Structured Cabling Systems
Today's Structured Cabling Decisions Determine Tomorrow's Business
Today's businesses require advanced information technology to maintain a competitive
advantage. The ability to network, or share information, has made the PC as important as
the telephone. Anixter recognizes the influence this has on business and can get you up to
As technology continues to evolve, the corporate network must support voice, data,
video and multimedia applications. Rapid increases in processing power, the growing size
of networks and the introduction of higher-speed access methods create an overwhelming
need for reliable, manageable structured cabling systems. Yesterday's Ethernet and Token
Ring networks will soon be replaced by today's 100BASE-TX and ATM switched networks--and
tomorrow's Gigabit Ethernet, Fiber Channel and 622 Mbps ATM technologies.
Processing speeds double every 18 months. New technologies are on the horizon.
At the same time, a successful enterprise demands both teamwork and flexibility.
Organizations face constant change, requiring the movement or relocation of people, their
workspaces and the services provided to them. As many as 18 percent of employees move
within a building every year.
Designed to accommodate frequent moves, adds and changes, a structured cabling system
is the foundation of the modern information network. Through all the changes and
challenges that confront your business, a structured cabling system can alleviate the
workflow disruption and network downtime associated with office restructuring.
No other component in your network has a longer life cycle or requires such close
consideration. Careful planning will prevent congestion that can dramatically diminish
your network performance.
Annual intrabuilding employee moves by sector
Source: AT&T Report On Office Churn
What Is Structured Cabling?
A structured cabling system provides a universal platform upon which an overall
information system's strategy is built. With a flexible cabling infrastructure, a
structured cabling system can support multiple voice, data, video and multimedia systems
regardless of their manufacturer. Wired in a star topology, each workstation links to a
central point and facilitates system interconnection and administration. This approach
allows communication with virtually any device, anywhere, at any time. A well-designed
cabling plant may include several independent cabling solutions of different media types,
installed at each workstation to support multiple system performance requirements.
A structured cabling system consists of several building blocks:
- Backbone cable: originates at the main distribution point and interconnects all
telecommunications closets in a building (Number 3 in the drawing below)
- Cross-connect products: provide a means for terminating cable while establishing a field
for moves, adds and changes
- Horizontal cable: the medium over which communication services are transmitted to the
workstation (Number 5 in the drawing below)
- Information outlets: the termination point for cable at or near the workstation
- Patch cable assemblies: connectorized cables that attach workstation equipment to
information outlets--these make moves, adds and changes quick and easy
The six subsystems of a structured cabling system
Just as the efficient exchange of information is vital to your organization, structured
cabling is the life of your network. No matter how your network grows throughout its life
span, a flexible and reliable structured cabling system will adapt to meet new demands.
Choosing a structured cabling system is an important decision--one that will affect the
performance of your entire network. Structured cabling's extended life expectancy requires
you to consider all potential bandwidth requirements for the next ten years. What will
your network be running? 100BASE-TX? 622 Mbps ATM? Gigabit Ethernet? Although your exact
requirements are difficult to predict, the demands on your network will surely continue to
grow at a rapid pace.
High-End Cabling Will Prepare You For Tomorrow
Over the past several years, the industry has established standards, including the
ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard, to simplify
material choices and installation practices. These standards create an "open"
architecture that can be used by any application or access method, ensuring consistent
system performance, especially when mixing components from different manufacturers.
Standards typically develop after products and technologies are created and introduced
to the market. Then, once the industry adopts a standard, it sets forth minimum criteria
that may meet only yesterday's communications needs. Substantial performance differences
can exist even among systems that meet a specific standard. This is particularly true of
copper Category 5 systems; many of these systems just meet the standard, but some far
exceed it. Although these high-end systems are superior, they are all considered Cat 5
because a higher-performance standard has not yet been developed.
Manufacturers continue to improve cable designs with new methods to insulate, twist and
jacket the cable. These modifications can achieve superior performance, but only with
proper installation. Because traditional installation practices may yield lower
performance levels, installers must follow stringent guidelines specifically for high-end
New LAN technologies currently being evaluated and the percentage of organizations
Source: Network Cabling Today & Tomorrow
In addition to advanced cabling products, the market develops new architectures for the
ever-changing workplace. Zone cabling with copper or fiber optics simplifies office
restructuring by reducing both installation time and material costs. A hybrid version of
this architecture, using both high-performance fiber optics and low-cost copper-based
electronics, creates a migration path for implementing Fiber-to-the-Desk (FTTD®).
Installing a high-end cabling system can really pay off. An investment in quality
components that exceed the minimum standards will ensure your network performs at its
intended level and will function under your operating conditions. It also provides the
capacity to accommodate future applications. Extending the life span of your information
system is worth the modest investment in a high-end structured cabling system.
As an investment, structured cabling provides exceptional returns. A structured cabling
system will outlive all other networking components. It requires minimal upgrades--and
ultimately saves your business both time and money. Many companies are already considering
high-speed access methods like ATM, Fast Ethernet and FDDI. High-performance cabling can
further extend the life of your network at minimal incremental cost, so it makes good
sense to choose a system now that will meet your anticipated requirements well into the
Choosing the right cabling system is critical for performance as well as reliability.
Physical management problems account for 50 percent of network problems, yet structured
cabling is only two percent of your network investment. Because the cost of downtime can
exceed $50,000 an hour, it's easy to see the significance of your investment. Anixter will
help you make this important decision.
Service You Can Trust
With the variety of technology available on the market today, it can be difficult to know
if you are making the right decision. Anixter is committed to providing you not only with
the solutions you need, but the service that will keep your network running smoothly.
Anixter is dedicated to training its employees and customers alike on the latest
technologies and products. Workshops are available to familiarize you with fiber optic and
copper-based applications and solutions at Anixter's facilities or at your site.
Anixter offers a level of service unmatched in the industry thanks in part to 200
Registered Communication Distribution Designers (RCDDs) certified by Building Industry
Consulting Services International (BICSI)--more than anyone else in the industry.
Anixter can help you every step of the way. We can assist in developing individualized
corporate cabling standards, facility drawings and proposal documentation. On-site help
with product selection and training is available from system engineers who can design a
complete solution with your current and future needs in mind. Anixter can also provide
technical and multisite project support as well as recommend partner contractors to
Mount Prospect Lab
When you need to make sure that your particular solution will work before it is
installed, Anixter has the answer. Our multimillion dollar structured cabling
interoperability and active data laboratories can evaluate products and systems in a live,
Anixter has shaped many of the current industry standards, and we continue to keep our
customers aware of the latest trends through our participation and membership in the
Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronic
Engineers (IEEE), National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the ATM Forum and
Infrastructure Management and Synopsis
One challenge to maintaining a complex network is following the rigorous cross-reference
methods required by the TIA/EIA-606 Cabling Administration Standard.
Effective management of your structured cabling infrastructure is made possible by
infrastructure modeling and cable management software. These management systems combine
the power of a database with the graphics capabilities of a computer-aided design
application (CAD). Customized programs incorporate user-friendly features to organize
moves, adds and changes for optimum network capacity.
Structured cabling is designed to handle a broad range of communications--from telephone,
fax and modem traffic to high-speed data and video. Ultimately, your network's specific
requirements will determine the appropriate cabling choices for your information system.
Here are several points to consider when planning a structured cabling system:
- Performance and bandwidth requirements
- Future network applications
- Life cycle cost
- Product features
- Support and service
At Anixter, we take all of these factors into account to provide you with a total
solution that meets your structured cabling needs. You'll get the best possible equipment
for your information system to help your network upgrade go smoothly. In addition, our
top-of-the-line services will ensure that you become comfortable with your new equipment,
enabling you to get your point across effectively no matter how you choose to communicate.