IT as a Utility

There are accepted utility services which businesses require in order to function: water, gas, sewer and electricity services are at the very top. As public utilities, these services are provided to all organizations; their cost is typically determined based on usage and demand, and customers pay a metered fee based on individual consumption levels.

When you reflect on public utilities, what comes to mind? How reliant we are on them? How fundamental they are to our survival? How the services are primarily invisible to us, and how we often take them for granted?

When you think about it, many of these statements could also be said about IT networks, especially as they have changed over the past few years to support digital buildings and IoT. It’s becoming extremely common to refer to – or think about – IT as a utility because of how central it is to every business – and to our everyday lives. Enterprise networks are just as vital as electricity and water to keeping a business afloat.

Today’s users expect networks to be fast and fully functional. They do not think about the behind-the-scenes work it takes to make that network connection transpire. When you flip a light switch, do you think about where the electricity is coming from, or the process required to make your overhead lights turn on? When you think about IT as a utility, you expect to be able to connect to a network whenever you want – you assume it will always be available and easy to access, regardless of where you are.

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Cable Braid Design: The significant Factor in New 4K Coax Cable

There is a revolution transpiring with 4K coax cable design. We outlined factors which set new 4K coax cable design apart (silver-coated copper center conductors, the insulation, polyethylene types and foil shields bonded to the core). Then we concluded our post by promising to tell you about the last remaining factor that sets new 4K coax cable designs apart from the others: the cable braid in 12 GHz 4K design.

Learn more about the most difficult part of the journey to a new 4K coax cable design …

Cable Braid Performance

After the first foil, which a braid layer with 95% coverage – the most coverage possible in a single cable braid. Enhacing cable braid performance is one of the most difficult aspects of creating a new 4K coax design.

If you look at the impedance of the cable (return loss), old designs have a bunch of spikes at different frequencies. These are caused by the dimensions of the braid, the relationship between the individual conductors, how the cable braids are woven with each other, the angle at which they cross each other (braid angle) and lots of other factors.

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IT-OT Convergence and Conflict: Who is Responsible for ICS Security

Who is responsible for industrial cyber security in your organization? Whether it is Information Technology (IT) or a cross-functional ICS operations and process control group – often labeled Operations Technology (OT) – they possibly have incompatible approaches to resolving cyber security risk.

To both secure ICS and reap the productivity benefits of IT-OT convergence, the industrial cyber security program must be recognized as a cross-functional lifecycle and journey. IT and OT must work together for either team to be successful.

Pre-internet, the line between IT and OT was quite clear. Today, that line has been unclear. Technology can potentially permit connectivity to nearly every device on the plant floor and out to field locations. And it’s also connecting IT and OT in new ways too.

IT and OT are very different organizations that have begun to converge. This blog addresses one of the many causes of their conflict and how to start resolving the growing pains.

IT and OT Resisting Convergence

IT and OT are resisting convergence occuring all around them says Luigi De Bernardini, CEO of Autoware, an MES and smart manufacturing automation firm in Italy. When working with clients in large manufacturing automation projects he finds that “many manufacturers still see strong resistance to bringing information and operational technologies together, with mistrust coming from both sides.”

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Is DC Power Heading for Your Data Center?

Could DC power be an energy-saving game changer in the data center industry?

As power densities expand, colocation and hyperscale data center operators need to take advantage of every opportunity to decrease power consumption. Is it possible that 380V direct current (DC) might be the solution?

To answer that query, it’s important to understand the history behind AC (alternating current) and DC power, the pros and cons of using DC power in data centers, and the potential future of DC power.

Some History: AC vs. DC                                                   

The world might be altered if Thomas Edison had won the power war back in the 1800s. In addition to inventing the lightbulb, Edison was the inventor and patent holder of an electrical distribution system based on direct electric current. He established the first electric utility company in New York in 1882 to supply electricity to 59 customers. By the late 1890s, he had constructed and was operating 100+ direct electric power plants in the Northeast.

His jolt to deploy DC power plants ended after one of his employees (Nikola Tesla) joined George Westinghouse; together, they developed an AC power distribution system. The AC power plant was significantly efficient than Edison’s DC plant; AC power plants could distribute power to customers over hundreds of miles compared to DC power plants that needed to be placed within a few miles of homes and offices.

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AI Uses in Data Centers

Compared to many of the digital transformations we have seen in the past couple years, artificial intelligence (AI) is altering the way we all do business – including in data centers.

An increasingly used term that describes the method of using “machine logic” to solve very complex problems for humans, artificial intelligence also describes the potential for a machine to “learn” similar to the way human beings learn. Software algorithms (programming, more specifically) develop relationships between large sets of data, then repeat the same function using the same algorithms, but including the “learning factor.”

The reason we are hearing so vastly about artificial intelligence is because it is one of the fastest-growing sectors in technology today. Artificial intelligence uses are expected to increase by 63% between last year (2016) and 2022; the prediction is a $16.6 billion market that’s driven by technology companies like IBM, Intel and Microsoft.

According to Siemens, there are specific artificial intelligence uses that are expected to rise between 2019 and 2024:

  • Autonomous robots (self-driving cars): 31%
  • Digital assistants (Siri-like automated online assistants): 30%
  • Neurocomputers (machines that recognize patterns and relationships): 22%
  • Embedded systems (machine monitoring and control): 19%
  • Expert systems (medical diagnosis and the smart grid): 12%

Artificial intelligence uses in data centers are also expected to heighten. AI can help data centers reduce energy consumption and operating costs while improving uptime and maintaining high levels of performance. Need a few examples? Let’s take a closer look.

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5G Networks and Mobile Edge Computing

Global mobile data traffic is growing much faster than fixed broadband data traffic, with a compound annual growth rate of 47% from 2016 to 2021, according to Cisco’s VNI Mobile 2017 report. Expansion of mobile-access bandwidth is being driven by the proliferation of web applications, cloud computing and content streaming (including audio, video and virtual reality).

The Evolution of Mobile Networks

The mobile network system, which serves as the communications backbone for cellular phones, has changed our lives and our communication over the last 30 years. Today, smartphones do not just support basic services like voice and SMS – they have become indispensable tools that offer millions of applications to improve work efficiency, continuously provide updated news information, keep us in contact with peers and friends, provide instant streaming of our favorite TV series and movies, take and share high-definition pictures and videos … our smartphones have become our personal assistants to complete all kind of tasks.

Since the first cellular mobile network system was introduced in 1981, a new mobile generation has appeared every 10 years. These mobile-network milestones remind us of just how far we’ve come since then:

  • A 1G cellular system that supported analog voice service using frequency division multiple access (FDMA) was introduced in 1982.
  • A 2G GSM cellular system that supported digital voice and messaging using time division multiple access (TDMA) and code division multiple access (CDMA) was introduced in 1992.
  • 3G first appeared in 2001 to support digital voice and messaging, as well as data and multimedia service; it moved us to the wideband spread-spectrum with wideband code-division multiple access (WCDMA).
  • 4G/LTE (long-term evolution), our current mobile-network generation, supports IP voice and data, as well as mobile Internet service. 4G has moved to complex modulation formats with orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), and was first standardized and introduced in 2012.

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Transmit Wireless Data at Speeds up to 867 Mbit/s

Nobody should pay for features they do not requiure. With the Hirschmann BAT867-R industrial wireless access point, you would not have to compromise performance for price. Space and budgets are limited. That is why the BAT867-R includes a refined set of features to help reduce the device’s size, as well as overall networking costs.

BAT867-R Blends High-Performance with Cost-Effectiveness

Its rugged design, compact size and select feature set help you maximize efficiency and performance. The BAT867-R wireless access point is ideal for industrial settings where space and budgets are limited, such as discrete automation and machine building settings.

  • Enables high-speed data transmission up to 867 Mbit/s
  • Meets IEEE11ac standard
  • Provides reliable wireless capabilities from tablets/smartphones
  • Allows wireless connectivity for moving vehicle to improve warehouse efficiency

Transmit data efficiently – up to 867 megabits per second (Mbps) – with the BAT867-R industrial wireless access point. This device supports high-speed IEEE 802.11ac data rates, making it the fastest wireless device in Belden’s portfolio.

By only including the essential interfaces, Hirschmann offers a cost-effective, high-speed solution. You also have access to extensive management, redundancy and security functions with Hirschm

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Cabinet Seismic Ratings: Reduce the Risk of Downtime

The International Building Code (IBC) determines that certain facilities – data centers often included – remain operational during and after earthquakes or other seismic events. Based on building type, and how vital a building’s operations are, facilities are placed into four IBC-determined risk categories:

  • Risk Category 4: Hospitals, aviation control towers, police/fire stations, facilities containing highly toxic materials
  • Risk Category 3: Lecture halls, theaters, power-generations stations, water treatment plants, prisons
  • Risk Category 2: buildings that don’t fall into Risk Categories 1, 3 or 4
  • Risk Category 1: storage buildings and agricultural facilities

Data centers typically fall into Risk Category 4, meaning that their operation is regarded vital during and after an earthquake. To protect against downtime, it’s pivotal to minimise the potential for equipment damage during seismic events – especially if data centers are not backed up at a secondary location. Some data centers are considered vital to conserving communication exchange (wireless, email, voice, etc.) after a seismic event.

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High-Speed Optical Links: Checkpoint 2 for Fiber Infrastructure Deployment

All the devices housed in today’s data centers – from virtualization equipment to storage devices – require cabling that provides high performance and flexibility. Because of this, distributing new fiber infrastructure in data centers demand  much thought and planning.

We advise keeping these four essential checkpoints in mind:

  1. Determine the active equipment I/O interface based on application types
  2. Choose optical link media based on reach and speed
  3. Verify optical fiber standards developed by standards bodies
  4. Validate optical link budget based on link distance and number of connection points

In a series of blogs – the first one published on March 23, 2017– we will cover each of these checkpoints in detail, describe current technology trends and the latest industry standards for data center applications. This blog covers checkpoint No. 2: choosing optical link media based on reach and speed.

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Category Cables; Planning for Power Delivery

The utilisation of category cables for power delivery has been getting ample attention lately – especially given the amendment in NEC (2017), NFPA 70 (2017) and potentially CEC C22.1 (2017 proposed revisions). This attention is related to potential safety issues that may emerge when high power, high temperature and high cabling density are present.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Chapter 3, Table 725.144, “Transmission of Power and Data,” contains information about the ampacity rating of conductors at various temperature ratings based on gauge and bundle size. UL has created LP certifications (optional – not required by code) to identify cables that are designed and tested to carry the marked current under reasonable worst-case installation scenarios without exceeding the cable’s temperature rating.

This arose through an allowance in the older version of NEC, which allowed electricians to substitute Class 2 and Class 3 data cables (category cables) for 18 AWG wire in certain instances.

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