Go Ahead, Move Your Infrastructure
In a recent campus infrastructure project, adds, moves, and changes improved connectivity to an underserved area while keeping expenses in check.
A stalled campus infrastructure project I recently worked on serves as a good example showing that business reasons still prevail when it comes to making decisions about IT projects.
Costs on this stalled project weren't staggering, but they were high and unnecessary. Site surveys mean little when contractors ignore the customer and its needs.
The contractor had determined that there were two too many intermediate distribution frames (IDFs), or closet locations, supporting the wiring and LAN infrastructure. This idea seemed well founded... until the contractor expanded its effort to include the removal of two additional IDFs. Then the project became an effort of recabling and high costs, which led to questions about why the decision had been made to abandon fiber and how all of the reworking would benefit the campus.
Over dinner I asked the question, "What are the business reasons for and benefits of this project?" Removing the initial two IDFs was the reason for the project, I learned. These IDFs had been deemed unnecessary and were long the cause of space constraints and management difficulties.
After I visited the campus on a walk-through, we agreed that the plan of removing the two IDFs, while also adding a replacement, still made sense. However, we would pull the fiber back for the one abandoned IDF and connect to the new IDF location. We would de-install the fiber connecting the two former IDFs, then reinstall it to connect to an existing IDF and extend it to a new IDF in an underserved campus location.
By cutting the drop lengths in half, we would reduce latency and ease any future cabling efforts. The underserved area of the campus had lacked cabling and Wi-Fi penetration. Adding new cabling to this area would become more cost effective with the nearby IDF.
Now the customer's investment in fiber was protected, and the infrastructure improved. Cabling efforts don't always mean rip and tear and start over again -- and when contractors ignore customers, projects either stall, are abandoned or, unfortunately, given the go-ahead only to have unnecessary expenses follow.
For this project, we removed two IDFs and added another two to new locations. The moves, adds, and changes made sense in that they allowed the campus to meet needs it couldn't in the past accommodate because of distance.
Score one for my customer, who listened to what he described as years of my telling him over and over about long cable drops and latency. "No one was listening, [and everyone was] too willing to abandon fiber. That made no sense," he said. And that brought to mind this old engineering rule: If it doesn't look right, then it probably isn't.