Cheaper is not always better. You may feel that the Category 6 cable you get from your communications services provider is too expensive, and you can save money by buying and installing your own cables. There are a number of reasons why this could be a mistake.

 

First, trying to install cables yourself rather than doing it professionally could lead to myriad errors and hazards. This would require you to bring in a professional anyway, costing you more money and wasting your company’s time. Additionally, if you find cheap cables, you just might be purchasing CCA cables without realizing it.

 

What Is CCA Cable?

CCA cable is copper clad aluminum cable, and it is cheaper because it is made of aluminum rather than solid copper. However, here is a clear case of “you get what you pay for.” While these cables are cheaper, cables made with CCA conductors are just not worth the risk. They are not standards-compliant and they do not have a valid UL safety listing under the National Electric Code, or NEC. If you find a CCA cable with a UL mark suggesting it is in compliance, it is probably counterfeit.

 

For one thing, CCA cables tend to offer significantly lower network performance than standard cables, which will frustrate your employees and cost you efficiency. Because aluminum cable has more than one and a half times the resistance of a similar copper cable, you will generate more heat and lower voltage, potentially resulting in not enough power to your end device and increased insertion loss. The poor workmanship of CCA cables can also lead to bit errors and faulty links.

 

Just as important, however, is the safety issue. Standard cables are tested rigorously for the risk of fire damage and spreading. CCA cables typically are not, and it’s easy to see how catastrophic a cable fire can be for your business.

 

How to Identify CCA Cable

If the cable you buy is significantly cheaper than you would expect, that would be a first indicator. In addition, you can scrape the conductor to see if the copper rubs off, revealing aluminum underneath. You can also weigh the cable against cable you know to be real copper, since copper is heavier.

 

Rather than buying cable yourself and worrying about how you can figure out if it is CCA cable or not, your best bet is to contact a professional communications company to provide and install your cables. Thousands of customers from a wide variety of industries, including finance, real estate, health care and many others, use Intellicom for their unified communication needs. We offer expert communication services and can handle all your cable-related needs and more.

 

Don’t put your company at risk by attempting unskilled installation of potentially CCA cables. Contact the experts at Intellicom today.

Today's data centers require a great deal of monitoring to keep running efficiently. Proper maintenance includes a variety of factors, one of which is appropriate temperature control. The IT equipment used in data centers needs electricity to function but often produces heat as a byproduct of that function. In the enclosed space of a data center, this heat can quickly build up.

 

While the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers' temperature guidelines for data centers allow temperatures up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, sustained high temperatures at or above this level can damage or destroy devices and components within the data center. Such damage not only results in significant repair costs but can also lead to costly downtime as well.

 

To prevent such outages, removing heat from a data center is of the utmost importance. Fortunately, a variety of methods and technologies are available today to help maintain data center temperatures at an appropriate level.

 

Choose the Best Cooling Design for Your Facility

If you're in the process of designing a data center or renovating your current one, one of the most valuable data center cooling tips is to choose the best plan for your facility's needs. The best choice depends on several factors but can have a significant impact on your data center's cooling efficiency. Just a few of the factors to keep in mind when choosing your center's cooling design include:

 

  • Power Density: The density of your system primarily will affect the type of cooling system you'll need to keep temperatures within acceptable ranges. For example, while a low-density system can usually get away with basic air cooling, a high-density implementation may require more active, and more expensive, liquid cooling systems.

  • Room Size: Part of your system's density has to do with the scale of the room in which you'll be keeping your data system. Will it be big enough to allow sufficient space between racks, or will it cause them to be too tightly packed?

  • Budget: The bottom line for most companies is the budget dedicated to your data center's cooling design. For example, if you have a relatively small budget, using a combination of efficient rack placement, air cooling and air-side economization bypasses can help make the most of your resources. If your budget is on the upper end of the scale, however, an expensive liquid cooling system can facilitate even high-density data centers.

 

Here are four of the most important things to keep in mind about data center cooling strategies so you can determine the best cooling methods for your data center.

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1. Pick the Right Cooling Method

By considering these factors and balancing them appropriately, you can have a better idea of what your facility can handle. Once you have a better grasp of this, you can choose which cooling method would suit your facility's needs best. The most conventional cooling methods are described in more detail below:

 

Air Cooling

This basic method of cooling uses computer room air conditioners, or CRACs. These air conditioners remove heat from warm air, converting it into cold air before recirculating it. These CRACs can be arranged in any number of configurations, focusing on the whole room, a single row or even a single rack.

 

CRACs can also be used in combination with raised floors, supplying cold air underneath the area so fans can draw it upward to cool the equipment. The CRACs can then collect the heated air from the upper portions of the room, cool it and recycle it back underneath the floor, moving the heat out of the chamber.

 

Liquid Cooling

Liquid cooling is more expensive than air cooling, both on a technical and budgetary level, but it offers more cooling power. Liquid cooling designs use cold water or refrigerants from a cooling tower to remove heat from the facility. The liquid does this by moving around or through racks or CRACs, collecting heat as it goes before recycling back into a cooling tower, which removes the heat from the liquid as waste.

 

Because it offers greater cooling power than air-cooling, this type of cooling system is often a necessity for high-density systems. However, it requires much more infrastructure and planning and is more expensive than air cooling or free cooling methods.

 

Free Cooling

Free cooling is also known as air-side or water-side economization. The air-side method of cooling uses outside air to cool the equipment, limiting the expenses associated with chillers and air conditioners by minimizing their usage. This type of cooling increases the problems associated with air contaminants and variations in humidity, but more sophisticated systems have reduced these problems by transferring heat outdoors in a more indirect fashion.

 

Water-side economization uses similar methods, employing outside air combined with evaporation techniques to cool liquid run through the facility without using chillers. This has become a more popular approach to cooling as allowable data center temperatures have increased. Free cooling usually has a similar infrastructure as liquid cooling but costs significantly less.

 

By considering each of these options and comparing them to your company’s plans and expectations, you can choose a system that best suits your data system’s needs.

 

data center cooling

 

2. Be Proactive About Potential Problems With Your Cooling System

Designing your cooling system doesn’t end at choosing the type of system to implement. Too many organizations simply pick a room, pick a cooling system and fill the space in whatever arrangement will fit. However, this approach can lead to several problems.

 

Improper Infrastructure

An undersized power or cooling infrastructure can severely limit your operational capacity, while an oversized infrastructure can unnecessarily increase your capital expenses and monthly expenditures.

 

Poor Component Placement

If you place your components without considering your infrastructure, you may reduce your cooling system’s efficiency. For example, misplacing a rack may force you to detour an air duct in a way that reduces its potential airflow.

 

Inappropriate Floor Planning

If you have too little space in your data center room, it can complicate your component placement and waste floor space.

 

Preventing Cooling System Pitfalls

To avoid these pitfalls with your cooling system, take some preventative measures both in designing and maintaining it.

 

Implement a Hot-Aisle/Cold-Aisle Configuration

Instead of trying to cool your entire data center at a single low temperature, focus on removing hot air from the room before it has a chance to recirculate. You can easily separate hot and cold air by making rows with the racks. Have the front of the racks face each other, to create a "cold aisle," and the back face each other, to create a "hot aisle." Once you've accomplished this configuration, you can more efficiently vent air from the hot aisles before it has a chance to affect the servers in adjacent rows.

 

More sophisticated variations on this design involve walls between the racks or between the racks and the ceiling, isolating the warm and cold air even further. This type of configuration can help decrease energy usage up to 20 percent and can prevent some cooling inefficiencies.

 

Maintain Organized Cables

Tangled cables can substantially block your airflow, preventing cold air from distributing beneath raised floors. They also actively trap heat within enclosures, causing heat to increase to dangerous levels more quickly. Avoid these cabling issues by moving your cables to overhead cable managers and using high-capacity cable managers inside enclosures, minimizing the tangle. This is an easy process if you implement it early on and can prevent a lot of cooling inefficiencies.

 

Plan for Your Racks

Too many companies design the room before they choose their racks. The best way to operate is to select the racks best suited to your needs, decide on their configuration and density, and design the room around them. The company doesn’t risk overcrowding or under-provisioning and can plan the best infrastructure of cooling and power resources for its data center’s needs. This prevents costly structural deficiencies.

 

data center efficiency

3. Look for New Ways to Improve Your Data Center’s Cooling Efficiency

Years ago, energy efficiency in data center cooling systems was an afterthought. With relatively cheap energy available and rack density low, companies weren’t too worried about the electric bill each month. However, today’s data center managers are expected to pay much closer attention to energy costs.

 

Data center cooling can account for up to 30 percent of a data center’s operational costs and 70 percent of a data center’s energy use. According to a 2011 survey, 97 percent of data center managers said reducing their energy expenditure is either a “somewhat” or “very” important concern. Of those respondents, 87 percent cited lower costs as the primary motivation for reducing their energy expenditure.

 

With costs such a high priority, data center managers have to do what they can to continually improve the efficiency of their data center cooling systems. Here are a few ways to improve the effectiveness of your existing cooling system.

 

Install Blanking Panels

Block off unused rack spaces by installing blanking panels. If you use these panels in combination with a hot-aisle/cold-aisle configuration, they prevent hot air from recirculating through the unused rack space. Plan for these blanking panels by using racks compatible with snap-on panels. This way you don’t need to break out the toolkit every time you need to reconfigure your data center arrangement.

 

Replace Inefficient UPS Systems

Any unnecessary heat sources must be removed from your room if you want to improve efficiency. You can easily replace traditional online UPS systems with more modern models, which are more energy efficient. This reduces your system's heat output, rendering your cooling efforts more efficient.

 

Use Close-Coupled Cooling

Close-coupled cooling systems tend to be more efficient than traditional perimeter and raised floor systems. Instead of cooling the whole room, these systems use hot-aisle/cold-aisle configurations with row-based air conditioning units in close configuration to focus cooling where it’s needed most, reducing unnecessary energy expenditure. The modular nature of this system also helps managers more easily reconfigure the system to install new equipment or handle overheating racks.

 

Regularly Re-Evaluate the System

Whenever you make a substantial change to your current system or company budget, re-evaluate your system to make sure you’re using the best cooling system for your configuration, room and budget. Check equipment temperatures regularly to make sure you’re falling within national standards and make changes when necessary. The same system you’ve used for years may fall short if you’ve made substantial changes to your equipment configuration since initial implementation.

 

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4. Remember Why Structured Cabling Makes a Difference for Your Cooling System

One way to help your cooling system work more efficiently, regardless of the cooling system you use, is through structured cabling.

 

In most data centers, the methodology employed with cabling is a simple point-to-point system, where patch cables run directly to and from connected hardware. In a structured cabling system, these patch cables are replaced with patch panels, which are placed at the top of a rack.

 

These patch panels, in turn, connect to other patch panels via a multi-fiber assembly trunk that connects to the main distribution area. At this main distribution area, all the moves, adds and changes can be accomplished with short patch cables, improving visibility and organization.

 

In short, the system creates a modular alternative to the point-to-point system that is more organized and standardized. When properly designed and installed, this system provides your data center with an organized cabling infrastructure that offers numerous benefits to your operations, including:

 

  • Organization: The organization of this scheme is much better than the point-to-point system. Instead of using long cables running from one side of the room to the other, the system uses short, properly labeled cables for easy recognition. This helps operators and managers trace ports and cables much quicker since they don't need to sift through piles of cables to track a single one.

 

  • Reduced Human Error: With easier cable tracking, it’s less likely for an operator to make a mistake and easier for them to rectify one. This helps reduce the potential for downtime and the potential length of a system outage.

 

  • Aesthetic Appeal: A more organized system both looks and runs better, offering a much cleaner appearance than a point-to-point method. This gives your facility a more polished impression to potential clients while also presenting a better workspace for employees and managers.

 

  • Improved Performance: Structured cabling systems, when properly designed and installed, offer improved redundancy and overall performance over point-to-point systems, as they are more capable of handling updates and structural adjustments.

 

  • Effective Cooling: Most importantly to your cooling system, structured cabling makes it easier to implement effective cooling systems. Whereas point-to-point cabling systems can result in tangled cables that block airflow in your data center, structured cabling systems minimize the mess, allowing for improved air flow in and among your racks. Additionally, the modular structured cable system lets you more easily implement new cooling systems more quickly, minimizing the disruption in your data system.

 

In short, a structured cabling system can bring more efficiency and flexibility to your data center and its cooling system.

 

Contact Intellicom to Help Install a Structured Cabling System

If you’re interested in implementing a structured cabling system in your data center, Intellicom’s data cabling services can help. Intellicom has provided structured cabling services and support for data centers for over 25 years, helping companies accomplish everything from data center construction to expansion and reconfiguration. We offer expert care and service across the United States, operating as a structured cabling company in North Carolina, our home state, and across the country.

Meetings take place in your conference room every day. Some may be minor internal housekeeping tasks while others may be big pitches to potential clients or partners. Whatever the case, your conference room needs to be outfitted with top AV features to stay relevant. The best AV solutions for conference rooms allow smooth and effective communication and project an air of professionalism. Here are the five must-have AV solutions for conference rooms.

 

1. Videoconferencing Systems

The best conference room system integration is irrelevant if it doesn’t include high-quality videoconferencing capabilities. The internet has enabled your business to have a globally accessible conference room where you can meet with whoever you need to anywhere in the world, but you can’t take advantage of that fully if your videoconferencing system isn’t top notch.

 

That means a high-quality 4K television – preferably flush with the wall – crystal-clear audio with no echo and videoconferencing software that accommodates incorporating multiple remote locations, document sharing and other state-of-the-art features into your videoconferencing solutions. For small businesses and large ones, a great videoconferencing system is a must.

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2. SMART Boards

The sure way to let others know your conference room system integration is not in step with the times is to lack a SMART Board. A SMART Board also happens to be an extremely convenient piece of technology. The SMART Board, a brainchild of Canada’s SMART technologies, is an interactive whiteboard, computer and projection screen in one. Multiple users can write, move objects and perform mouse functions on the board with just their fingers, making demonstrations and presentations clearer and more interactive.

 

3. Wireless Display Solutions

Another way for your conference presentations to lack professionalism is to have wires everywhere. In today’s wireless world, there’s no excuse for your conference room to be a tangle of wires and cables, no matter how many laptops or projectors you need to use. Clean conference room system integration means as few wires as possible.

 i cloud technology

4. Cloud Technologies

Cloud technologies are the ultimate in conference room system integration. The right cloud-based software allows anyone to control everything that accepts digital commands in the conference room with the touch of a button, from laptops to projectors to lights. With the right cloud software, you have total control over your conference room.

 

5. Telephone System

While a telephone may seem like an out-of-date device in this modern, videoconference-oriented world, it’s still a reliable source of communication. When you need one, you’d better have one that works efficiently, allowing clear communication for both parties without dropping any calls.

 

If you’re looking for a quality conference room setup in North Carolina, northern South Carolina or southern Virginia, your best bet is to go with the conference room design company that has been doing it and doing it well for more than 20 years. Intellicom brings your meeting room into the modern age, with state-of-the-art BYOD collaboration, videoconferencing solutions for small and large businesses, and everything else you need to create the perfect conference room environment.

 

To find out more or get a quote on setting up your ideal conference room, contact Intellicom today.

If you own a large business and are protecting your property with a standard key and lock system, it’s a good idea to consider access control solutions. For businesses, sophisticated access control can help protect you from industrial espionage, vandalism, theft and even liability.

 

Here are five top benefits of access control for business.

 

1. Restricting Entrances and Specific Areas

Not all areas should be accessible to all employees. You may have sensitive information located in certain areas that lower-level employees should not have access to. You may require compartmentalization between departments for various reasons.

 

Whatever the reason, a simple “no admittance” sign is poor protection against employees violating protocol. With a quality access control system, you can set each entrance and area so that only those who are cleared for that area can get in.

 

2. Protecting Employees and Valuables

The whole point of having secured access to your building is to prevent unwanted intruders. Anyone who breaks in could make off with valuable property or assault an employee. A standard key lock is unlikely to deter an experienced burglar, but when they see an access control system that requires a card, key code or biometrics, they are more likely to look elsewhere.

 

3. Control Employee Access

Besides not wanting employees entering unauthorized areas, you may not want all employees to have access to the building or to certain rooms at certain times. With a good access control system, you can set the protocols so that a certain employee can only enter during his or her designated working hours, or so they cannot enter on the weekends. It’s up to you and whatever works best to control employee flow.

 

4. None of the Complications of a Key and Lock System

How many times have you dealt with lost keys or broken locks? These issues lead to lost time and productivity. With an access control system, you don’t have to worry about losing keys or jamming locks, because there are no keys. Even if you use a card reader system, it’s much easier to generate a new card than a new key — and you don’t have to physically change the locks.

5. Increases Employee Efficiency

Access control systems are just faster than fumbling with keys and locks. Your employees can spend less time trying to get into the building and more time inside doing their work.

If you’re interested in access control systems in NC areas such as Raleigh, Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro, Durham, Wilmington and Chapel Hill, contact Intellicom, Inc. for a full range of security and access control solutions today.

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