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Structured wiring cuts costs, confusion.

The structured wiring system used by the Software Products Group of Information Resources, Inc. for its LANs (local area networks) and communications permits changes with minimal disruption and without new cables. It handles virtually any network equipment.

The Software Products Group offers decision support applications and executive information systems to industry and government, emulating customer networks and systems to aid software development/testing and customer training and customized software applications.

Premises wiring in its Waltham, Mass., home accommodates computer and communications equipment from multiple vendors and supports various LANs, including Ethernet and 4-Mb/s token ring systems, async communications and IBM 3270-type terminals. Its data center includes IBM, Prime, DEC and Hewlett Packard mainframes; offices contain one or more terminals and personal computers.

Before recent renovations, the firm spent thousands of dollars monthly running specialized cable from offices to the data center, as needs changed. High growth compounded the problem.

Says Joe Giggey, hardware support technician, "We were installing shielded twisted pair for token rings, coaxial cable for Ethernet and 3270 terminals, and phone wire as needed. The offices were soon equipped with a hodgepodge of boxes for each type of service.

"With the structured nodular concept, each office outlet is wired to our centralized data center in a star configuration. We picked unshielded twisted pair as a cost effective wiring medium capable of handling our current and anticipated applications. Structured wiring eliminates the need to pull cables.

"Making changes is simply a matter of changing equipment, adapters and patchcords at either end of the cables."

The group occupies four floors in one building and a partial floor in an adjacent building. ComLink Network Services, Auburn, Mass., designed and installed the system.

As a test, it wired about 50 offices in the adjacent building with UTP wiring for token ring data communication and voice, connecting them to the data center and PBX next door. Modular outlets from AMP Incorporated, Harrisburg, Pa., adapted the wiring for the application. Snap-in adapters perform impedance matching and configure outlets for connection to communications equipment.

The test was a success and the main building was similarly wired. ComLink's Paul Mardirosian says UTP offers low cost and functional flexibility.

"In our experience, UTP costs about 75% less than shielded twisted pair, and has proved itself in numerous applications as a universal wiring system."

Every office has a communication panel and a double gang box with two AMP Communications Outlets providing space for four adapter inserts.

"This is the standard arrangement," explains Giggey, "but the beauty of the modular outlets is that to change the token ring interface to Ethernet, for example, we simply pull out the token ring balun insert, and pop in an Ethernet type balun. Or down below, we could pull out asynchronous jacks and insert the 3270 type balun, then we fix up the other end in the data center to whatever is needed."

From office outlets, cables run overhead to a communications closet on each floor, avoiding long runs to the data center. "Nonetheless," says Mardirosian, "the effect is essentially the same as home-running the cables from each office to the data center."

Risers on each floor connect with 10 communications equipment cabinets housing equipment necessary for various LANs and for communication with customers and other company locations. Equipment includes data switches, token ring MAUs, modems, servers and X.25 common carrier interface equipment.

One set of AMP patch panels contains async jacks that connect to the data switch; the other holds communications outlets corresponding to office outlets.

"I can look at the distribution frame in the data center and determine who's got what in what office. I don't have to walk down the hall and check," Giggey says.

As the firm completes renovation of one building section, it moves people in and starts work on the vacated section. Moves occur over a weekend. The company plans to permanently lease space in both buildings as it becomes available, wiring in the same pattern.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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