only understands one expression used to describe a certain technology but it’s the wrong expression. I will try to clarify these issues and their many expressions in this post. Perhaps, emphasize in BOLD the IT lingo so you can hang with the techies and cable installers here in San Diego. Anyway, where was I? Ah riiiight…. Network installation setup scenarios:
The commercial space is wired meaning the network drops are installed and hopefully tested, toned, and marked with a number (1a, 1b, etc.) so that you are pretty confident that they work properly. Network drops are ethernet cables running from a central location to the wall plate where voice and data jacks are located. Again, these wall plates with voice and data jacks are marked in numeric fashion. That central location can be the wiring closet. The main closet MDF and the additional closet for a big office is the IDF. A fiber drop is ran in these larger offices from the MDF to IDF to maintain optimal speeds throughout the network and network devices comprising of routers and managed switches.
This scenario is ideal if it is in fact already wired. This means the IT guy can interpret the Network Installation setup as consultation on the ideal network devices for the organization’s processes and workflow. Typical Network Devices include:
Router – The routers you should be concerned with are basic home office routers that have limited functionality and the routers that do everything else. The most important features of the “everything else” routers are intrusion detection, segmentation, and QOS.
Switches – Switches come in many different sizes. 8, 16, 24, and 48 ports are typical switches. Managed is ideal for larger networks for managing and segmenting traffic. Unmanaged switches are found in environments under 50 users but manage switches are creeping into these environments because the cost has dropped significantly and their features are too beneficial to pass up.
Access Point – The laymen has several names for this hardware. The most commonly heard expression of late is “wireless” when referring to the access point. “Where are you going to place the wireless” What?
What is segmentation?
The average Joe thinks that they must maintain a separate internet connection from their service provider to secure their traffic from guest traffic. The more sophisticated routers can segment or separate traffic without having to purchase another modem. Grabbing a new modem or internet service is called a circuit and perhaps upgrading that circuit’s speed is money better spent than maintaining two mediocre circuits.
The commercial space is not wired or whoever did the wiring should be slapped. You are now entering the realm of cable management or a cabling project. Perhaps, some people call it cable installation but cable management is an art when done right.
Cable Management basics at the closet:
PowerPlease Note: Be very careful what you purchase. The Tripp Lite 8u/12u Rack can accomplish the same job as the hinged wall. The benefit of the rack is the shelf that you can mount with for placing the modem, router, and other accessories on. Perhaps, there’s already a shelf for that in place for those items right next to it reducing the requirements. Also, the depth of the rack is an issue if you plan to mount a server. The items won’t work if you have a 1 or 2u server.
Hinge Wall Mount
The enclosure secures the equipment, the rack stacks and mounts if the equipment is “rack mountable”, and the shelf or shelves can place equipment that is not rack mountable. Rack mountable servers come in “blades” with the smallest at 1U, double that is 2U, etc.
You can immediately tell a botched cable job when the cable drops ran did not include a Patch Panel. Patch Panels are crucial piece to keeping a network stable and organized.
Outside the closet network installation setup stuff to consider:
Cat 5e or Cat6? – The installer can advise on this but Cat6 for every new installation is adviseable. The amount of spool cable to purchase is obviously dependent the length of cable runs. “Pulling cable” can consist of running cable above ceiling tiles, drill holes through wood sometimes concrete (called core drilling or coring), attaching to the exterior of the wall called “raceways” or running and dropping cable behind drywall of an office space.
Here is an example of notes and requests after viewing a new cabling project and or network installation setup…
What is the construction schedule?
Who is general contractor? Email and number?
Questions the GC will want answered
The conduit scheme for east facing workstations non office ( this is for the core drilling from the ceiling of the suite below to the new suite)
Answers for GC
We advise 2 ½ or 3” conduit for long desks areas (the bigger the conduit, the more you can drops you can include)
Single or dual gang AKA twice the size face plate. We prefer not to terminate at the entry point or the wall. Instead, routing the drops to each workstation at a biscuit block AKA two port desk jack
Questions to the owner for network installation setup
Who’s current internet service provider? Phones?
Is their plans AC unit for the IT room? Sufficient Power?
Who is moving the rack? Computer Equipment?
Access Points aren’t discussed. Two Access Point should be sufficient. We found two ideal ceiling locations. Should we add that to the quote?
Do you have a preferred pathway for exposed cabling? We prefer to run the exposed ceiling route above the window. You won’t see it.
Attention to detail and Communication is key. Here’s an example:
Request CAT 6 white plenum cabling
36 (18 workstations) drops at south long desks
24 (12 workstations) drops west long desks
8 drops for the office spaces
Email drawings to Cabler
Cabling must be done before the close the ceiling. Phase 1 – rough-in cable
Phase 2 – Final paint is done. AKA trim out. Final phase – Place face plates on walls and terminate jacks. (We don’t care if our cable drops are painted over)
The theme here is to keep it clean. The three items above make for a pretty wall jack or jacks for plugging in your network devices. IMPORTANT: The more runs, the better. Try to have a 1 to 1 ratio for network devices. We do not want to see mini switches degrading your network’s performance.
Cable Network Installation Setup Diagrammed
Write it out, map it out, consider everything, talk to someone, or you will miss something. You can then consider routers, switches, and Access Points once you get to this point. Maybe you can get rid of that second circuit? Here’s some hardware to consider if you are going for a little more sophisticated setup
Sonicwall TZ 215
24 Port Switch
Do not buy Sonicwall Routers from Amazon. Contact a trustworthy reseller like www.GHA-associates.com. # direct: 510-270-5313 Tell them NetworkAntics sent you.
Collect everything you need for your network installation setup and jot it down on a spreadsheet including quantity and cost. This office wiring scenario is for 5000 sq’ office with over 90 network drops. It’s probably about $1500 in materials and 20 hours labor, 8 of those hours is two people pulling cable. Terminating cables is where the real difficulty comes into play.