If you have a business, or you are in charge of moving your current company to a new facility and you have done this before, then it’s probably safe to say you’ve learned from that and will not make any of those mistakes again. However, if you’re new to moving a company, there are a few things concerning the IT infrastructure most of us don’t think about until it’s almost too late.
Let’s face it: you can’t move employees into a new space without network cabling in place. Network cabling should be one of the first things a company thinks about, along with properly sizing the IT or Server Room so it has enough room for all the racks and other necessary equipment – not just now, but in the future.
The heart of your company is the network gear and network cabling infrastructure. The network cables are like the veins that extend out from your heart; a business must have its network cabling in place before the move in date, or no work can be accomplished. Your company can’t function at full speed when there are problems with the cabling or slow and inefficient network gear.
Companies and their employees are working faster and faster and need the network infrastructure to support it. Time is money, and guess what? It all runs over the network cabling. Even if you run your computers using a wireless system, you still need network cables to the WiFi Access Points! Even the new VoIP phone systems need a fast cable to support the phones. An increasing number of companies are utilizing PoE (power over Ethernet) switches, which provide power through the cable. A minimum of a category 6 cable is recommended because it’s made to handle the power that is being supplied from the PoE switch.
Do not assume the network cabling from the last tenant who occupied the facility you’re about to move into is in place and ready to go. Property managers and new codes often require the old cable be pulled out before new cable can be installed because of fire and other safety reasons. You may need your new IT Room to be in a different location from where the current IT Room is now. Your design of the office areas and cubicles may be very different from the company that moved out. Or maybe the company that occupied the facility simply cut off all the cables before they left. Any of these cases will result in needing to install new network cables. If the old cables are still in place, you may be responsible for removing them at your cost.
OK – let’s make it simple for the first time move-in coordinator, shall we? Here are a few crucial tasks you must check off your list well before your move-in date:
- If you’re working with an architect, they will have a set of prints for your new facility. Make sure you let them know where you need voice, data, access point, fax, postage meter, conference room TV’s, etc., for each room and area in your new facility. Also be mindful that some new access points now require two Cat 6 network cables. Go over these locations with each department head, as they’ll likely have a better idea of where exactly cabling and equipment should be placed.
- It may be possible to splice your cables into the prior tenant’s cabling. However, splicing raises potential issues and should be viewed as a temporary solution.
- Count how many cables you need from the prints. This will help you determine how large the IT/Server room will need to be and how many switches you will need. Also, if any runs are over 290 feet, you will need another IT room or what’s commonly called an IDF (intermediate distribution frame) added. Some projects even call for multiple IDF’s. This involves running a fiber optic cable from the IT/Server room to each IDF to connect your network. A trusted network cable installation expert can assist you with this.
- Check out the new facility to determine if you need to remove any old cables. Determine if the existing IT/Server Room is in a good spot and is large enough to support your racks and networking gear.
- Always figure on buying new racks with wire management and patch panels for the new Category 6 network cables. This will allow the cabling contractor to install the network cables and already have them terminated and tested at the work area outlets, and on the patch panels. When you’re ready to move, the only racks or cabinets you’ll need to move are the ones housing your server and network gear. If you’re buying new switches, they can also be installed earlier with the patch panels, and already be patched-in and ready to go when you move. This is much more efficient and saves on installation costs.
- Demand an IT/Server Room large enough – or even larger than you need – to add an additional rack for future expansion. Always allow enough room for the racks and a 3-foot buffer surrounding them. For example, if you are using a 4-post rack or server cabinet that’s 4 inches deep, you’ll need 3 feet more in front and 3 feet more at the rear. You should also have a cable runway with waterfalls installed above the racks to allow the overhead cables to drop into the racks.
- Don’t forget the access points, training rooms and conference rooms set up for video conferencing, a conference phone and TV cabling, HDMI, and even COAX just in case you want to watch something being broadcast.
- Contract the services of a trusted Network Cabling Contractor. This contractor should have a full time RCDD (Registered Communications Distribution Designer) on staff, and also include BICSI trained cabling technicians.
- As noted above, involving a trusted network cabling installer will make your move go a lot smoother.
There are dozens upon dozens of things to keep in mind as you move your business. But with some advance preparation, you can safely relegate network cabling to the list of things that aren’t keeping you up at night!