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Information Technology Digest:
Stable Computer Environments
by Wolfgang Blauen, CISSP 
4. Network and Wiring

And what about the network? – One more component in our series of articles revolving around ways to stabilize your computer network. Well, unless you want to spend your money on some high-end Service Provider-grade network equipment, you should be fine with the type of hardware you can buy from renowned manufacturers like 3Com® or Dell®, just to mention a few of them.

Actually, what are the differences and what do you need? Well, that depends on several factors. First, you should look at your current environment and determine what network speed you have a demand for. Most office and database applications work absolutely fine over a 100Mbit/s network (that reads “megabit per second” and means 100,000,000 ones and zeros are transported every second). Most computer networks nowadays are wired with Cat5 (category 5) or Cat6 wiring that either plugs cables directly from each computer into a central networking unit or has hardwired connections in the walls from outlets to a central “patch panel” with connection cables on either end to plug into workstations and networking equipment.

So what can you do to stabilize that?

For starters:

  • Make sure that no cables (hardwired or patch cables) are frequently moved, pulled, rolled over with office chairs, wedged or squeezed, cut or rubbed or otherwise mechanically altered.

  • Use only high flexibility, high quality cables with gold plated connectors. The cheaper the cables the more problems you can expect over time. The gold plating ensures solid connections and prevents tarnishing of the fragile contacts. This includes the patch panel and wall outlets.  

  • Make sure the company performing the wiring labels, tests and certifies each cable in the walls.

  • Make sure the network cables are adequately routed away from power wiring for lights, outlets and machine wiring. The network cards are basically receivers for FM radio signals (or TV in case of faster connections). Make sure to stay at least two feet away from fluorescent lights because the inductors can create false signals or noise on the network.

  • Use color-coded cables to better identify the wiring of specific connections on the server side or at the patch panel.

  • Have a protected area for your server and network equipment (preferably in a separate part of the building) with sufficient air conditioning and power wiring. This will greatly ease the pain of performing Administrative tasks such as changing backup media or maintaining multiple servers. It also allows you to centralize battery backup and secure access to the hardware as well as keeping the air clean to avoid premature aging of moving parts like internal computer fans (a common cause for motherboard and CPU deaths!)

  •  Stay away from solutions advertising computer networking over telephone wire. They typically don’t work at the speed you pay for.

(read on ...) 

Copyright (c) 2008 by In Scope-Solutions, Inc. 

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