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Installation: Banking on it

RBC Financial Group knows that staying ahead of the game in a competitive market requires substantial capital investments in technology. So, when the company built its new flagship facility, it installed a flexible network cabling system that would meet current bandwidth needs and provide headroom for future applications.


December 1, 2001  


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Wise corporate players know that every problem offers a fresh opportunity. And when RBC Financial Group decided to build in Mississauga, ON, it turned a traditional infrastructure challenge into a high-performance solution.

Developed as a flagship facility to showcase the highest levels of futuristic design in the areas of construction and technology, the company’s newly erected Meadowvale Business Park is a $130-million, 825,000-square-foot complex consisting of two nine-storey office towers. Positioned on a 63-hectare site, the towers are connected by a central atrium and house more than 5,000 employees.

The facility boasts many impressive features: it has, for instance, the capability of generating its own power — providing a safeguard in emergencies and energy savings. It also has a state-of-the-art electrical grid and a full-scale electrical backup system designed to “kick in” during power outages and peak periods when energy prices are at a premium — a feature which allows the building’s owners, Penreal Capital Management, to substantially cut energy costs. And then there are the four prime-rated diesel generators, fully synchronized and paralleled with the utility for power backup, which eliminate the risk of computer down-time.

But perhaps the real beauty of this new complex rests in its state-of-the-art connectivity capabilities.

NETWORKING NEEDS

When it came to cabling solutions, RBC Financial Group had a mission-critical requirement: a network infrastructure that would deliver ultra high-performance, be scalable, integrated and highly reliable.

“Technological leadership is a critical element in the bank’s success,” says Stephen Foster of the Premises Management Access Group (PMAG). An integral part of RBC Financial Group, PMAG works hand in hand with Systems and Technology, Campus LAN Management, Campus LAN Support, Telecom and Real Estate Operations and other technology groups within RIS and RBCI.

PMAG is involved in project management and assesses technology needs and challenges, makes recommendations to enhance users’ efficiency and productivity, and handles administration, facilitation, installation and follow-up. In other words, the group is part of the team that ensures everyone remains online and connected. Foster, who is business manager for PMAG, was the key point person on the project from a cabling perspective.

STAYING ON TOP

Grounded in the belief that technological leadership is a critical element in the bank’s success, technology choices are given careful consideration at RBC Financial Group. And staying ahead of the curve requires substantial capital investments in technology. Companies that risk falling behind in this area also risk being overrun by competitors.

RBC Financial Group services millions of customers — many of them on-line or over the telephone. To maintain its status, it must stay at the forefront of communications technology. The bank’s technology infrastructure is designed to generate the information and insight its sales force needs to deliver high quality to its customers. In selecting a structured network cabling system for the hallmark building, PMAG analyzed product offerings from several cabling system providers.

PMAG continues to support and maintain a standardized cabling solution for the bank as a whole, Foster says. And, he notes, “Meadowvale was not an exception.”

“All infrastructural decisions were based on years of experience with respect to cabling issues within RBC Financial Group,” says Foster. From small branch environments to large trading floors, PMAG’s goal is to maintain and support connectivity.

MAKING DECISIONS

Foster points to four key benchmarks PMAG used in this project — and continues to use when considering a cabling solution: First, the solution must have the capacity to accommodate today’s highest bandwidth ranges, and to provide unrestricted headroom for future applications.

He notes that the capability to deliver a high degree of flexibility and efficiency when making moves, additions and changes (MACs) is a second, important factor. A cabling solution must have a proven track record in the marketplace, says Foster.

Finally, he cites the need for a guaranteed high performance solution “that meets — and often exceeds” industry standards, and one which is fully warranted.

In the end, NORDX/CDT’s IBDN System 4800LX with BIX cross-connect was the system of choice. The system is designed to provide high guaranteed data throughput capabilities (4.8Gb/s) and signal power (300 MHz).

Company sources say that construction of the two nine-storey buildings was placed on a fast track and took only sixteen months to complete. NORDX/CDT was asked to comply with the builder’s network installation window, and the two buildings incorporated raised floors and required over 22,000 cable runs.

THE CABLING SYSTEM

With many of the floors housing customer call centres, the use of a BIX cross-connect design would facilitate future MACs and optimize cable space management. Cable raceways placed under the raised floor provided the pathways to feed the 4800LX cable.

With over 5,000 workstations, the network design, product placement, space saving characteristics and error-free installation procedures were all important elements of this installation.

In keeping with its customer-centric business approach, having a fail-safe network was a high priority item for RBC Financial Group. To compliment the network design provided by Systems and Technology, a fully redundant fiber backbone was installed. This path redundancy was achieved by inter-linking neighbouring telecommunications rooms and both buildings. The fiber backbone required over 4,000 single-mode fiber epoxy connectors, housed in 16 FiberExpress Managers.

Each of the two buildings incorporated ten telecommunications rooms and two basement level equipment rooms. The high-density BIX cross-connect systems were chosen for each telecommunication room. In total, 200 BIX mounts were installed to accommodate the IBDN BIX connectors and cross-connect jumper wire for data and voice applications.

GETTING ORGANIZED

Wire management accessories are essential to the proper maintenance of structured cabling systems. Stephen Foster chose a variety of products to ensure that “spaghetti cabling” became a thing of the past. In short, he provided a multitude of effective tools to maintain an organized telecommunications room where a clean installation is paramount. With BIX wire retainers, cable ties and distribution rings, the BIX mounts and BIX walls will remain neat, tidy and accessible.

Overall, this structured cabling infrastructure is designed to accept large numbers of users, giving each workstation the possibility of having data rates of 4.8 Gb/s on the backbone and 300 MHz to the desktop, and the ability to meet any application needs. In addition, RBC Financial Group will now have the capability to effectively and efficiently sustain highly organized telecommunication room environments and be able to quickly and effectively react to all network changes and future expansion requirements.

The structured cabling system, designed to provide a true 300 MHz transmission speed, is backed by an extensive certification program: the IBDN Certification Program protects RBC Financial Group’s investment and includes a 25-year product warranty on parts and labour from the date of installation. (NORDX/CDT also offers a lifetime application assurance that guarantees the system will support present and future applications for which this system was originally designed, as well as any new applications, for as long as RBC Financial Group owns the system in its original place of installation).

MAINTAINING LEADERSHIP

RBC Financial Group prides itself on being at the forefront of communications technology. This quest for technological leadership — a key element in any timely strategy for attaining the highest levels of customer service — is in keeping with an objective of maintaining a clear leadership position in all Canadian financial
markets.

These days, companies must have a technology infrastructure in place which generates the information and insight needed to give customers the kind of personalized, high-quality service they want — and deliver it how they want it and when they want it. In an industry where tough competition is driving the need for faster data transmission rates and more efficient change management, RBC Financial Group has installed a system which meets present and future network transmission needs.CS

JoAnn Napier is a technology author, writer and speaker, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her book “Technology With Curves: Women Reshaping the Digital Landscape” (HarperCollins) will soon be released in the U.S.


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