Matt Brunk
Matt Brunk has worked in past roles as director of IT for a multisite health care firm; president of Telecomworx,...
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Matt Brunk | November 19, 2012 |


Subtle Changes

Subtle Changes What you may not see is the effort required to converge the stuff that's hidden above you in the ceiling grid or concealed in the conduits and walls.

What you may not see is the effort required to converge the stuff that's hidden above you in the ceiling grid or concealed in the conduits and walls.

Whatever predictions about enterprise telephony remain, the prognosticators may be missing the subtle changes:

Cabling & Infrastructure--Just because you want traditional cabling to go away, it isn't and it won't. Grandfathered into many solutions you still will find legacy 25/50/100-pair and even Amphenol wiring from 1A2 days; Category 3 & 5 along with signal and sound and sensor/alarm wire.

What you will find less of are: 66-blocks and brackets; dual cable drops that are both Category 3 and Category 5E; dual demarcations (one for voice and one for data), mushrooms, d-rings, beanies, biscuit jacks and phone gear on the wall. Some distributors don't even bother selling or stocking Category 3 cable. Some may even ask, what's that?

What you will find more of are: dual Category 5E or 6 drops; composite cables, single demarcations and fiber between switch stacks; switches in the same stack; and high resource gear. Cable drops are terminated as 568A or B and patch panels, not punch-down 66-block. Cross-connects are disappearing from the PBX to the cable plant.

What you may want to consider is fiber to the Access Points. The next worthy development will be Power over Fiber.

Desktops--Digital proprietary telephones still remain. DECT phones also still exist, but investment in these is risky given the rise of VoWiFi and smartphones. Why have two wireless infrastructures?

What you will find less of are: SIP phones enabled with CEBP. Also, desktop computers are in less demand for consumers favoring mobility, convenience and a smorgasbord of apps.

What you will find more of are: The same predictions as in the past when it comes to things like SIP and CEBP; and also, installation practices that are subpar, e.g., cable lying on ceiling grid; no firestopping; wrong materials or incompatible materials used for the infrastructure; lack of power and circuit protection; poor or no grounding; lack of planning; and poor cable plant design practices.

What you may want to consider is which device will attract the most use and/or yield the highest return; go with that, then build your network access with high availability and reliability.

Network--WiFi is king and it's in demand. More infrastructure improvements engage the needs of mobility, and there's less focus on adding new physical infrastructure--namely, cabling. Even as the Access Points (AP) that we deploy today sometimes seem outdated as soon as they're installed, somewhere down the line on someone's calendar is another technology refresh date awaiting approval.

What you will find less of are: Devices that aren't WiFi compatible.

What you will find more of are: Interoperability issues with WiFi and the accessories.

What you may want to consider is leveraging VoWiFi with BYOD devices and getting the right fit for UC integration. Also consider paying for licenses to keep costs down and communications flowing--and don't forget the wireless headsets.

The challenge will be netting a payoff--unless you think of WiFi in different terms. For example, in the 1980s, SMDR/CDR (station message detail recording/call detail reporting) was big for reining in costs for large enterprise spends on cost per call--some companies even expected reimbursement from employees for local/long distance personal calls. Is anyone expecting reimbursement for WiFi or Internet usage for non-work activities? In verticals such as education, WiFi is a tool and an accepted expense, so BYOD is accepted with a different mindset.

Whatever your policy or thinking, WiFi is here to stay and it plays an important role in any infrastructure that extends beyond BYOD or user computing needs, by providing access for M2M (machine to machine) communications. All of this requires more gear, and one thing that should become obsolete are non-PoE switches. PoE needs to become a standard, not an option, because more ports are needed and this means more support behind those ports.

Beanies, Scotchloks and D-rings may be less popular these days--in contrast, scrutiny and tighter budgets are the thing of the future. The landscape of telecom and networking is changing, and I think the first place to look for a reality check is through inventory, and then of course onsite, where all the old and new components, systems and "stuff" mesh together to form the network. While one side cheers the advancement of IP, another clash is occurring onsite because like anything else, retaining old stuff and bringing it along to satisfy old needs is a constant theme.

Information communications and technology are spreading beyond desktop computing and human-to-human communications. Some of the trades (HVAC, Alarm, Access/Control, and Security) are seeing opportunity in "connecting" to customer networks, and these networks better be well equipped and positioned to expand and contract.

What you may not see is the effort required to converge the stuff that's hidden above you in the ceiling grid or concealed in the conduits and walls--but it's changing and these subtle changes are pointing to a different kind of thinking that will drive growth and new demands on the network.


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