Cables & Telecom

Kanary ... intelligent network infrastructure can maximise productivity.

Kanary ... intelligent network infrastructure can maximise productivity.

Invisibility key to LAN infrastructures

EHAB KANARY, vice-president of Enterprise, Middle East and Africa, CommScope*, explains to Gulf Construction the benefits of investing in comprehensive network infrastructure to minimise unplanned outages and maximise productivity.

August 2019

Let's face it: technology plays a critical role across the globe. The idea of using incandescent light as a wireless medium, the reality of foldable smartphones or 1 TBps transmission speed – it’s exciting and newsworthy. People love it. Network infrastructure, on the other hand, can be a tougher sell.

The fact is, the only time an enterprise’s local area network (LAN) infrastructure makes the news is when it goes down. Enterprise network managers do not get plaudits for maintaining 99.9 per cent uptime; they do, however, get called out on that 0.1 per cent when the network goes down. In today’s business climate, the cost of an unplanned outage is enormous – about $3.86 million per incident, according to estimates from the Ponemon Institute.

Furthermore, few years back, a tech’s typo at one of the world’s largest cloud services providers took a large swathe of servers offline for four agonising hours. According to one estimate, it cost S&P 500 companies $150 million – and US financial services companies $160 million – in lost revenue.

Of course, the hit to a company’s bottom line is just part of the damage. Any unplanned outage also affects business productivity, stakeholder relationships, supply chain logistics and everything else. The point is, network reliability and business continuity go hand in hand – it is a cause and effect. In addition, a reliable network infrastructure also helps with in-building wireless communication, stable connections between IoT (Internet of Things) devices, and support for today’s variety of building management systems.

Therefore, a resilient and intelligent network infrastructure can go a long way toward minimising the chances of an unplanned outage and maximising productivity across a business’s entire enterprise.

 

Invisibility is key

Key to running a successful and trusted LAN infrastructure is a system that operates ‘invisibly’.

Like a referee during a football match or any other sport you care to mention, the best cabling infrastructures are the ones you never notice. So how do you make your building’s LAN network invisible? It’s not magic. It just takes some good old-fashioned planning, as well as an understanding of how the various areas of a network infrastructure can impact upon network reliability. These infrastructures can be broken down into three key areas: automated infrastructure management (AIM), modular scalability and fibre network convergence.

 

AIM

AIM systems give those responsible for network infrastructures visibility at the port device level. They constantly monitor all the physical layer connections and alert personnel to any changes or potentially disruptive circumstances that may affect network status.

AIM systems can deliver a holistic view of networks and their connectivity, in real time. Intelligent software combined with network controllers and accessories allow users to locate and identify the equipment and ports they are responsible for, as well as track any network changes.

This physical layer management solution provides instant visibility to unauthorised physical intrusion activity and automatic documentation of all changes. The results are increased asset utilisation, reduced troubleshooting time, faster service turn-up and improved network security.

 

Modular scalability

Every successful network is continually evolving. Being able to adapt to change with minimal impact on business continuity requires a scalable infrastructure and modular components. This enables those responsible for network infrastructures to simply switch out pieces to support new technologies and faster speeds.

 

Fibre network convergence

Fibre network convergence refers to the combination of multiple services within a single access network. In other words, a single pipe is used to deliver all or multiple forms of communication services. For example, fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) networks have an extensive footprint that is perfect for supporting fast-growing mobile applications such as distributed antenna system (DAS), small cell and Wi-Fi backhaul and/or centralised radio access network (C-RAN) front-haul. Through fibre network convergence, a service provider could deliver a wider range of services, adopt new business models, offer innovative services and enter new markets.

The process of fibre network convergence is primarily driven by the development of enabling technologies, user demand and the service providers’ capabilities.

Large incumbent service providers have both wireline and wireless operations. So converging onto a single network and maximising asset utilisation makes excellent business sense.

Real-life examples have occurred where an FTTH network was built, and several months later, the same construction crew dug up the same street to lay fibre for a cell site, which is wasteful and disruptive. Network convergence would mean one build-out that could be utilised for multiple service delivery platforms.

For smaller telecommunication companies, utilities and municipalities – who have more limited budgets – addressing multiple market segments, adding revenue streams and de-risking the business case may be critical elements in network convergence. A city may have a project to fibre up schools and government offices, another project for traffic lights and security cameras, one for Wi-Fi in the city centre and one for residential high-speed internet. By converging multiple applications onto a single fibre network, this project now has more stakeholders, more sources of funding and greater economies of scale.

One challenge is that obtaining dark fibre for wireless applications can often be a lengthy and costly process. With cell diversification accelerating and 5G on the horizon, the availability of fibre becomes a potential bottleneck. The demand for fibre-based backhaul and front-haul will only continue to increase in wireless networks, however. This is an aspect of network convergence that needs greater collaboration and foresight.

 

Smarter infrastructure

A resilient and intelligent network infrastructure can go a long way toward minimising the chances of an unplanned outage and maximising productivity across the entire enterprise. Through the rollout of efficient network infrastructures, companies across the globe are now beginning to realise their vision for smarter, more productive buildings and work spaces.

 

* CommScope is a multinational network infrastructure provider based in Hickory, North Carolina, US.




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