Fibre drives smart systems

Sophisticated network of fibre cabling used to power IoT and smart building applications

Tags: Panduit Corporation
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Fibre drives smart systems The level of computing power and the bandwidth needed to run AI applications is only possible on a backbone of the latest fibre optic infrastructure cabling, Akinla said.
By  David Ndichu Published  July 30, 2018

There is massive interest in smart devices and the internet of things (IoT) technology in the Middle East, mirroring what is happening across the globe.

E-health is a good example, where artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are connecting individual patients, using smart mobile devices, to send medical data to a processing centre located in the data centre. Within the data centre, the fibre optic infrastructure acts as the high-speed link between the compute, storage and switch capabilities, observed Michael Akinla, technical systems engineering manager, Panduit EMEA. This level of computing power and the bandwidth is only possible on a backbone of the latest fibre optic infrastructure cabling, Akinla added.

New digital opportunities are opening up in the region, such as Saudi Arabia’s opening up its media and entertainment industries, which has led to an expansion of movie theatres and live video streaming on mobile devices.  Each of these applications at some point goes through the cabling infrastructure within an enterprise or data centre. “It is therefore essential that the infrastructure products and support provided by developers such as Panduit are of the highest standard available,” said Akinla.

Within the enterprise, these smart applications are largely running on converged IP networks in intelligent buildings.  This means that voice, data, video, security, lighting and building automation systems can run on a unified structured cabling infrastructure replacing disparate systems. At the same time, the cabling supplies low-voltage power via advanced Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology to many of these systems’ IP-enabled devices connected to the network, observed Prem Rodrigues, Siemon’s director of sales and marketing for Middle East, India & SAARC.

The benefits of converged networks are many. A single IP network can replace as many as eight or nine different cabling systems (each having proprietary wiring, connectors and pathways), which significantly reduces material use and labour time at point of installation, as well as saving 75% per cabling run compared to traditional AC power runs, Rodrigues observed.

One of the biggest applications for PoE is in Intelligent Building Management Systems (IBMS) that integrate and control all elements of an office or workspace digitally. This allows smart building solutions to allocate work area, meeting rooms, control lighting, cool or heat occupied workspaces, provide wireless access to authorised personnel and operate digital security systems. “As the intelligence of the control systems increases, the volume of data across the cabling multiplies and the need for the latest developments in cabling infrastructure becomes evident. This includes the cables, the connectors and other linkages as well as training and experience of the cable installers and maintenance teams,” said Akinla.

Akinla said Panduit is working with partners including Cisco and Philips Lighting to expand understanding of the potential of PoE, in light of the overly conservative safety standards currently in place. Together with partners, Panduit has demonstrated in a real-world test environment that a maximum bundle size for a 75 C or 90 C cable running 802.3bt Type 4 is 192 cables, where power and data were transmitted simultaneously, and where the temperature rise was measured at the centre of the bundle, proved that using quality Panduit infrastructure resulted in a lower temperature rise than previous worst-case models. “This demonstration shows that PoE cable bundles can be larger than current standards recommend, an important finding given that PoE requires this expansion capability as increasingly intelligent environments are connected, measured and controlled,” Akinla added.  

The benefits of PoE are as many as they are varied.

The capabilities provided by using a single IP network to replace many different systems, and multiple proprietary wiring, connectors, pathways, and maintenance staff, is becoming a reality, Akinla observed. “Generating cost efficiencies is a headline fact; however, the structured infrastructure approach offers an integrated solution that, in the very near future, will be almost totally autonomous, making decisions based on millions of daily measurements and AI predictive responses,” Akinla said.

PoE also provides safer solutions that integrate low-voltage remote powering technology. “PoE technology consumes less power and features greater efficiency due to fewer AC-to-DC conversion losses, which added to its attractive proposition for businesses and offices,” Akinla observed. 

In terms of sheer costs, zone cabling deployments can provide significant cost savings both on material and labour compared to traditional home run work area to TR cabling. This is because traditional home run topologies require more cabling materials and more installation time when moves, added and changes (MACs) have to be carried out, Siemon’s Rodrigues observed. 

An increasingly attractive connection methodology for today’s converged IP networks is plug terminated links. The technology further increases efficiencies whilst saving on material, time and labour. When plug terminated link technology is used, high-performance links connect directly to IP-based and PoE-enabled devices in modern buildings making network boxes, outlets and patch cords – which were previously required to make device connections – obsolete, Rodrigues explains. “Not only does this save on material and labour costs, it also enables much more rapid device deployment and because these links can be terminated on-site, they enable custom-length connections,” he added.

Additional benefits of plug terminated links include improved security, for example for surveillance cameras. Due to the elimination of patch cords, cameras can no longer be disconnected easily. Further, by eliminating extra connections points that were traditionally introduced by outlets and patch cords, performance is improved, and more efficient power delivery achieved, Rodrigues explains.

Multimode fibre optic cables are also growing in popularity, due to their ability to allow more data to pass through at a given time, albeit over short distances.

Panduit’s multimode Signature Core fibre optic cabling technology support 40GE (Gbps Ethernet) bi-directional networking in the data centre, which is increasingly the baseline for future-proofed infrastructure, with a technology life-cycle of 15-20-years. The Panduit OM4 Signature Core and BiDi is far less expensive than deploying single-mode systems for 40GE.

The OM5 Signature Core at 40G SWDM 4 extends reach to 485m and maintains high-performance values against standard OM5 reach of 440m. At 100G SWDM 4 (ShortWavelengthDivisionMultiplexing) OM5 Signature Core extends reach to 185m versus the standard 150m, and it provides a clear migration path to future higher compatibility 400GE Bi-directional networks.

Siemon’s LightSystem LightSystem 50 and 62.5 micron fibre optic cabling are suited for the support of Gigabit Ethernet and Fast Ethernet applications at all horizontal workstations, riser, and short length backbone locations.


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