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Structural shake-up

As converging technologies become more commonplace in the workspace, IT and communications managers will have to give more weight to the design, implementation, and management of their cabling system infrastructures.

November 1, 2001  

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Converging communications technologies are shaking up the traditional infrastructure behind IT systems. Worrying about voice is no longer the sole concern of IT managers — they must now be prepared to support integrated voice and data products as well.

The growth of Internet protocol private branch exchange systems (IP PBXs) and services such as unified messaging have made it necessary for IT departments to go beyond their conventional approaches to IT management. Industry trends moving toward IP-based networks will result in significant new demands.


The integration of voice and data services, along with the plethora of bandwidth consuming services, has created the need for transmission facilities that incorporate increased functionality and reliability. Far more raw capacity is needed. Yesterday’s building wiring is probably inadequate for today’s needs and this will become the major stumbling block to successful implementation of the new bandwidth-hungry and latency-intolerant services and technologies.

The increasing importance and complexity of the cabling infrastructure is making the issue of local area and campus cabling a vital component to a company’s IT and competitive strategies.


As users adopt (VoIP) services, deploy video conferencing and begin to embrace video streaming, flaws in the corporate networking fabric will become increasingly evident. That underlying fabric is not the long distance transport infrastructure, nor is it the high bandwidth metropolitan area network (MAN) that feeds the WAN. The flaws that will be identified will be in the viscera of the enterprise buildings themselves. Neither the wiring nor the structures of the present campus area networks (CANs) will be up to the demands placed upon them.

Without the proper infrastructure, companies will experience setbacks such as the inability to deploy bandwidth-intense applications; risk losses in productivity through service delays; and pay higher costs for inconsistent networks.


Strong relationships with cabling providers will be vital to fend off these challenges and ensure an effective IT system. The complexity of these IT systems and the applications they support call for outside experts that have the proper resources and perspective to design and manage these valuable assets. Companies that can provide a complete turnkey service offer integrated design-build-maintain solutions. An integrated solutions supplier can sign-off on a performance guarantee that assures that the customer will receive value for the infrastructure investment.

Choosing a cabling provider/manager can be an important factor in a company’s competitive strategy. Providers without the proper perspective on convergence and the integration of services are in a more difficult position to provide a complete suite of services. Companies that are able to directly administer design, installation and management, and also have a converged perspective, offer the most to IT infrastructure customers.


Bandwidth-consuming applications, such as voice-over IP (VoIP), video streaming and other wideband applications, will soon become more commonplace in the workspace. IT and communications managers will be forced to upgrade their systems and to pay closer attention to the design, implementation and management of their cabling system infrastructure to handle these new loads.

Effective IT infrastructure design and management will be the key to realizing the full benefits of technology. Indeed, neglect of the wiring infrastructure may well be a main determinant in corporate success or failure.

Jeremy R. Depow (sitting in for our usual wireless columnist Iain Grant) is a Senior Analyst with the Yankee Group in Canada, a technology-consulting firm in Brockville, ON. In this position, Mr. Depow is responsible for primary research and analysis of new telecommunications technologies and market developments. He also holds responsibility for the authoring of several Yankee Group Research Reports, which examine issues and developments in the Canadian telecommunications industry.

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