Straight to the Point: Siemon’s New Z-PLUG Delivers High-Performance Plug-Terminated Links for Intelligent Buildings

Network infrastructure pros are well aware of the revolution happening inside the walls and ceilings of modern buildings, and they know what is driving it.  It’s the advent of intelligent buildings – the Internet of Things – where virtually every device is connected to the network cabling infrastructure, allowing building systems to communicate via Internet Protocol.  And thanks to advancements in PoE technology that cabling infrastructure is often expected to go beyond data communications, directly delivering low-voltage power to end devices.

cameraIn a traditional network infrastructure, horizontal cables terminate to work area outlets, with equipment connections made via double-ended patch cords. While this configuration is very commonly used is intelligent buildings to connect IP devices such as PoE lighting, security cameras, wireless access points, digital displays, and building automation controls, it is not always the most efficient method.

This “straight to the point” configuration offers a range of potential benefits, such as:

  • Enabling more rapid deployment of IP devices
  • Simplifying project BOMs
  • Cutting products costs
  • Improving security by eliminating patch cords that can be easily disconnected from devices like surveillance cameras.

However, despite the market availability of field-terminable plugs, the wide adoption of plug-terminated links has, to date, been limited by a number of factors – most critically performance limitations and ease of use.  Again, in the simplest terms, these plugs did not perform as well as the traditional outlet and patch cord configurations and were difficult to terminate.

ZPlug copyBut today, thanks to innovations such as Siemon’s new Z-PLUG, the benefits of plug-terminated links for high performance, direct connections to IP devices may be realized.

Request a free Z-PLUG sample

In terms of performance, Z-PLUG delivers a high level of 10 Gigabit system transmission performance and supports advanced Power over Ethernet.  In fact, where switching from the traditional outlet and patch cord device connection to a plug-terminated link once forced cabling pros to sacrifice performance, deploying Z-PLUG to eliminate additional outlets and patch cords can actually improve transmission performance and enable more efficient power delivery.

Z-PLUG also delivers excellent flexibility, supporting the most common cabling types and configurations in a single product/part number. Z-PLUG can be quickly terminated to shielded and UTP, solid and stranded Category 6A and Category 6 cables in conductor sizes from 22 to 26 gauge, allowing it to be easily deployed in a wide range of projects and applications.  To further improve usability, all Z-PLUG components can be plenum-rated for use in air handling spaces.

ZPlugtool copyIn addition to application flexibility, the Z-PLUG’s innovative termination process significantly reduces termination time while simultaneously helping ensure repeatable connection performance.   This contractor-friendly, intuitive termination process centers on Siemon’s hand-held, ergonomic Z-PLUG tool.  The steps are extremely simple:

ZPLUG_TERM_STEPS_4

  1. Strip the outer cable jacket and lay the conductors into the Z-PLUG lacing module
  2. Lace the conductor pairs according to the integrated color-coding guides and trim
  3. Insert the laced module into the plug housing
  4. Insert the plug assembly into the Z-TOOL and finalize the termination in one easy motion
  5. Plug into your IP device!
  6. Z-PLUG can be disassembled and reterminated up to three times

Z-PLUG can be terminated with or without the optional boot.  Coupled with the plug’s rounded corners and reduced-length plug body, Z-PLUG’s ability to “go bootless” make it ideal for connecting devices with limited plug space and depth, such as IP cameras and WAPs.

Other unique features include an optional latch guard that protects the latch during cable routing, provides improved accessibility when unplugging/connecting devices in tight spaces, and supports simple color coding of links through 9 different colors options.

The exponential growth of intelligent buildings and PoE device technology presents an excellent opportunity for network infrastructure professionals: the technology is established, the devices exist, and the volume of network cables needed to support this trend will increase. As such, Z-PLUG’s simple and straight to the point approach to IP end-device connectivity can be a significant advantage.

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Cost is More than a Price Tag

pricetagWhen it comes to choosing optical fiber cabling for your data center, it’s important to understand the hidden costs of making the wrong choice. Just because optical fiber assemblies from certain sources cost less upfront, does not mean these solutions are the most cost effective choice in the long run.

Testing overwhelmingly shows that generic optical fiber assemblies from unknown sources frequently fail end face geometry, performance and mechanical reliability testing. One needs to therefore ask themselves if the upfront savings from buying substandard optical fiber assemblies are worth putting network performance at risk. Considering the extreme cost of downtime, it is ultimately more cost effective to choose optical fiber assemblies from reputable manufacturers that place a high emphasis on all facets of fiber optic assembly performance, including the use of rigorous process control over end face geometry, cleanliness and mechanical reliability to ensure superior optical performance.

Carefully weighing the options and considering your future growth and application assurance for the future should also not be overlooked. If what you spend your IT budget on today adds no value tomorrow, or ends up costing you more because you are not able to effectively support your future needs, was it really the most cost-effective choice? Data center managers would be wise to not only examine their source vendors, but also rely on the expertise of designers and consultants who have a pulse on the available optical fiber options, applications and future standards developments and can help you choose solutions today that will ultimately cost less tomorrow.

Click here to access the test results on the performance and reliability of generic optical fiber assemblies.

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Mexican Structured Cabling Standards

mexico-map-clipart-1.jpgThe Mexican Subcommittee on Standards for Interconnection of Information Technologies is the organization responsible for developing telecommunications cabling Standards for Mexican IT infrastructure system users, designers, and specifiers. Recently, the Structured Cabling Working Group finalized Mexican Standard NMX-I-14763-2-NYCE for the planning and installation of generic cabling, which is harmonized with international Standard ISO/IEC 14763-2. So far, the working group has produced nine structured cabling-related Standards:

  • NMX-I-108-NYCE-2006: Telecomunicaciones – Cableado – Cableado estructurado – Puesta a tierra en sistemas de telecomunicaciones
  • NMX-I-132-NYCE-2006: Telecomunicaciones – Cableado – Cableado estructurado – Especificaciones de las pruebas de cableado balanceado – Parte 1: Cableado instalado
  • NMX-I-154-NYCE-2008: Telecomunicaciones – Cableado – Cableado estructurado – Cableado genérico residencial
  • NMX-I-248-NYCE-2008: Telecomunicaciones – Cableado – Cableado estructurado – Cableado de Telecomunicaciones para edificios comerciales – Especificaciones y métodos de prueba
  • NMX-I-279-NYCE-2009: Telecomunicaciones – Cableado – Cableado estructurado – Canalizaciones y espacios para cableado de telecomunicaciones en edificios comerciales
  • NMX-I-14763-1-NYCE-2010: Telecomunicaciones – Cableado – Cableado estructurado – Implementación y operación de cableado en edificios comerciales – Parte 1: Administración
  • NMX-I-24764-NYCE-2013: Tecnología de la información – Sistema de cableado genérico para centros de datos
  • NMX-J-C-I-489-ANCE-ONNCCE-NYCE-2014: Centros de datos de alto desempeño sustentable y energético – Requisitos y métodos de comprobación
  • NMX-I-14763-2-NYCE-2017: Tecnologías de la información-Implementación y operación de cableado estructurado – Parte 2: Planeación e instalación

The following two Standards, one for optical fiber cabling testing and one for telecommunication grounding networks, are currently under development by the Structured Cabling Working Group:

  • PROY-NMX-I-14763-3-NYCE, Tecnología de la información – Cableado estructurado genérico – Implementación y operación – Parte 3 – Pruebas del cableado de fibra óptica
  • PROY-NMX-I-30129-NYCE, Tecnología de la información – Redes de unión de telecomunicaciones para edificios y otras estructuras

Click here to purchase NMX Standards.

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BICSI D033 Keeps Up with Smart Buildings

roadshowThe extensive number and range of networkable devices available for deployment in today’s smart buildings create environments that are safer, healthier, more energy efficient, and more responsive to occupant needs and preferences than ever before. BICSI D033, “Information Communication Technology Design and Implementation Practices for Intelligent Buildings and Premises” is targeted for publication later this year and will identify best practices for integrating diverse applications and devices on the IT network.

Key chapters will address media recommendations, cabling topologies, design considerations for applications supporting both data and power, device density and coverage area sizing, and pathway considerations. Supplemental information related to deploying lighting, digital signage, acoustic and intercom systems, metering and monitoring systems, and other special building applications will also be provided.

The topologies and media referenced in the draft BICSI D033 Standard are based on the horizontal and backbone cabling specifications appearing in TIA-568.0-D and ISO/IEC 11801 1. Structured cabling supporting intelligent building applications in new installations shall be deployed in a hierarchical star topology and consist of a minimum of category 6/class E (category 6A/class EA recommended) balanced twisted-pair, laser-optimized multimode (i.e., OM3, OM4, and OM5) optical fiber, and all forms of singlemode optical fiber cabling.

The draft Standard emphasizes that a zone cabling design, which consists of horizontal cables run from the telecommunications room to a horizontal connection point or HCP (an intermediate connection point that is typically housed in an enclosure located in the ceiling space, on the wall, or below an access floor) provides a flexible infrastructure to accommodate current and future data, voice, building device, and wireless access point connections. Since spare ports are available at the HCP and individual cables only extend from the outlets at the HCP to building devices or outlets, zone cabling systems support rapid reorganization of work areas and equipment and simplify deployment of new devices and applications.

Detailed requirements for sizing and provisioning assist in the design and layout of entrance rooms, equipment rooms, telecommunications rooms, and telecommunications enclosures where cabling and equipment connections are made. Considerations for a wide range of cabling pathways (e.g., cable trays, J hooks and other non-contiguous pathways, conduit, raceways, ducts, poke-throughs and other in-floor systems, and access floors) aid in identifying the optimum pathway infrastructure system for various building system applications.

The key to a successful smart building deployment is the proper planning, design, and deployment of the cabling infrastructure. When published, BICSI D033 will be a valuable resource for intelligent building cabling best practices and the zone-based structured cabling architectures.

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Fiber Field Terminations in Under 30 Seconds!!

LightBow_PromoFast deployment and superior reliability are of the utmost importance in today’s fiber networks, which is why many data centers deploy plug-and-play preterminated assemblies – especially for high speed 40 and 100 Gigabit applications that require factory-terminated MPO/MTP style connectivity. But many installation scenarios still benefit from the flexibility of multimode and singlemode duplex fiber field terminations.

When it comes to fiber field termination, quality connections are often directly related to the skill level and experience of the technician performing the termination, and verification is a critical step to ensure that the terminated connectors will reliably transmit the signal. For example, dirty fiber end faces and air gaps between fiber end faces can cause insertion loss and return loss that result in degraded network performance, retransmits or even non-functioning fiber links. And because there are far more steps involved in fiber field termination versus using preterminated fiber assemblies, field termination also results in higher labor costs and slower deployments.

Fiber field termination systems therefore need to offer quick and easy terminations while ensuring consistently high performance connections and the ability to verify that a quality connection has been made. Thankfully, Siemon’s LightBow™ Fiber Termination System provides ALL of these benefits – speed, performance, reliability and the ability to verify the connection.

LightBow’s exclusive patent-pending termination tool dramatically reduces termination time by combining both splice activation and crimping in a single, optimized step and providing universal LC and SC connector compatibility with no time-consuming changeover. It also features integrated LC and SC strip templates molded right into the tool to ensure proper strip length of the fiber. To deliver superior consistent performance, the tool simplifies fiber insertion while its patent-pending bow feature maintains proper pressure of fiber ends during termination to eliminate air gaps. To further ensure reliability, the entire LightBow termination process is completed with the connector dust-cap in place, protecting the critical end face polish from contamination or damage.

And to immediately verify that a quality termination was achieved, LightBow pre-polished mechanical splice connectors feature a built-in verification window in the connector body for use with Siemon’s 0.5mW output power, Laser Class 1 visual fault locator (VFL), which is available in the LightBow Fiber Termination Kit. And following termination verification, the LightBow system offers the unique ability to adjust the fiber or reterminate the connectors if needed.

To showcase the speed and efficiency of the LightBow Termination System, Siemon is hosting a contest available to Certified Installers (CI) in the US, Mexico and Canada from March 1st to July 31st 2017. For this contest, CIs perform a successful termination as quick as possible and submit their recorded times to Siemon via video.  Already, entries show termination times well under 30 seconds!!LIghtBowKit

Siemon is also offering a FREE LightBow Termination Kit with the purchase of 300 LightBow Connectors. And the kit has EVERYTHING you need for terminations, including the patent-pending tool, the 0.5mW VFL, and a high precision cleaver with a long-lasting blade that lasts for 48,000 cleaves – all in a convenient carrying case.

Check out LightBow, the termination challenge and the free kit offer at:

www.siemon.com/lightbow

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Even the Smallest Green Efforts Matter, Including Packaging

When it comes to being green, Siemon has lonPackage_greeng been committed to protecting and preserving our environment through continual improvement in the sales, marketing, design, manufacture and resale of IT infrastructure and OEM components and systems. From our global environmental management systems that has been certified to ISO 14001 standards, to our zero-landfill status with a 179% carbon negative footprint across all global operations, Siemon is committed to conducting business in an environmentally responsible and ethical manner. And we strive to provide our customers with options that lets them be green along with us.

One way we help our customers to be green is through packaging. While it may seem like a small effort compared to Siemon’s larger green initiatives like our 15,600 square-foot solar power plant or the recycling of 99% of our manufacturing waste, when you consider the potential amount of packaging to thousands of customers around the world, it can certainly add up—not to mention the fact that the more packages that need to be opened and disposed means more time and labor for our customers.

Offering bulk packaging options to our customers is one way to significantly reduce waste out in the field. Siemon offers bulk packaging on many of its components, and we are always looking for new ways to do this. For example, we recently announced the addition of a bulk packaging option for our line of XGLO® Fiber Optical Pigtails. An expansion to its line of Lighthouse Advanced Fiber Cabling Solutions, these 900-micron buffered pigtails are security packaged in a protective recyclable container, eliminating individual bags for reduced installation time, freight and waste. Ideal for splicing applications and available in OM3 and OM4 multimode and singlemode fiber types, these bulk fiber pigtails also cost less than non-bulk pigtails to help our customers lower their total bill of material cost.

So whether it’s a Siemon V-Built preconfigured cabinet that comes with connectivity, PDUs and cable management preloaded, or something as simple as a bulk package of copper patch cords or fiber pigtails, remember that packaging matters when it comes to being green. For more information on Siemon’s environmental stewardship, visit www.siemon.com/green.

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Customized and Cost Effective – The Benefits of Preconfigured Data Center Cabinets

Looking to speed-up data center deployment by reducing the labor and time required to go live? Preconfigured data center cabinets are pre-assembled and packaged with all the components pre-mounted, arriving on site ready to make the final connections and install any active equipment. Preconfigured cabinets come preloaded with fiber or copper connectivity, power distribution units (PDUs), cable management or other accessories to reduce deployment time and labor by up to 30%!

Each preconfigured cabinet with its preloaded components is identified by one unique customer-specific part number and price, meaning it’s simple and convenient to order identical cabinets when needed. Preconfigured cabinets can also be predesigned based on function or application, which works well with data centers that use repeatable cabinet designs in pod configurations.

Because the components are preloaded and packaged at manufacturing facilities, consistency and quality can be more easily maintained compared to the field where installation environments and skill level can vary considerably. With preloaded components, packaging and waste are also significantly reduced, which makes preconfigured cabinets a much greener option. With cabinets and components from the same manufacturer, there is also a common look to the data center that improves overall aesthetics.

Based on a recent study conducted for a well-known global data center services provider, an 18-cabinet data center pod deployment using preconfigured cabinets was compared to a pod deployment using traditional cabinets where each component had to be unpacked and installed. Ultimately, using preconfigured cabinets took just 284 labor hours for deployment, while using individual components took 400 hours for deployment. The difference in labor costs was $5140 compared to $7240.

BenefitsAs part of Siemon’s WheelHouse™ Advanced Data Center Solutions, Siemon offers V-Built™ Preconfigured Data Center Cabinets with Siemon VersaPOD®, V800, V600 and Wall Mount Cabinets and preloaded with Siemon components. Identified by one customer-specific part number and price, these preloaded cabinets are assembled and packaged at regional Siemon manufacturing facilities and delivered to the site ready to connect the cabling and install active equipment.

For more information visit www.siemon.com/wheelhouse

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Why 8-Fiber MPO/MTP Solutions Are Your Path of Least Resistance

In looking at current and future applications – for both multimode and singlemode – it is easy to see that the foreseeable future will be dominated by 2- and 8-fiber solutions. Table 1 below clearly shows that the Ethernet Optical Transceiver Roadmap includes fiber applications that are always divisible by either 2 or 8 fibers. What does this mean for existing 12-fiber MPO/MTP connections?

Table1_28Fiber

Table 1: Ethernet Optical Transceiver Roadmap includes multimode and singlemode fiber applications that are always divisible by either 2 or 8 fibers

For applications like 40 Gb/s (40GBASE-SR4) and 100 Gb/s (100GBASE-SR4) that are based on 8 multimode optical fibers, as well as future 400 Gb/s, the use of 12-fiber MPO/MTP solutions means that 33 percent of the optical fiber goes unused. One way that data center managers can ensure 100 percent utilization of optical fiber with 12-fiber MPO/MTP solutions is to use conversion cords or modules that transition two 12-fiber or one 24-fiber trunk from backbone cabling to three 8-fiber MPO/MTPs for connecting to 40 and 100 Gb/s equipment. This is ideal for those data centers that already deployed 12-fiber or 24-fiber backbone trunk cables. It should be noted however that conversion modules introduce additional insertion loss into the channel and conversion cords mean that three ports need to be taken off line in the event that the cord needs to be replaced.

On the other hand, 8-fiber MPO/MTP solutions that are starting to hit the market are considered the most efficient option since they support current and future duplex fiber applications using modules that break out 8-fiber MPO/MTPs to duplex LCs, as well as current and future 8-fiber applications without the need for conversion cords or modules.

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Singlemode or Multimode for Big Data in the Data Center?

DataCenterThe Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly evolving and brings many great advantages to organizations. However, the vast amount of Big Data that is expected from IoT, as well as from increasing storage intensive and cloud-based applications, has a significant impact on data centers. Within the data center environment, especially within switch-to-switch backbone links to the core and to the storage area network (SAN), there is immense pressure to handle extreme data volumes. To process this data, switch-to-switch links are rapidly migrating from 10 Gigabit per second (Gb/s) speeds to 40 and 100 Gb/s and beyond, which is best served by optical fiber cabling. In addition to higher speeds, the sheer number of equipment and fiber links continue to increase, leading to increased densities of fiber connections that need to be carefully managed.

With several fiber applications, standards and technologies available, data center managers need to understand current and future choices that provide reliable low latency, high bandwidth connections and scalability. First and foremost, data centers looking to upgrade their entire backbone data center cabling are faced with whether to deploy multimode or singlemode cable. While singlemode may offer the best future proof capabilities, the active equipment required currently remains more expensive than multimode equipment. Further, while most data center backbone links do not require the reach distances currently supported by singlemode fiber, which include up to 10 kilometers (km) for speeds ranging from 40 to 400 Gb/s, hyper scale data center backbone links often exceed the 100-meter maximum link length supported by multimode equipment. Hence, while multimode fiber remains the more common choice for these links, new developments in optimized-reach (i.e., 500 meter) singlemode data center solutions are expected to change the landscape of data center architectures.

Even selecting multimode fiber has become a more complex endeavor, especially with the upcoming 3rd edition of the ISO/IEC 11801 standard that will include a new type of wideband multimode fiber, designated as OM5. While existing OM3 and OM4 multimode fiber is specified to operate in the 840 to 860 nanometer (nm) wavelength range with 850nm as the optimal wavelength, new OM5 wideband multimode fiber specifies a wider range of wavelengths between 840 and 953nm to support wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technology. WDM technology multiplexes multiple signals onto a single fiber using different wavelengths.

While OM5 may seem like an advantage in terms of reducing fiber strand counts, it is important to note that there are no applications currently under development within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to operate over this medium and, as a result, there is no available information on data rate, link length, or strand count for installing this media today. As such, one of the emerging singlemode fiber applications may be the better solution for anyone looking to future proof for 400 Gigabit. For example, the pending IEEE P802.3bs (400GBASE-DR4) standard is slated to cost-effectively support 400 Gb/s over singlemode to 500 meters using 8-fibre MPO/MTP solutions with 4 fibers transmitting at 100 Gb/s and 4 receiving at 100 Gb/s. For more information, see our previous blog on OM5 multimode fiber.

In addition, the pending IEEE P802.3cd (50GBASE-SR) standard – anticipated to release in 2018 – will support single lane 50 Gb/s, demonstrating IEEE’s commitment to the development of higher capacity applications over the installed base of OM3 and OM4 multimode fiber. There is also work on singlemode technologies for shorter reach (500m) applications via the pending IEEE P802.3cd (100GBASE-DR) and IEEE P802.3bs (200GBASE-DR4/400GBASE-DR4) that may provide yet another case for singlemode fiber to be considered.

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Learn How to Plan and Design for the Future of Smart Lighting

POELightingAs intelligent lighting systems continue to see substantial growth year after year, it’s beneficial for infrastructure designers to have a comprehensive understanding on the deployment and installation of these systems. In fact, Power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting currently illuminates over one billion square feet of commercial space globally, and it is estimated the number of smart lighting deployments will grow from 46 million units in 2015 to 2.54 billion in 2020!

The driving factors behind its increasing popularity include the ease and benefits that accompany using Ethernet communication for control and deploying remote powering technology, such as 60-watt PoE. These PoE lighting systems rely on a well-designed infrastructure of high performance balanced twisted-pair cabling, network electronics, and software connecting and communicating with Internet Protocol addressable luminaires, dimmers, sensors, and controllers to deliver maximum performance.
PoE lighting luminaires typically use light emitting diode (LED) technology, which offers the added benefits of lower power consumption and less heat generation than other luminaire design alternatives, while lowering capital lighting investment, improving safety and comfort, and integrating with all Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled building automation systems.

A wide range of expertise is needed to specify, install and manage the many components in a PoE lighting system. Zone cabling is ideally suited for these deployments and infrastructure designers should be knowledgeable and prepared to adapt this cost-effective and efficient standards-based design.

Siemon’s newly created guide: Zone Cabling and Coverage Area Planning Guide: 60W PoE Lighting Applications is a valuable tool for designers and architects to utilize when planning PoE lighting systems within highly automated building spaces. This guide covers the areas of design and deployment, installation recommendations, integration with IoT applications, zone cabling for PoE lighting, coverage areas, location of zone enclosures, and more.

Learn more about PoE Lighting Applications for intelligent buildings and access the new planning guide at www.siemon.com/poelighting

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