Wireline in the campus
Wireline infrastructure in a campus has traditionally been
the preferred means of connectivity. We look at the technology options, issues,
and future possibilities. by Soutiman Das Gupta
Companies with large campuses such as Hero Honda Motors Limited, BPCL, and
Godrej Industries Limited have deployed robust campus networks that combine
switched Ethernet with an optic fibre backbone. When it comes to connecting
separate buildings optic fibre is preferred. Copper beyond a building is usually
not a viable option. Although Cat 7 can support 10 GbE transmission, the use
of copper in the outdoors has some disadvantages. Constant exposure to the sun
and rain, along with temperature fluctuations can make the cable brittle and
cause it to lose its properties.
"At most, an enterprise can consider copper cable to connect buildings
that are not more than 90 metres apart. Beyond that, it's best to use optic
fibre, says Rajesh Kumar, Country Head, Siemon India.
Gigabit ethernet indoors Fibre outdoors
Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) have provided fast and
reliable connectivity in the campus within buildings. The use of this technology
in conjunction with an optic fibre backbone provides a robust solution for large
So what kind of fibre should a company deploy? OM3 is the latest standard from
ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) and IEC (International
Engineering Consortium). "It is essentially a multi-mode fibre that can
utilise lower-cost light sources, such as light-emitting diodes or Vertical
Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers (VCSEL), to achieve speeds and distances previously
only possible through more expensive single-mode fibre solutions," explains
KK Shetty, Country Manager, Tyco Electronics Corporation India Ltd.
This is a popular technology and many organisations including the likes of Wipro
Technologies in Bangalore, Wipro Spectramind in Delhi, Cognizant Technologies
in Chennai, and the Benaras Hindu University use OM3 backbones in their campuses.
"For distances greater than 550 metres, companies should use single mode
optic fibre cable. It works out to be cost effective and will last for a very
long time," says DS Nagendra, Country Sales Manager, PremisNET, Krone Communications
Between each building, the fibre should terminate at an Ethernet switch which
has the requisite number of fibre ports. In case a building has a small LAN
infrastructure, the fibre link can pass through a fibre to UTP converter and
terminate at a hub.
Structured cabling issues
The use of structured cabling in the campus can give rise to a few issues.
Temperature changes: Extreme heat or cold can affect transmission quality of
cables. To avoid this, the cables must be laid in sealed tubes and buried underground.
Broken links: Optic fibre cables are very thin and may break if they are bent
too far. In such a case, digging out the cable from an underground passage can
be cumbersome. To avoid this, companies are advised to use tried and tested
cabling solutions from reputed vendors.
It's also a good idea to keep a cable testing tool handy. "It helps pinpoint
the exact place where the cable has torn making it unnecessary to rip out the
entire cable pipeline to search for a broken link," says Nimish Sonawala,
Business Development Manager, Fluke Networks.
The campus of the future
"The success of a future proof campus network depends on how intelligently
you plan the network," says Vikas Pinjarkar, GM, SCS Sales, D-Link India
Limited. "Make a list of the kind of applications you plan to run and identify
a core group of applications that will require the maximum bandwidth."
For instance, ERP and database information can be allotted a higher priority
than e-mail messaging. Applications such as VoIP and those rich in media content
can be given a robust low latency backbone.
"Intelligent cabling is one that is more responsive to user needs and has
the ability to adapt to new technology or changes in the organizational structure,"
says Deepak Jagtiani, National Sales Manager, MPN, Molex India Ltd. For instance,
if a cable has been removed from a port and plugged in elsewhere, the system
will automatically inform you about the changes and compatibility issues. This
approach gives flexibility and provides protection against the future as it
simplifies additions, moves, and changes with the help of cable management techniques.
See box: Intelligent cabling systems for more information
Campus networks of the future will be built on switched Ethernet technology,
using a single mode optic fibre backbone, with 10 Gbps transmission capabilities.
The use of composite cables, which have a few strands each of single mode and
multi-mode optic fibre in the same jacket will also be preferred.
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org